Congratulations, Katherine Quanz

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Photo: Katie Quanz at TIFF archives

Katherine Quanz successfully defended her doctoral dissertation “The Struggle To Be Heard: Toronto’s Postproduction Sound Industry, 1968 to 2005” on July 21, 2016.

Her thesis examines how economic and technological changes shaped the sounds of Canadian cinema, from the modern industry’s founding in the late 1960s to the widespread adoption of digital editing software in the early 2000s. By focusing on the labour and craft practices that coalesced in Toronto’s postproduction companies, Quanz argues that such practices engendered a critical shift in the sonic style of Canadian film sound. Whereas fiction films initially featured a sonic style developed by the National Film Board of Canada for documentary production, filmmakers eventually adopted a style strongly identified with Hollywood cinema. Although it is tempting to explain this shift by appealing to generalized statements about the globalization of Hollywood cinema, Quanz reveals a more complex picture in which a host of historical forces, including government policies, industrial competition, and discursive practices among craftspeople, are seen to shape how new sound technologies were used and how the adoption of these technologies did, or did not, affect the aesthetic of Canadian film sound. In order to narrow the focus of this dissertation, her case studies draw on films from the genres of horror and science fiction. This dissertation ultimately demonstrates that it is not technology alone that leads to style change; rather, such changes can be accounted for by a complex intersection of historical forces at any given period of Canadian film history. Put conversely, the history of Canadian cinema can be detected in its soundtracks.

The supervisory committee consisted of Katherine Spring, Rick Altman, Philippa Gates, Peter Urquhart, and the external examiner was Charles O’Brien.

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Congratulations, Susan Hroncek

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Susan Hroncek successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, entitled Strange Compositions: Chemistry and its Occult History in Victorian Speculative Fiction, on August 9, 2016.
In this dissertation, Susan Hroncek examines how depictions of chemistry in Victorian literature are influenced by concerns regarding the history of chemistry and its relationship to the occult.  She argues that representations of chemistry from the period, particularly those found in popular texts, responded to societal concerns about the origins of chemistry with speculative narratives that depict a collision between chemical innovations and elements of chemistry’s occult or Eastern past. The frequency of negative depictions of chemistry during the Victorian period indicates how, despite discoveries that revolutionized industry and medicine, the British public regarded the science and its practitioners with suspicion. During a period as fascinated with origins as with progress, these texts expand upon the uncertainties of a society struggling with the tumultuous relationship between chemistry’s past, present, and future.
The supervisory committee consisted of supervisor Dr. Lynn Shakinovsky, Dr. Maria DiCenzo, and Dr. Markus Poetzsch, and the external examiner was Dr. Martin Danahay of the Department of English Language and Literature at Brock University.
Susan Hroncek is currently pursuing the publication of her research, including a forthcoming article in Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, and remains involved in Dr. DiCenzo’s project on Women’s Print Media in Interwar Britain (1918-1939), which includes both an Edinburgh Companion and an Omeka online archive. She is planning a new project on Victorian representations of the chemical industry and the chemistry of photography with Laurier colleague Maggie Clark.

Reception for Graduate Students

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From Left to Right: Dalia Eliwad [Phd], Lena Yang [MA], Jared Robinson [MA]. Edwin Adjei [visiting scholar from Ghana], Catherine Brunskill [MA], Anthony Haslam [MA], Mary Tillich [MA], Maria Cammaert Stengos [MA].  Missing: Khadija Plummer and Daniel Rankin [MA]

It was a great pleasure to welcome our new cohort of graduate students on Friday, September 16, 2016 at a reception at Hawk’s Nest. The students are all feeling very excited about their courses, and are also very much looking forward to teaching, some of them for the first time. We are particularly pleased to welcome Edwin Adjei, a visiting scholar from Ghana, who kindly attended the party in spite of having arrived in Canada only the day before. Our Faculty members are delighted to welcome all of them; the reception was a warm and vibrant affair, enjoyed  by everyone.

Submitted by: Lynn Shakinovsky, Graduate Chair

Welcome, Ada Sharpe

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We welcome Dr. Ada Sharpe this year as Assistant Professor in Writing Studies and 19th Century Literature. Professor Sharpe has just completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University working on representations of artistic labour in the fiction of women writers of the Romantic period. Her ongoing research addresses issues surrounding gender, art, and work in British women’s writing of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. She also has expertise in academic and professional writing.

This year, she will be teaching three sections of EN190: Introduction to Academic Writing, EN309r: Illness, Medicine, and Literature, as well as a graduate seminar on Women, Writing, and Work in the 19th-Century Novel. Currently, she is working on a book-length project on the professionalization of accomplishment in the moral-domestic novel, c. 1790-1820.

Filmmaker and rock musician Wendy Schneider to present The Smart Studios Story, Fri. Sept. 23

the-smart-studios-story-director-wendy-schneider-250If you’ve ever been moved by the music of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, L7, or Death Cab For Cutie, you’ve been moved by the sounds created at Smart Studios, an unassuming indie recording studio that became a driving force of alternative rock worldwide. The story of this humble facility — its rise from a dilapidated building located on the edge of town in Madison, Wisconsin, to a legendary recording facility featuring a talent roster of acclaimed artists — is the subject of a new feature-length documentary, The Smart Studios Story, directed by Wendy Schneider. We are thrilled to welcome Schneider to the Waterloo and Brantford campuses for a series of classroom visits as well as public screenings on Friday, September 23. The Waterloo screening will be followed by a discussion with Schneider and Bob Egan, former member of Blue Rodeo and now Community Outreach Manager of the Kitchener Public Library.

Featuring never-before-seen archival footage as well as interviews with Dave Grohl, Billy Corgan, Shirley Manson, Donita Sparks, Chris Walla, and many more, the film focuses on the pivotal Midwest link to the global rise of indie alt-rock music. The film debuted at SXSW 2016 and has since earned critical accolades. In Variety, Dennis Harvey writes, “With plenty of archival video and other materials on tap, The Smart Studios Story is a whirlwind tour of a busy if largely subterranean epoch whose long, often fleetingly glimpsed talent roster should pique the curiosity (and/or nostalgia) of alt-rock archaeologists.”

Schneider, who resides in Madison, Wisconsin, leverages the power of music, film, and the visual arts in order to address community issues. She is the creative force behind a range of projects including an audio documentary on the Civil Rights Movement, an award-winning CD compilation of songs protesting the Iraq War, audio soundscapes for children, the groundbreaking film documentaryCUT: Teens and Self-Injury (Official Film Selection of the 2008 American Psychological Association conference), and most recently The Smart Studios Story. A long-time community activist, her work is dedicated to bringing creativity into contact with community issues, as evidenced by her many local projects in Madison, including Sparkle Dog®, a company that uses audio-based literature as a learning tool in local elementary schools, and fundraisers for groups including Housing Initiatives, Rape Crisis Center, and the Young, Gifted & Black Coalition. Also a well-known figure in Madison’s rock music scene, Schneider has released two albums, Bugatti Type 35 and Traction.

All are welcome to attend this free event. Brantford details: Friday, Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. in OD107 (Odeon Theatre, 50 Market St.). Waterloo details: Friday, Sept. 23, 7:00 p.m. in BA201 (Bricker Academic Building). Light refreshments will be served at the Waterloo screening. For more information, contact Dr. Katherine Spring at kspring@wlu.ca or 519-884-0710, ext. 4149.

The event is made possible with the generous support of the Office of the Provost & Vice-President: Academic, Office of the Dean of Arts, Department of English and Film Studies, Department of Communication Studies, and Digital Media and Journalism Program.

 

Serious Work in Amsterdam

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Submitted by Russ Kilbourn

PhD candidate Anders Bergstrom, Professor Christine Daigle (Brock Philosophy/ Interdisciplinary Studies), and Professor Russell Kilbourn presented papers in a panel, “What Comes After Affect?—The ‘Non-Human Turn’ and the New Master Narrative(s)” at the Narrative Studies Conference in Amsterdam, June 16-18, 2016.

The papers emerged in response to the general question: what comes after affect, when ‘post-affective’ culture signifies not the end of affect but its total dissemination? The degree and status of affect at the level of uncritical consumption, and for everyday life, is markedly different from its value for contemporary critical theory, showing how historically out-of-step the latter is with the ways in which real people actually experience things affectively, before the disruptive interposition of ideology, reason, consciousness, higher brain functions–those features of conscious or unconscious human experience that have heretofore defined the human in contradistinction to that which is non- or other-than-human. From the positing of a set of philosophical parameters for a new theory of post-affective, ‘posthuman’, subjectivity, the panel moved to a pair of theory-based readings of specific filmic examples.

The conference was held at the University of Amsterdam in the historic city centre, within walking distance of the major tourist sites, as well as a great many of Amsterdam’s famous ‘coffee shops’. (On at least one occasion we had the opportunity to discover that these shops do in fact sell coffee.) A comparatively large international event, the conference included no less than 109 panels involving approximately 380 presenters over three days, with three keynote speakers—Espen Aarseth, IT University of Copenhagen (“Fifty Shades of Play: Making Sense of the Game-Story Landscape”), Clare Hemmings, The London School of Economics (“Feminist Articulations: Narratives of Gender and Sexuality in a New Feminist Landscape”), and Roberta Pearson, University of Nottingham (“The Cohesion and Expansion of Fictional Worlds”)—each of whom spoke on a cutting edge topic in narrative theory. In addition, six ‘Contemporary Narrative Theory Speakers’ led roundtable discussions on specific topics.

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Conference participants agreed that organizers Tara MacDonald and Daniel Hassler-Forrest did an exemplary job planning the event—especially in terms of the social dimension. In addition to the closing night dance party, pictured here, the conference kicked off with an opening reception at the new EYE film museum, a short ferry ride across the harbor from the central station. In the end we were surprised to learn that narratologists really know how to have a good time, and that Amsterdam is still one of the best cities in the world.

My 8 Month MA at Laurier: Amanda Spallaci

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For me, the Department of English and Film Studies was the ideal program to obtain a Masters Degree. Upon entering the MA program, I was immediately embraced by the PhD students who were incredibly helpful, willing to discuss classes and research, and assist with my move to Waterloo. A Masters degree is incredibly rigorous, and on account of the demanding workload, often times students tend to isolate themselves. Yet, in this department, the PhD students created a sense of community for the MA students; they planned social events, and maintained a constant outlet for kind and compassionate communication. I received astounding support and genuine care from the students in the Department, and formed friendships that I know are long lasting.

Throughout all of my education, I have yet to encounter an entire faculty who are as innovative, brilliant, and caring as the professors who constitute the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier. This Department possesses the finest and most skilled researchers in Canada. Even with their demanding schedules, each professor assisted me with developing my own research, determine my future plans, and even offer personal guidance. These professors are truly exemplary and display a genuine amount of empathy and care for the graduate school experience.

During the school year, I presented papers at two conferences. For the Southwest Pacific Popular Culture Association Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico in February 2016, I read my paper, “Resistance and Healing: The Representation of Sexual Violence in Personal Testimony.” In March 2016, I presented “The Construction of Transgender Identities in Popular Culture” for the Northeastern Modern Language Association Conference in Hartford, Connecticut.

In addition, IABA SNS [Life Writing Graduate Student and New Scholar Network] published my paper, “Lena Dunham and Sexual Violence: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’: About Rape” in November 2015. I was also involved in community activism and sat on the Gender Violence Task Force at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Next year, I will begin my doctoral work at University of Alberta. My proposed research project focuses predominantly on personal narratives of sexual violence in autobiographical texts and visual media in North American culture. Personal testimony illuminates systemic injustices, violence against women, and helps us cultivate a better understanding of memory and trauma. This interdisciplinary study is crucial as it explores the intersections of gender, memory, trauma, affect, text and film. I argue that autobiographical texts and films offer a nuanced approach to the study/issue of sexual violence, addressing the sizable injustice inflicted both socially and legally on rape survivors, and how these narratives function as a form of resistance against cultural oppression.

Graduation is bitter sweet; I am excited to complete my degree, but am sad to leave such a warm environment. I will always look back at my Masters Degree in the Department of English and Film Studies, and recall the countless pleasant memories with sincere fondness.

By: Amanda Spallacci  (MA 2016)