This page lists the current graduate students. For a list of previous years, see Our PhD Graduates.
Sadia Afrin is a PhD student under the stream of Rhetoric and Communication Design at the Department of English Language and Literature in the University of Waterloo. She has completed her B.A and M.A in English Literature from Jahangirnagar University of Bangladesh, her country of origin. She has also completed M.Ed in English Education at the Department of Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum of the College of Education, University of Oklahoma, U.S. Her PhD research area combines Postcolonial studies and Educational studies to inform teaching writing to multilingual learners in Higher Education at the West, empowered with praxis, dialogue, and social justice. She is currently working with interests in Brazilian revolutionist Paulo Freire’s educational pedagogy, critical thinking, neocolonialism, hybrid generation, and Third space. Her Master’s thesis in English literature was on Marxist study of Spanish poems of Pablo Neruda and Cesar Valejo. Her Master’s in Education was on comparative study of educational systems of Finland and Bangladesh. She has published a book chapter titled: “Trajectories of Language, Culture, and Geography in Postcolonial Bangladesh” in the book named Handbook of the Changing World Language Map published by Springer International Publishing.
Maab Alkurdi is a PhD student in the Department of English Language and Literature. She completed two Masters Degrees: the first focused on English Language and the second on English Literature at the University of Jordan, and at the University of Waterloo, respectively. Her research interests include Rhetorical Analysis of Life Writings, Counterstories, Critical Race Theory and of course Creative Writing. She cherishes her coffee accompanied with reading and writing at almost any time and she enjoys watching crime shows.
Ayesha Altaher completed a BA (English Literature) at AAU and her MA (Literary Studies) at UWaterloo. Ayesha is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo. Her secondary field of research is Composition Studies and Pedagogy, and her primary research interest is American Literature. Ayesha is interested in exploring cultural productions, particularly literary texts, by African, Muslim, and Arabic speaking people who were forcefully relocated to the United States (enslaved) or immigrated between the late 1700s and early 1900s, as well as the representations of these groups circulating in North America print culture at the time. Ayesha is interested in how this history challenges what it means to be American.
Becky Anderson completed a BA (English; French Studies), MA (Literary Studies), and GDip (Cognitive Science) at Waterloo. Becky is the recipient of the Provost Doctoral Entrance Award (2015-2016), a Jack Gray Fellowship (2016-2017), a W.K. Thomas Graduate Scholarship (2017-2018), and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2017-2018). Now a SSHRC-funded doctoral candidate, Becky’s research examines the immersive potential of fantastic ontologies across different forms of media. She’s also concurrently pursuing a Certificate in University Teaching from the Centre for Teaching Excellence to complement her extensive instructional experience with a firm theoretical grounding in the scholarship of teaching and learning
Jonathan Baltrusaitis, BA (Film and Communication/Culture Studies at McGill) and MA (Experimental Digital Media at Waterloo) is a PhD student in the department of English Language and Literature. He comes from a film and television background with a drive to extend documentary storytelling into new media, particularly locative augmented reality. His masters research project “The Civic Monument Reinvented and Extended through Enfranchising Documentary AR” explored how augmented reality can alter the narrative potential of civic spaces, particularly by enfranchising traditionally marginalized voices in the context of civic monuments. Jonathan’s current research continues this exploration of “Space, Time and Story” viewing AR as an opportunity to promote community, belonging, civil discourse and cultural understanding by creating meaningful ‘places’ around us, healing the schism of the dual universes we inhabit (the physical and the digital). To this end he’s exploring the cognitive underpinnings of narrative, the effects of stereoscopy and developing a new locative-documentary grammar. Jonathan received the Graduate Grade Average Award (2017-2018) and he is an enthusiastic teacher.
Mahnoor Bano is a Ph.D. student in the department of English Language and Literature. She completed her BS Hons and MPhil from Pakistan working on Historiography and the female self in Postcolonial Literature.
As a Ph.D. student at the University of Waterloo, Mahnoor’s research interests include postcolonial and post-partition narrative produced by female authors focusing on South Asian and African Literature particularly. Mahnoor is mainly interested in exploring thedivide seen between the literature produced by women and men and the themes it explored in connection to colonization and the partition of the subcontinent. In doing so, the work aims to centralize the marginalized female narrative while tracing the notion of ‘subaltern female self’.
Sally Beresford, B.A. Hons, (English; Philosophy; History, Redeemer University) and MA (Literary Studies, University of Waterloo) is a PhD Candidate at the University of Waterloo. Her research focuses on women’s detective fiction of the interwar period in Britain and the creation of reading communities by the authors through the use of language. She is the recipient of an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2020-2021). Her research can be found in Clues: A Journal of Detective Fiction. She has also contributed book chapters to edited anthologies which question and define roles of liminal characters of the detective genre.
Betsy Brey (BA and MA, University of Minnesota Duluth) is a PhD candidate in the Department of English Language and Literature. She teaches courses on digital media, communications, and games and works as a coordinator at the Writing and Communication Centre. Her research focuses on intersectional and queer narratology in video games. She is particularly interested in the intersections of game play and narrative structure, and how game stories are perceived and constructed by communities of fans. Additionally, her work examines the social and cultural practices of the communities that play or enjoy these games, including questions of collaboration, digital labour, canonicity, and the cultural economies of fans and fandoms. Her work has been published in a number of books, including Indie Games in the Digital Age (2020), Narrative Tactics for Mobile and Social Games: Pocket-Sized Storytelling (2018), Beyond the Sea: Navigating BioShock (2018), and The Play Versus Story Divide in Game Studies: Critical Essays (2015), as well as journals such as Rhetor and The Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric.
Christopher Cameron is a PhD candidate. He completed his BA and MA at the University of Windsor. Areas of research interest include Tolkien studies, constructions of national identity, walking literature, and Renaissance drama.
Justin Carpenter is a PhD candidate in English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo. His current research traces the use of the term 'generative' from literary to computational contexts. He argues that such a genealogy can help better situate game studies scholarship in dialogue with modernist and postmodernist literary studies, as well as cinema and other media. His other research interests include poetry, philosophy of technology, and aesthetics. Justin is generously funded by a SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship.
Keely Cronin, B.A (Concordia University of Edmonton) and M.A (Queens) is a PhD candidate studying representations of Canadian immigrant narratives on the popular CBC program "Canada Reads," as well as the #CanadaReads community that has developed on Twitter. She is currently writing her dissertation while also working as the Director of Student Life and Learning at Concordia University of Edmonton.
Sarah Currie is a doctoral student in the emergent field of MAD STUDIES, a rhetorical intersection of medicalized humanities, disability studies and postpsychiatry. Mad studies is an academic and grassroots hybrid initiative advocating for survivors of the broken mental illness treatment system currently practiced in Canada and the U.S.
Sarah completed her MA in English and Film Studies with a specialization in poststructuralism at Wilfrid Laurier University before moving to UW for the chance to work with Dr Jay Dolmage. She is a big believer in research initiatives with realizable grassroots impact — the work is worth doing if you’re meaningfully impacting the lives of those without the same access.
Michael Domonchuk is a PhD candidate in the English Language and Literature department. He received a BA (Hons) from Algoma University and an MA in Literature Studies from the University of Waterloo. His research areas focus mainly on Horror and Mystery cinema and Psychoanalysis. Other areas include Gothic and Romantic literature, Mid-20th century American poetry and Detective Fiction.
Jennifer Doyle, BA (Mount Allison University), BFA (Mount Allison University), BEd (Memorial University), MA (Wilfrid Laurier University), has research interests that include ecocriticism, American Literature, psychoanalysis, and concepts of place and being. She has just begun work on her dissertation.
Kavi Duvvoori is a PhD Student in English, researching the algorithmic mediation of literature and language games. They are interested in critical approaches to linguistic semantics and natural language processing; in worldbuilding and simulation in 19th and 20th century novels (especially British and Latin American); in simulation games, in speculative fiction, in theorizing and practicing resistance to the violence against migrants, racialized and indigenous people; in the rhetorics of structure in mathematics (and math’s influence on literary rhetorics of structure through groups like the Oulipo); in post-colonial and queer theories and practices of living; in meta-gestures; and in writing in experimental constrained forms. Kavi has an Sc.B. in Mathematics and an A.B. in Literary Arts (Hon.) from Brown University, and an MFA in Digital Arts and New Media from UC Santa Cruz; they hope that their work in old complex institutions like universities can nonetheless join those pushing for equity within and without them. They are from the “world garlic capital” in central California, from India, and from Toronto. What does the language game of a profile blurb do, what does it say in implication, what does it limit and obscure?
Carolyn Eckert, BA (English at Waterloo) and MA (Experimental Digital Media at Waterloo) is a PhD student in the department of English Language and Literature. Her area of research covers digital studies, critical theory, as well literary and rhetorical discourse as it pertains to computational rhetoric and the persuasive or influential nature of rhetorical figures, moves and patterns used in subscriber cookie statements, free WIFI opt-ins and other digital permissive agreements that lead users to agree or accept without fully reading and/or understanding what they have agreed to. The ethical or non-ethical use has the potential to predict and direct behaviour, as well as influence opinion and decision-making. Her research interests cover the ethical gap or dilemma in the deliberate or subversive misinformation of public interest where granting permission implies that technology and entities have access to personal data with sharing capability that can potentially be employed to change public opinion for political, cultural and business purposes. Following a twenty-plus year career in communications, public relations and marketing, she returned to the University of Waterloo to complete her MA (2020), begin her PhD (2020) and continues to teach for Conestoga College and the Humber College Business School.
Lara El Mekkawi
Lara El Mekkawi completed a BA (English) at Notre Dame University- Louaize, and an MA (English Literature) at the American University of Beirut. She is currently a PhD student in English at the University of Waterloo. She is the recipient of the Provost Doctoral Entrance Award for Women (2019). Her research interests are in Cosmopolitanism and World Literature; Lara studies the complicated connotations behind being a part of the world. She also freelances as a book editor. She has edited Nadia Tabbara’s debut book Harness Your Creativity (2018) and co-edited a poetry collection titled And We Chose Everything (2018), and is currently editing Nour Abou Fayad’s debut novel The Complete Opposite of Everything (2019).
Elianne El-Amyouni is a Lebanese-Canadian PhD candidate at UW. She is looking at identity formation and recreation in colonial and apartheid states, particularly through youth cultures in Palestine. She is interested in cultural studies and politics, Middle East studies and rhetoric. Elianne received her BA and MA from the University of Balamand in Lebanon where she focused on alchemical symbolism, modernism and the poetry of Khalil Gibran. While she remains interested in Middle Eastern art and artists, her focus has shifted from the esoteric to the sociopolitical aspect of cultural production.
Alex Fleck, B.A. (Waterloo), M.A. (Waterloo), is a second-year English PhD student examining virtual reality hardware and software through a media archeology and philosophy of technology lens. This research subject coincides with Alex’s other research into interfaces, FPGA (clone) videogame consoles, various histories of computer technology, the remastering/adaptation of old videogames, modding and piracy/ownership, and game design.
Aleksander Franiczek completed his BA and MA in English Literature at Western University and is now continuing his studies at the PhD level at the University of Waterloo. During his MA, Aleks designed a reading (err… gaming) course that investigated the unique storytelling affordances of text-based and graphical computer games, which jumpstarted his academic interest in videogames. His research currently explores how the intersection of narrative context and procedural rhetoric that informs the player’s experience while gaming can be used to help them simultaneously construct subjective meaning from the virtual experience and an objective understanding of the game as an interactive program. Through this lens, he wants to reconfigure the concept of player immersion from a phenomenon determined by the technological affordances of hardware to a more holistic, philosophical model that sees the relationship between player, avatar, and game world as central to the creation of involving and meaningful gameplay.
Outside of his PhD research, Aleks has developed a long-standing interest in writing pedagogy through years of work as a Writing Specialist at King’s University College’s academic writing centre, The Write Place, and has taught academic writing courses at Fanshawe College. When he has time, he also writes less formally about his interest in videogames on his blog: ludocrit.com.
Sara Gallagher (B.A. Hons, Trent; M.A. Public Texts, Trent) is a senior PhD Candidate who specializes in American literary regionalism and print cultures, African American literature, place studies, and digital activism. Her dissertation examines the roots of the African American West in specific regions and cultures (for example, nineteenth-century San Francisco) in order to gather a more nuanced picture of how this space has evolved into contemporary conceptualizations in literature, cinema, and other media cultures. Her research has been generously-funded by Ontario Graduate Scholarships.
Kyle Gerber, BA (Laurier) MA (Waterloo) BEd (Laurier), is a PhD candidate in the department of English Language and Literature. He is working under the supervision of Dr. Randy Harris on a dissertation titled "Figures of Forgiveness: Rhetorical Foundations of the Mennonite Ethos of Forgiveness." Kyle is a recipient of the W. K. Thomas Graduate Scholarship, several Ontario Graduate Scholarships, and is the grateful recipient of a recent SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship. He enjoys teaching, and has several nominations for the TA Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is interested in rhetoric (especially Burkean) and understandings of forgiveness, as well as Canadian Literature (especially “Mennonite” writing): the question at the nexus of these interests is “what action do we symbolize when we say ‘I forgive’?” In particular, his interest has broadened to include figuration, so a central question he is pursuing is "what rhetorical figures cluster around statements of forgiveness?" When not taking up space on campus, Kyle enjoys working with his wife Tracy on their old stone house, and moonlighting as a mandolin player in his side-hustle bluegrass band.
Kasturi Ghosh is a PhD student in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo. Her research interests are Women’s and Gender Studies, Gothic Studies and Popular Literature and Culture. She did her MPhil and MA in English from Jadavpur University, and BA Honours in English from Loreto College, University of Calcutta, both in Kolkata, India. She has taught for eight years in India and has published papers and reviews in peer reviewed journals while she was teaching as an Assistant Professor of English at Salesian College (2012-2017) and Vivekananda College for Women (2017-2020), both in West Bengal, India. She is grateful for the opportunity to enhance her academic and professional skills with the resources and training that the University of Waterloo has to offer.
Christopher Giannakopoulos, (BA, MA Waterloo) is a third-year doctoral candidate specializing in rhetorical studies and contemporary literature of the UK. In his research, Chris investigates how a handful of late-twentieth century poets develop interdisciplinary poetics as a way of engaging traditional discourses for knowing (philosophy, history, theology, etc.) through their poetry. Drawing on the poetics of etymology, the rhetorics of argumentation, and the inventive possibilities of poetic form, Chris’s research explores how language both produces—and in some cases obstructs—the paths towards knowledge.
Ian Gibson, BAH (Queen’s), MA (Trent), is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the department of English Language and Literature. Although his training is in American literature and rhetoric, Ian’s academic interests vary widely, from representations of contemporary science in recent literature to literary theory and its intersections with philosophy. His dissertation is a comparative look at two seemingly unlike authors, Marilynne Robinson and Cormac McCarthy. Its aim is to account for, or to begin to account for, a simultaneous commitment in the authors’ works: to the language of science and materialism on the one hand, and to the language of “orthodox” religious forms on the other. His suspicion is that the overlap indicates a rather serious departure from what is often referred to as the “postsecular.”
Some other interests include: the Frankfurt School (specifically Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno), philosophy of language, theology, existentialism, rhetoric, the imagination, and cognitive science. And less literary/philosophical: climbing, running, camping, horror movies, video games, gardening, and playing the drums.
Vanya Rachel Gnaiah is a PhD Student whose research interests include Animal Studies, Posthumanism, Food Culture and Media Theory. She previously completed an Integrated MA in English Studies with a minor in Development Studies at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. She was also the recipient of the Erasmus Mundus scholarship and was selected for an exchange program to Aarhus University, Denmark. She currently holds the Exceptional Doctoral Student Scholarship and her PhD research examines the conditions that make the animal killable in the abattoir and the biopolitical consequences of technological innovations centered around lab-grown meat and plant-based proteins.
Nicholas Hobin is a Ph.D. candidate in English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo, with an MA (English Language and Literature) from the same, and a BA (English) from King’s University College. His research aims to create links in the fields of humanities-based game studies and animal studies, exploring questions of virtual animality and posthuman identity. His dissertation investigates the many ways in which the non-human animal image is used and articulated in digital games, and how these images reveal, reinforce, or challenge our cultural preconceptions of what it means to be animal. He works at the UW’s Games Institute, and is the Associate Editor of Book Reviews and Interviews for First Person Scholar.
Ashley Irwin, BA and MA (University of Guelph), is a PhD Candidate at the University of Waterloo. Her research interests include discourse analysis, gender and sexuality, critical race theory, Black Canadian literature and history, and literary theory. Her dissertation analyzes the discourse used in Canadian news media sources to marginalize anti-racist activism when framing instances of Black Canadian uprising. Ashley published an article in Borders Undergraduate Arts Research Journal entitled “Grieving the Ungrievable: Negation and Recognition in Execution Poems” (2012) and was nominated for the Associate VP Academic Teaching Assistant Award of Excellence (2014). She is the winner of the Lea Vogel-Nimmo English Graduate Professionalization Award (2017), the Arts Senate Award (2017), and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2017).
Zahra Jafari is a fourth-year PhD candidate of Rhetoric in the department of English Language and Literature. She completed her BA in English Language and Literature and her first MA in Translation Studies, both at University of Isfahan. She did a second MA in Rhetoric and Communication Design at the University of Waterloo. Currently, she is working on her dissertation under the supervision of Dr. Michael MacDonald. Her project is a comparative, multimodal analysis of the representation of Iranian women in media. Zahra’s book chapter titled “Iranian Women and the Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Untold” has appeared in Minority Women and Western Media: Challenging Representations and Articulating New Voices.
Some of her academic interests include: Rhetoric, Women’s Studies, Metaphor Studies, Postcolonial Literature, Shakespeare, 19th-century British Literature, and Translation Quality Assessment (TQA).
Melissa Johnson is a PhD student in the Department of English Language and Literature. Her dissertation examines how the rhetorical history of hysteria has informed and continues to inform current societal and medical perceptions of contemporary women with illness and/or disability. Melissa graduated with distinction from Western University with a BA (Hons.) in English and a Minor in Sociology. She received her MA in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Northern British Columbia where she examined the negative social and health ramifications of disseminating, legitimating, and perpetuating pathologizing discursive representations of Indigenous peoples in Canadian media. Melissa is the recipient of the Provost Doctoral Entrance Award (2018/2019). She is also an Executive Member of the Student Association for Graduates in English (SAGE) serving as Equity Liaison (2019/2020). She is committed to investigating inequities and oppression, violence, discourse and power, and especially, ableism.
Monique Kampherm, BA Administrative and Commercial Studies-Public Administration, Public Policy, and Political Science (Western University), MA Political Science (Western University), MA Multimedia Journalism-Television, Radio, and Online (Bournemouth University), MA English-Rhetoric and Communication Design (University of Waterloo), is a PhD candidate (ABD) in English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo.
Monique’s doctoral research focuses on political rhetoric, social media, and democratic engagement. She is examining how federal leader debates are evolving because of the rhetorical influence of social media.
Monique holds a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (2020-2021), and is a recipient of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2018-2020) and President’s Graduate Scholarship at the University of Waterloo (2018-2021). She is also named the RhetCanada 2018 Graduate Student Prize Winner by the Canadian Society for the Study of Rhetoric for her paper presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences conference. Her paper, "Democratic Prosopopoeia: The Rhetorical Influence of the I-Will-Vote Image Filter on Social Media Profile Pictures During the 2015 Canadian Federal Election," is now published in the peer-reviewed journal Rhetor: The Journal of the Canadian Society for the Study of Rhetoric, 8, 59-98.
In addition to her diverse scholarly background, her past professional experiences as a Policy Advisor for the Infrastructure and Realty arm of the Government of Ontario, journalistic experiences with Sky News Business and BBC Watchdog in England, and educational experiences as an Instructor (University of Waterloo), Course Director (York University), and Partial-Load Professor in English (Sheridan; Seneca College) have helped shape her research interests.
Chitra Karki is a PhD student, Department of English Language and Literature. He received an MA in English Language and Literature in 2002 from Tribhuvan University, Nepal, and an MA in Rhetoric and Communication Design in 2015 from the University of Waterloo. His research interests are: Critical Race Theoretical Praxis, African American Rhetoric, Critical Pedagogy, Postcolonial Studies, Nuances in South Asian Diaspora(s) and Critical Sociolinguistic.
Asma Khaliq, BA (Honours English Literature; Double Specialization in Digital Media Studies and English Literature in a Global Context English) and MA (Rhetoric and Communication Design) is a PhD student at Waterloo. She has a research interest in the visual and rhetorical design of websites and online communities such as Reddit and Facebook with regards to medical self-diagnosis, credibility, and the spread of information and misinformation. Asma’s other pursuits include graphic design, marketing, and communications.
Tabinda Khan, B.A. Joint Honors (English & Fine Arts, UWaterloo) and MA (Literary Studies, UWaterloo) is a PhD candidate in the department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo. Her research interests include nineteenth century British literature with a focus on women writers like Austen, Edgeworth, Owenson and Shelley in relation to the expanding British colonialism. Her prospective research topics include travel writing, immigration, and the depiction of displacement in 19th century texts and its connections to experiences of emotional trauma. Her MA thesis and research focused on the value and perception of Jane Austen’s novels in the contemporary era by investigating the aspects of empowerment and assertiveness for women in Pride and Prejudice and its 2008 television adaptation called Lost in Austen.
Somayeh (Sam) Kiani
Sam Kiani completed her BA and MA in English Literature in Iran. She is currently working on her PhD dissertation under the supervision of Dr. Heather Smyth. Her research focuses on the dynamics of gender, sexuality, race, and diaspora in Anglophone Caribbean literature. Her interests include postcolonialism, Caribbean Literature, Diaspora studies, and women's writing.
Jin Sol Kim
Alicia Latimer completed a BA in English and an MA in English Rhetoric and Communication at the University of Waterloo. Her main areas of interest are digital rhetoric, young adult literature, and disability studies. Her Master’s research project looked at the representation of marginalized identities in a popular YA series and how the YA reader community impacted this representation by responding on social media platforms. She plans to further this research by studying the representation of disability in YA literature.
During my undergraduate studies at Carleton I double majored in English Literature and Linguistics, and played a lot of video games. During my Masters in English Literature at Carleton I specialized in science fiction and dystopia, and played a lot of video games. At some point I realized that I ought to combine these interests.
Video games are everywhere now: in books, in film, on your TV, on your phone, in the classroom, in the workplace. I want to make sense of their impact on our lives. People today spend as much time playing games as they might have spent reading books fifty years ago. How does that restructure our cognition? McKenzie Wark summarizes that “Games are no longer a pastime, outside or alongside of life. They are now the very form of life, and death, and time itself." So "play" isn't just about play anymore. Play has become work.
I believe that it's essential to understand how we are using what we learn in games to approach challenges in our real lives. To plead ignorance is to allow external forces to co-opt those influences and manipulate them in their favour. Nick Dyer-Witheford and Grieg de Peuter warn that "video games are a paradigmatic media of empire." To this I ask: what is our alternative? How can we take this cognitive capital back from the gamified office and leverage it positively? Big questions. I can't answer them on my own. That's why I'm here at the University of Waterloo.
Shannon Lodoen is a PhD student in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo. She completed her Honours BA in English Literature and Rhetoric at the University of Waterloo (2016) and her MA at Western’s Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism (2019). She has been the recipient of a Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Master's Scholarship (2018- 2019), the Provost Doctoral Entrance Award for Women (2019-2020), UW's Beltz Prize in Literature (2020) as well as the Rhetoric Essay Award (2020), and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2020-2021).
Shannon’s main areas of interest include rhetoric, semiotics, and discourse analysis. Her master’s thesis examined the role of myth, as defined by Barthes, in the construction of Canadian national identity. In her dissertation she plans to shift her research southward to the United States, using a pessimistic framework to investigate and deconstruct American narratives of social and technological progress in the twentieth century.
Kem-Laurin Lubin is a Doctoral - C at the University of Waterloo, where she focuses on computed (AI) biases and how AI discursivity informs the material effect on the lived experience of People, particularly the marginalized. Her research is predicated on the idea that Technology is nothing short of a digital Colony, amplifying the analogic biases and that understanding how AI models work can better inform how they make decisions, void of bias but also to further hermeneutic methods of assessing AI models and other digital “TEXT.”
Professionally, she is a Certified Design Thinking coach who enjoys solving problems, both simple and complex and have done so in many market spaces - from Community Planning, Risk Management, Diversity & Inclusion, Future of Work, Mobile Design, Senior Leadership Ideation, Web & Mobile, 3D Animation, Automation, Medical, Healthcare Informatics, Financial, just to name a few. She is also the author of the book User Experience in the Age of Sustainability and the holder of ten technology patents.
Kem-Laurin completed an Honours BA at the University of Ottawa and an M.A in the Rhetoric and Professional Writing stream at the University of Waterloo. She is mum to two boys and a rambunctious German Shepherd, Chewie.
Chris Martin is a PhD student at the University of Waterloo, building on the concepts learned there during his Masters in English Rhetoric and Communication Design. Currently, he is spending his time researching the formation of ideological communities on YouTube, focusing on the interactions between the rhetorical techniques employed by popular content creators and the platform’s algorithmically driven content recommendation systems. When not testing the limits of his sanity by gazing into the abyss of the internet, Chris writes and edits screenplays, and even engages in the occasional acting role.
Tommy Mayberry (he/she/they) is a PhD candidate in the Department of English Language and Literature. They hold a Joint Honours BA in English Literature and Fine Arts: Studio Specialization (with Dean’s Honours) from the University of Waterloo and an MA in English and Cultural Studies from McMaster University. They have been the recipient of two Ontario Graduate Scholarships and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC) Doctoral Fellowship, and they also were one of the recipients of the 2015 Amit & Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student. Their research-creation dissertation, “I AM OLOLON: Transperforming William Blake’s Eve, Ololon, and Oothoon,” focuses on Romantic Period and contemporary transgender visual culture as they “drag up” their academic writing to embody their research.
In addition to their doctoral studies, Tommy is also the Manager of Outreach and Recruitment at St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo as well as Co-Editor of the upcoming collection of essays RuPedagogies of Realness: Teaching and Learning in RuPaul’s Drag Race and its Paratextual Cultures (forthcoming McFarland, 2020). They have also received numerous grants for their writing and multimodal science communication project (“The Science Library Project”) and have been invited to speak on instructional inclusivity at several universities, including Western University as part of their Future Prof Series and as the Keynote Speaker for the University of Alberta’s annual Teaching Institute.
Lindsay Meaning is a PhD student in the English department of the University of Waterloo. She previously studied English Literature at Wilfrid Laurier University, and completed a Master’s in Experimental Digital Media at Waterloo. Her research lies in the field of Game Studies, focusing on representations of imperial ideologies and colonial practices in strategy and role-playing video games. Further interests include digital life writing, fan communities, and Victorian women’s writing.
Diana Moreno Ojeda
Diana Moreno Ojeda, BA (Art History and Theory; Philosophy minor, Los Andes University), MA (English Language Teaching, University of Tabriz), and MA (Rhetoric and Communication Design, University of Waterloo) is a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo.
Her research work is anchored at the intersection of Attitude, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Cognitive Narratology. More specifically, Diana looks at how authors deploy patterns of Attitude in science fiction to present their evaluation of AI to their readers. Attitudinal appraisal is ultimately a device for the positioning of discussions on the cultural value of our technological artifacts and their construction; but, also, for the exploration of our current definitions of intelligence, reason, and cognition.
Diana is also Associate Editor of Essays for First Person Scholar, and she enjoys cooperative table-top games just as much as reading Science and Speculative Fiction.
Devon Moriarty completed her BA (Psychology), MA (English, Rhetoric and Communication Design), and GDip (Cognitive Science) at the University of Waterloo. As a SSHRC-funded doctoral candidate (English, Rhetoric), Devon’s work examines how science communication and political communication unfolds on online social voting communities like Reddit, and has appeared in a variety of journals including Technical Communication Quarterly and Social Epistemology. She is working to find ways to leverage virality in these established, democratically-oriented online communities to the benefit of a more inclusive democracy in Canada where citizens can participate meaningfully in political life by capitalizing on the affordances of virtual platforms.
R. Travis Morton is a game studies scholar pursuing his PhD at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, studying collective identity-building online through ostention and legend-tripping. He is also an online journalist, writing articles for Lost Hemisphere and other online periodicals.
Graeme Northcote, homo sapien sapien (occasionally living up to the name), BA Honours (English and Philosophy, University of Guelph), MA (North American Literature, the University of Guelph), is a PhD student here at the University of Waterloo, with a dual specialty in rhetoric and media studies. When he isn’t referring to himself in the third person, he is working to apply ecocritical and semiotic systems of analysis to discussions of modern technostructures. His research aims to explore the mythological rhetoric of communication and transportation infrastructures.
Specifically, he seeks to critically engage with how these technologies operate as highly concentrated symbolic matrices that encode powerful and pervasive cultural narratives of what it means to be human and our place in relation to non-human animals and the rest of the living world.
Alexi Orchard , BIS (Communications, Thompson Rivers University) and MA (English/XDM, University of Waterloo), is a PhD student in English and researcher in the Critical Media Lab. Some of Alexi's major projects have explored topics related to wearable technology, perceptions of data privacy, STEM curriculum design, social media rhetoric, and tech ethics. She is a recipient of the Provost Doctoral Entrance Award for Women (2020-21) and works on a multi-year Waterloo Interdisciplinary Trailblazer funded project. In her free time, Alexi is a scorekeeper/statistician for the Waterloo Warriors and enjoys going to the movies.
Zach Pearl is a PhD Candidate in the English Language and Literature program. His dissertation research centres on fictocriticism—a method of writing that blends fictional narrative with critical commentary and theoretical frameworks—and its relationship to second-order cybernetics and post-Internet communication. Since January 2020, Zach is also a Research Assistant on the SSHRC-funded initiative, Entangling the Media History Archive, led by Dr. Henry Adam Svec, which examines various practices of entanglement as they intersect with the histories of digital media and media theory. Additional research interests include media arts, virtuality, smart environments and histories of technology. Zach’s research and methods are often interdisciplinary. Before coming to UW, he completed a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and an MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice at OCAD University (Toronto). When not working on his dissertation, Zach maintains a professional practice as a design educator, arts writer and occasional curator. He has produced public programs and exhibition texts for a wide range of organizations, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Vtape, the Subtle Technologies Festival, Eastern Edge and the Gladstone Hotel. Zach is the recipient of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, the UW President’s Graduate Scholarship and the Jack Gray Fellowship Award.
Dakota Pinheiro is a PhD student in English Language and Literature program. He completed his Bachelor of Arts (BA) in the Honours English Literature program at the University of Waterloo with a number of high distinction awards and was awarded a Master of Arts (MA) from the University of Toronto.
Dakota’s current project critically examines 21st century American protest and crisis literatures—with a focus on post-9/11 materials—alongside American literary works from the Depression era. Using frameworks such as affect theory, narratology, critical discourse analysis, and critical theory, his project, broadly speaking, examines the socio-political impasses of crisis as represented in literature. Using Depression-era literature as a guide, his research contextualizes contemporary crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, within a larger trajectory of normalizing precarity and of undoing protections for impoverished and marginalized groups. His work uses comparative analyses of literary depictions of crisis to critique fundamental socio-economic antinomies and inequalities and to critically examine the speculative solutions that these literatures offer.
Toben Racicot, BA Creative Writing (BYUI), MA Rhetoric and Communication Design (University of Waterloo), is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Waterloo.
Toben’s research focuses on role-playing games, player characters and avatars, adaptation theory, and comic book narratives. He is examining player-to-character interactions when characters are adapted from another storytelling medium.
Toben is the co-host and producer of The Games Institute Podcast, interviewing student and faculty researchers from the Games Institute and The University of Waterloo. He’s presented research papers, "Superheroes Beyond Cliche…Invincible" at Comics Forum 2018 in Leeds, UK and “Trauma and Demogorgons: Analyzing Dungeons & Dragons in Stranger Things” at MAPACA 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland.
In addition to academic work, Toben is very involved in the independent comic book scene as a writer, letterer, and designer. He writes Crown & Anchor, a sci-fi fantasy pirate adventure comic that his wife, Alaire Racicot, illustrates. The first volume was successfully crowdfunded through Kickstarter in Spring 2019. He wrote the four chapter mini-series: The Bad Guys: The Ballad of Greg and Chad on Webtoons. He also letters many comics including Beastlands, Menagerie, Leaders of the Free World, and many others.
Supervisor: Dr. Neil Randall
Jay Rawding, BA (University of New Brunswick, Saint John) and MA (University of Toronto), has interests in Canadian literature and ecocriticism. His research analyzes existing literary works that have originated from, and are about, northern Alberta. By studying how the land, history, and culture have previously been represented in texts, he establishes connections with contemporary narratives that characterize this highly contested region. Other interests include romanticism, postcolonial literature, and American literature.
Jenn Rickert is an interdisciplinary-trained academic, currently in the English PhD program, who specializes in the study of people, technology, and culture. Currently, her research focuses on gender, power structures, and social dynamics surrounding competitive gaming communities, particularly within World of Warcraft. She is also interested in gaming cultures (more broadly), identity, embodiment, gamification, gaming narratives, world building, storytelling, cultural reciprocity, and human-technology interactions.
Her research interests and object-texts have included 3D printing of archaeological artifacts & semiological meanings (MA thesis), modification & cheating in (video)games, emotion and game-investment, microtransactions/DLCs, role-playing (traditional & non-traditional), paratext, video game lore & narrative, and Twitch.
Meghan K. Riley (BA and MA, University of Michigan-Flint) is a doctoral candidate studying the ways in which writers of color in speculative fiction represent the tensions between essentialism and hybridity, as well as how speculative fiction literature and television can be utilized to teach critical theory in secondary and postsecondary courses. In the 2020-2021 school year, Meghan will be teaching English for Dorchester School District 2 in South Carolina. Meghan's current research projects include an article on gender, aging, and embodied memory in speculative fiction, and another on how the constraints on shapeshifting characters in speculative fiction effect strategic essentialism.
Samuel Rowland (BA, MA Trent University), is a PhD Candidate in English Literature at the University of Waterloo. His Doctoral project studies the influence of music, sound, and noise on literature about Harlem from the 1940s and 50s. He is interested in how jazz, oration, and the sounds of the city informed the work of Ralph Ellison, Ann Petry, Richard Wright, and others. His other research interests include transgressive fiction, synaesthesia narratives in Young Adult fiction, and historical video games that rewrite and play with history.
Stephanie Samboo has a Bachelor of Arts (English) and Master of Arts (English Studies) from the National University of Singapore. She is also TESL (Teaching English as Second Language) certified, a CLPBT (Canadian Benchmarks Placement Test) assessor and a certified ISW (Instructional Skills Workshop) facilitator. Her research interests include Intercultural Rhetoric, Composition Pedagogy, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Postcolonial Studies and Language Acquisition. Her PhD research focuses on how existing models of composition pedagogy marginalize the voices of English Language Learners in the post-secondary classroom and explores ways to mitigate this issue using the concept of translingual studies.
Jerika Sanderson is a PhD student at the University of Waterloo. She is the recipient of the Provost’s Doctoral Entrance Award for Women (2019-2020), and her research interests include contemporary speculative fiction, ecocriticism, critical posthumanism, and animal studies. She completed a BSc in Biological Sciences and English Language and Literature and an MA in English (Text/Community/Discourse) at Brock University.
Sabrina Alicia Sgandurra (HBA Ryerson University, MA University of Waterloo) is a PhD student specializing in games studies. As a resident of the Games Institute and as a student, her research focuses on the intersection of narrative structures and gameplay in role-playing (RPG) video games. Her Master’s research project analyzed RPG video games for their narrative structure, discovering a pattern that replicated structures found in medieval and oral storytelling. Her PhD research seeks to extend this by focusing on how that pattern may reflect a current cultural preference for specific types of stories. In addition to her role as a student, she is also currently working at First Person Scholar as the Editor-in-Chief and Book Reviews and Interviews Section Head.
Mohsina Shafqat Ali
Mohsina Shafqat Ali, BA (High Distinction from University of Toronto), MA (York University), is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English Language and Literature. Her research interests include critical race theory, South Asian studies, Women’s Life Writing, Postcolonial Studies, Diaspora Studies, and World Literature. Her MA thesis responded to the paucity of life writing texts by South Asian women writers who have been not been analyzed in the discourse of Diaspora Studies and World Literature. In her doctoral research, she plans to continue her investigation of women’s diasporic subjectivity in order to close the gap of this understudied field.
I am a PhD student at the English Department of University of Waterloo with the focus on Cultural Studies, Philosophy and Television narratives. I received my BA at Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia, specializing in Philology (namely Russian Language and Literature). There, I wrote my thesis on Vladimir Nabokov and his literary explorations of the cinematic noir genre, which solidified my general interest in visual storytelling and Modernism. I obtained my MA degree from University of Leeds, England, where I studied English Modernist movements and Philosophy. My dissertation thesis from Leeds focused on the problem of self-identification and post-war trauma in the fictional works of Rebecca West, Alain Robbie-Grillet and Ian McEwan. In Leeds I also kept exploring my passion for cinematic perception, this time approaching the TV series Mad Men through the literary-philosophical lens of thing theory.
I came to University of Waterloo to conduct more broad cultural research on televised series as a genre. For the past ten years we have observed how Television narratives have been changing, investing in, as I argue, more complex narrative structures than ever before. The aim of my research is to trace this complexity by applying philosophical, literary and cultural methods of analysis. Narratology, philosophy of language and cultural studies are, therefore, the main fields of my academic interests.
Humaira Shoaib is a PhD student at University of Waterloo. She did her MPhil and MA from Government College University and University of the Punjab, Pakistan respectively. Her research interests include Post-colonial Literature especially Migration Studies and Cognitive Literary Studies. During her MA she received the recognition for Best English Orator by the President of Pakistan (2006). She also won the Academic Merit scholarship (2005-2006) in MA. She has taught English at University of the Punjab, Pakistan for more than 10 years. She is excited to complement her experience with the academic and professional development opportunities that University of Waterloo offers.
Douglas Sikkema, BA (Redeemer University College), MA (University of Ottawa), BEd (University of Toronto), is currently doing work in 20th century American literature and ecocriticism. His work explores the idea of "disenchantment" and how this has affected the way we think about (and use) language, how we understand the human mind and consciousness, and how we live on the earth. Doug is using the poetry of Christian Wiman and the prose of Wendell Berry and Marilynne Robinson to explore just how the "disenchantment" narrative is breaking down and new avenues are being opened up. Doug has written book chapters on Wendell Berry and Wallace Stegner and on ecocriticism and enchantment.
In addition to his research, Doug has a passion for editing and public policy research. He has published research on health care and education in Ontario and Canada and continues to explore arguments that bolster the institutions that mediate the individual from the State and the Economy.
Maude Stephany (pronouns They/Them) is a Ph.D. student in the English Literature and Languages department at the University of Waterloo. Maude can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and has an office in Hagey Hall 241.
Maude received both their BA Honours and Master’s degree from The University of Guelph’s School of English and Theatre Studies. Maude’s fields of interest include transgender and non-binary studies, performance, improvisation, contemporary American and Canadian literatures and media, spatiality, gender, and young adult (especially Steampunk) literature and media.
Maude Stephany has been published internationally in children’s and parenting magazines, and their first novel, Delilah, was published in 2012. Maude is a creator and curator of Steampunk and Victorian inspired art and accessories at The Explorer's Emporium, and creates works that take form in poetry, prose, short stories, novels, articles, paintings, collages, sculptures, presentations, and performances.
Christin Taylor holds a BA (Writing; Communications Arts) from Indiana Wesleyan University and an MFA (Creative Writing) from Antioch University of Los Angeles. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Waterloo studying the evolving nature of internationalization of higher education in Canada and how it impacts the teaching of composition and writing for international students.
Maša Torbica completed her BA (Criminal Justice and Public Policy; English) and MA (English and Theatre Studies) at the University of Guelph. Her teaching and research interests include Canadian literature, rhetoric, social justice movements, and decolonizing pedagogies. Her dissertation (supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) examines affordances for decolonizing communication within contemporary Canadian society. Maša is a fiction editor at The New Quarterly and a co-organizer of the Balderdash Reading Series at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Valerie Uher, B.A. (Toronto), M.A. (Ryerson), is a PhD student in the department of English Language and Literature. Valerie’s research, supported by a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, focusses on representations of labour unrest and precarious work in 20th and 21st century Canadian literature. Her dissertation addresses the myriad ways in which worker subjectivity is imagined in this literature, and how those representations are impacted by shifting notions of race, gender and citizenship in settler-colonial Canada.
Valerie is an active member of the GSA., serving as Councillor for English, as well as working as a volunteer for the UW chapter of the Fight for Fifteen and Fairness, an advocacy group that supports students in their fight for improved working conditions. A life-long educator, Valerie is the grateful recipient of the T.A. Award for Excellence in Teaching (2020).
Jessica Van De Kemp
Jessica Van de Kemp, BA (St. Jerome’s), B.Ed (Western), MA (Waterloo), is a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo studying adaptation, media, gender, and violence. She is concurrently pursuing an executive program from Cornell University’s business school. Funded by three Ontario Graduate Scholarships (2016–2019), her dissertation examines depictions of gender-based violence in crime drama TV to advocate for positive change and better representation for women and girls. To read some of her scholarly work, visit: Academia.edu, Research Gate, or UW Scholar. An educational leader, she is the recipient of three Awards for Excellence in Teaching (2015, 2016, and 2018). In addition to her studies, Jessica is also a published poet, playwright, and spoken word activist. To read some of her creative work, visit: canadianpoet.org
Supervisor: Dr. Michael MacDonald
Elise Vist (BA, MA English, Carleton University) is a PhD candidate studying queer fans and our relationships to each other and our fandoms. Her research is grounded in contemporary feminisms, queer theory and queer phenomenology, as well as fan studies and literary theory, but is most importantly ethnomethodological. Her dissertation (currently titled "Longing for Queerness in the NHL: Intimate Fandoms and Hockey Real Person Fanfiction") argues that some fandoms operate like intimate publics online, especially when their needs and desires are unwelcome in public fandom spaces. She has also written about queer games, queerbaiting, and immersion for First Person Scholar, where she is now producing podcasts that introduce quarterly special issues. These days, you can find her running around the Arts areas of campus, as she also works with the Writing and Communication Centre to help support first year Arts students learning different ways to write and communicate.
Hannah Watts is a PhD candidate in English Literature focussing on modern and contemporary North American poetry and disability studies. She received her BA Hons. and MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Windsor, with a minor in Classical Studies.
Andrew Weiler is a PhD student of English at the University of Waterloo. He is the recipient of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2018) for his work on novelist and poet Charlotte Brontë. His MA thesis, Charlotte Brontë’s Spiritual Vision, was published in 2019.
His current academic interests stem from previous education and professional experience. He graduated from Western University with a Bachelor of Education and completed an MA in English Language and Literature at the University of Windsor. He has experience teaching a range of subjects and grades from K-12, and First-Year Writing courses at multiple universities. Current research includes embodied learning and composition pedagogies.
John Yoon BA (Honors English, Alberta), MA (Literary Studies, Waterloo) is a PhD candidate at Waterloo. His research interests focuses on the narratology of sports. His dissertation examines the narrative structure of traditional sporting broadcasts and online eSports leagues. John is a member of the Games Institute.
Sonia Zafar is a PhD student in English Literary Studies. Her research interests include Feminist and Post-colonial Research Studies. She did her MS from Lahore College for Women University, Pakistan, in English Literature. She has also worked at the University of Engineering and Technology Lahore, Pakistan as a Lecturer under the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. Her previous research at the University of Waterloo focused on the South Asian Muslims as Model Minorities within the diaspora fiction of the South Asian Anglophone writers. She is particularly interested in exploring the experiences of postcolonial diaspora and depicting the identity deconstructions due to their displacements.