English Language and Literature Newsletter

Photo of Hagey Hall with caption UWaterloo English Newsletter 2019

English WebsiteEnglish Blog | Make a Gift | Previous Issues

Photo of Shelley Hulan.

Chair's Report


2018-19 was another busy year in the English Language and Literature Department. Our news begins with promotions. Congratulations to Dr. Jay Dolmage and Dr. Ken Hirschkop, both of whom were promoted to the rank of Full Professor this past year, the highest rank a professor may attain within the academy. Dr. Dolmage is the founding editor of the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies and a leading scholar in the fields of disability studies and professional writing. Professor Hirschkop has recently published Linguistic Turns, 1890-1950:  Writing on Language as Social Theory (Oxford University Press, 2019) and is presently finishing the Cambridge Introduction to Bakhtin.

Warm congratulations also to Dr. Bruce Dadey on being awarded Continuing Lecturer status. Dr. Dadey is an award-winning teacher and scholar of intercultural and cross-cultural rhetoric, American literature, and graphic narratives. As the Coordinator for Graduate Teaching Assistants, he provides invaluable support to grad students as they enter the classroom, and online learning spaces, as teachers for the first time. We’re thrilled at our colleagues’ well-deserved advancement.

Administrative Moves

Professor Jay Dolmage became the Department’s new Associate Chair, University Communications Outcomes Initiative, taking over from Prof. Heather Smyth. As department members know, communications courses developed with input from English Language and Literature faculty have been in the works for several years. In the past year, Dr. Smyth and Dr. Dolmage helped oversee the rollout of brand new communications requirements in the Faculty of Science and in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, meeting numerous faculty across campus to discuss writing and other communications outcomes and building networks of expertise among colleagues in the faculties and units where these courses are taught.

Welcome also to our new graduate instructor coordinator, Professor Jen Clary-Lemon, who takes on this role after just one year in the department. Prof. Clary-Lemon provides oversight and advice to graduate students as they embark on independent teaching for English Language and Literature. And congratulations to the department’s new Council of Representatives member, Dr. Stacy Denton. The Council of Representatives is a Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) body that liaises between faculty and the FAUW Board of Directors in order to keep the Association up-to-date with issues of concern to its membership.

I’m also delighted to announce that this summer, Dr. Jay Dolmage assumed the chair of the Faculty Association’s Equity Committee, a FAUW committee with a campus-wide membership that promotes fairness and justice in the university through such activities as advocacy and policy review. It too reports periodically to the Board of Directors.

Awards and Honours

Two English Department members won Faculty of Arts Awards of Excellence this year. Dr. Bruce Dadey won for Excellence in Teaching, in part for his wonderful work mentoring new graduate student teaching assistants. Undergraduate Coordinator Jenny Conroy won for Excellence in Service in recognition of her outstanding work both advising undergraduate students and for taking the lead on course scheduling in a department that now delivers courses not only in Arts but in Mathematics and Computing, Engineering, and Science.

At June’s Convocation ceremony, Dr. Randy Harris received the Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision, an award given to just one or two faculty members in the University each year. Nominated by graduate students, winners of this award have a record of excellence in fostering the intellectual development, and the careers, of graduate students. In Dr. Harris’s case, this means decades of supervision and guidance to students not only in English but across campus, particularly in Mathematics and Computer Science, where he pioneered an interdisciplinary graduate course in Cognitive Science.

Space doesn’t permit a full rundown of the awards garnered by our members—the list includes Dr. Lamees Al Ethari, Dr. George Lamont, and Dr. Sarah Tolmie to name just a few—but for a fuller list all of the excellent work in the department, please visit the department blog, Words in Place.


Over the past year the department has dramatically increased the number of events that its members organize both on and off campus. The Department’s Speaker Series, ably coordinated by Dr. Danielle Deveau, sponsored such high-profile guests as Dr. Jack Halberstam (speaking on “TRANS* Visual Archives of the Transgendered Body”) and Dr. Christine Bold (speaking on “Indigenous Performers, Vaudeville, and Building Relations of Research Exchange”). In addition, faculty members George Lamont, Heather Love, and Megan Selinger have been leading the way on the organization of a number of panels and guest lectures featuring faculty and industry speakers who share their insights on communications across the disciplines, with a summer Faculty of Science Roundtable the most recent and very successful event. Similar roundtables in Engineering are in the works, and the Science Roundtable will be followed this coming December with a Celebration of Writing featuring first-year Science students.

In March, PhD candidate Devon Moriarty designed and ran an all-day event for local high school students called “Save the World in Sixty Seconds.” This event attracted students from all over the region for a day of networking and role-playing aimed at developing students’ collaborative communications skills.


As the largest humanities graduate program in UW’s Faculty of Arts, English Language and Literature welcomed a large cohort of MA and PhD candidates to its Literature, Rhetoric and Communication Design, and Experimental Digital Media programs this year. Two PhD students, Jason Lajoie and Christin Taylor, were selected to deliver GRADTalks, an event hosted by the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Awards Office. Jason spoke about his dissertation research on the LGBTQ community’s use of technology to create personal identities, while Christin spoke about her work to understand the impact of internationalization in the University on first-year writing courses.

And finally, congratulations to the undergraduate English Students Society, which has rejuvenated itself over the past few months and has already hosted a highly successful mixer for instructors and students. More events are in the works for Winter 2020.

Shelley Hulan,
Chair, English Language and Literature


Congratulations to Jenny Conroy and Bruce Dadey, our 2019 Arts Award recipients!

In April, two members of the English Department were recognized for their outstanding contribution to the Faculty of Arts. Jenny Conroy, Undergraduate Program Coordinator, received the Excellence in Service Award, and Dr. Bruce Dadey, Continuing Lecturer, received the Excellence in Teaching Award.

Photo of Bruce Dadey and Jenny Conroy.

RCIScience Certificate

In an initiative spearheaded by Dr. Ashley Mehlenbacher, the Royal Canadian Institute for Science (RCIScience) is piloting a certificate program for undergraduate students enrolled in the science and engineering UCOI courses taught by several faculty members in the Department of English, Language and Literature. Read more about this new and exciting partnership here.

Logo for RCIScience
Knowledge Mobilization & Community Engagement

We are always excited to share news about faculty research projects that include community stakeholders and extend beyond traditional academic audiences.

Dr. Lamees Al Ethari and Carrie Snyder launched a SSHRCH funded storytelling workshop—The X Page—for immigrant and refugee women in the Waterloo region. Together with local writer Tasneem Jamal and artistic director, Pam Patel, participants wrote and performed their stories at a packed event at CIGI. Read their stories in The New Quarterly.

Photo of X-page authors.

Dr. Aimee Morrison was interviewed on CBC Spark about Instagram and authenticity. Dr. Morrison was also in a documentary film by acclaimed Canadian director John Walker titled, “Assholes: A Theory.” The film screened at Toronto’s Hot Docs film festival in April.

Photo of Aimee Morrison and others at Hot Docs premiere.

Dr. Heather Smyth has been working on several community-based research projects with peer researchers at Sistering, a Toronto agency for homeless and at-risk women.  In 2019 she completed an oral history project about the drop-in and is now studying a Toronto Public Library-led reading group with harm reduction women.

Alumni News

Photo of George Elliott Clarke

Dr. George Elliott Clarke was in town for the 2019 Wild Writers Literary Festival.  He participated in a conversation with Pamela Mordecia on Poetry and Healing, led a poetry master class, and held a public talk sponsored by the English Department.

Awards and Grants

Dr. Lamees Al Ethari and  Carrie Snyder received a SSHRC Connection grant for a 12-week writing and performance workshop for refugee and immigrant women in the Waterloo region.

Dr. Jay Dolmage received a SSHRC Aid to Scholarly Journals grant to support the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies; he also received a SSHRC Insight Grant for a project called Academic Eugenics that will explore how eugenics was taught and promoted at Canadian universities. 

Dr. Lai-Tze Fan won a SSHRC Explore Seed Grant for her research project Unseen Hands: A Material History of Women and Technoculture in 20th/21st C Writing Machines; she also won a 2019-2020 Electronic Literature Organization Fellowship.

Dr. Aimee Morrison won a SSHRC Insight Grant for her project “Rhetoric of the Selfie.” She also won a Trudeau Foundation Fellowship where she will be leading workshops on the theme of Power and Knowledge at the foundation’s new Institutes for Engaged Leadership.


Our faculty members have been busy...

Book cover for Planting the Anthropocene.

Dr. Jennifer Clary-Lemon published a book titled Planting the Anthropocene: Rhetorics of Natureculture. She also co-authored an article titled “Writing as a Mode of Learning: Staged Approaches to Chromatography and Writing in the Undergraduate Organic Lab” in the Journal of Chemical Education.

Book Cover for Science Communication Online.

Dr. Ashley Mehlenbacher published a book titled Science Communication Online; she also published “Registered Reports: An Emerging Scientific Research Article Genre” in the journal of Written Communication.  Dr. Mehlenbacher co-authored an article with her PhD student Devon Moriatry titled “The Coaxing Architecture of Reddit’s r/science: Adopting Ethos -Assessment Heuristics to Evaluate Science Experts on the Internet” published in Social Epistemology (Moriatry is the department’s first student to complete what is called an "integrated thesis," which is a series of articles related to one research program).

Dr. Fraser Easton published a book chapter titled “Smart’s Professors: Birdsong and Rhetorical Agency in Jubilate Agno,” in Mocking Bird Technologies: The Poetics of Parroting, Mimicry, and Other Starling Tropes.

Dr. Lai-Tze Fan published a book chapter titled "Symbiotic Authorship: A Comparative Textual Criticism of AI-Generated and Human-Edited Poetry" in ReRites: Responses.

Dr. Winfried Siemerlingpublished an article titled “Austin Clarke: ‘Membering Home and the Black Atlantic” in Revista Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses. 

A list of more faculty publications can be found here on our blog, Words in Place.

Elected Positions

Dr. Bruce Dadey was elected president of RhetCanada, The Canadian Society for the Study of Rhetoric.

Dr. Stacey Denton was elected to The Council of Representatives, Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW).

Dr. Lai-Tze Fan serves as Associate Editor of Digital Review, and is a member of the Steering Committee of MediArXiv: The Open Archive for Media, Film, and Communication Studies.

Dr. Ashley Mehlenbacher was elected President for the Association for the Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine.

Dr. Winfried Siemerling was elected to the Royal Society of Canada.

Other Academic Activities

Dr. Lamees Al Ethari, Dr. Vinh Nguyen, and Dr. Sara Tolmie all participated in the 2019 Wild Writers Literary Festival

Dr. Stacey Denton presented a paper titled, Auctioning the Farm: The Destruction of Nostalgic Things, as part of the "From Barn-Building to Nation-Building in the Novels of Jane Smiley" panel at the American Literature Association Conference that took place in Boston, May 2019.

Dr. Lai-Tze Fan debuted her research-creation project e-Waste Peep Show at OCAD (Toronto), which then travelled to the Communitech Hub (Kitchener), Rutgers University (Camden campus), and the Waterloo IoT "Art Meets Tech" show.

Dr. Heather Love collaborated with leaders from the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) to co-facilitate a workshop at the United Nations Civil Societies Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. The workshop was titled “Design for Action: Networking with Global Technical Societies for Sustainable and Inclusive Systems.”  Dr. Love was also a panelist in a “IEEE Day” webinar—"Supporting IEEE’s Mission via Ethical Considerations of Technology—organized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) TechEthics branch. 

Dr. Heather Smyth participated in a panel discussion titled, “Creating Effective Activism and Change” at the Stratford School of Innovation Design and Business in June 2019.

Dr. Winfried Siemerling co-organized two panels on the reception of Black Canadian literature at Congress 2019, one for the Association of Canadian and Quebec Literature (ACQL) and the other for the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE).