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English Language and Literature Newsletter

Photo of fall trees and lake with caption uWaterloo English Newsletter, Fall 2017.

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Photo of Kate Lawson.A Word from the Chair

The past year has been a very busy one in the life of the Department of English at UW. Here are a few of the highlights of 2016-17.

  • Academic staffing changes: In June, we said good-bye to Rebecca Tierney-Hynes, a specialist in 18th-century literature, who left her post here to take up a position at the University of Edinburgh. Then in August, we welcomed two new colleagues to the Department, Andrea Jonahs (PhD Calgary 2017) and George Lamont (PhD Toronto 2014). Both Andrea and George are lecturers with special expertise in technical communication.
  • Communication in the Engineering Profession: Andrea and George joined the department to assist in offering a new course in professional communication for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UW. This collaboration with an Engineering department builds upon and adds to the on-going success of a similar communication initiative with the Faculty of Mathematics.
  • W.K. Thomas Library renovation project: The W.K. Thomas Library, also known as Hagey Hall 232, is a hub for many activities in the Department of English. The family of W.K. Thomas has very graciously funded the first stage of a renovation project of the room. The room has been reorganized and painted, brightening it up considerably, and new comfortable seating is on order. In Phase 2, we hope to order nesting tables and chairs so that the space can be more flexible—seating at tables for meeting and classes, and open spaces for social events. The Department is very grateful to the Thomas family for their generous support.
  • External Review: Every seven years in Ontario, all academic degree programs are reviewed for quality by a panel of external experts. This year is our turn! We spent a good portion of last year writing a “self-study” that looked into all aspects of our department, especially our teaching and research. External assessors will be visiting campus this fall or in the early winter before they write their report.
  • English Advisory Council: The EAC assists the department and our students by providing leadership, influence, and support through the Department’s alumni network. The new chair of the Council is Mandy Lam and the vice-chair is Ricardo Olenewa. The Department is very appreciative of the support offered by Mandy, Ricardo, and the rest of the council. Faculty member Ashley Mehlenbacher (formerly Kelly) acts as the liaison between the Department and the EAC. 

Professor Kate Lawson
Chair, English Language and Literature


Photo of graduates throwing caps in the air.

The spring 2017 English convocation saw five new PhDs, sixteen new MAs, and seventy new BAs!

Photo of students and faculty in front of a whiteboard.

English students and faculty demonstrated the importance of Arts-based knowledge in STEM fields at a 2017 Canadian Student Leadership Conference workshop.


Alumni News

  • UWaterloo English alumna and New York Times-bestselling author Rupi Kaur (BA, 2015) has recently published The Sun and Her Flowersa new book of poetry.
  • Alumnus Evan Munday (BA, 2003) discussed his new project, #365Canadians, on CBC.
  • Rock band U2 licensed the work of alumnus George Elliott Clarke (BA Hons, 1984; LittD, 2006) for a Vancouver concert.
  • Robert Clapperton (PhD, 2014) got a tenure-track appointment in Organizational Communication with Ryerson’s School of Professional Communication.


Dr. Frankie Condon received the Federation of Students Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award for 2017.

Drs. Bruce Dadey, Jay Dolmage, Jennifer Harris, and Ashley Mehlenbacher received Faculty of Arts Outstanding Performance Awards.

Dr. Ashley Mehlenbacher was awarded the Ontario Early Research Award.

Dr. Linda Warley and Dr. Candida Rifkind won the 2016 Gabrielle Roy Prize for their co-edited collection, Canadian Graphic.



Our faculty members have been busy...

Cover for Landmark Essays in the Rhetoric of Science.Dr. Randy Harris published Landmark Essays in Rhetoric of Science: Case Studies, 2nd Edition, and co-edited a special issue of the journal Argument & Computation on Rhetorical Figures.


TNQ - The New Quarterly logo

Dr. Marcel O’Gorman published a poem titled Lines of Regret Written for Alexander MacLeod After a Too-Short Funeral Visitationwith The New Quarterly.

Cover for Canadian Music and American Culture.

St. Jerome’s  Dr. Trisanne Connolly co-edited Canadian Music and American Culture: Get Away From Me, which included contributions by  uWaterloo English Faculty Dr. Veronica Austen and Dr. Mark Spielmacher.


Other Department News

English Language and Literature welcomes new faculty members Dr. Andrea Jonahs and  Dr. George Lamont.

Dr. Randy Harris gave the keynote address at the Computational Models of Natural Argument XVII conference at King's College in London.

Dr. Marcel O’Gorman recently began the positions of Graduate Chair of English and University Research Chair . He has also partnered with startup Yondr and collaborated with St. Jerome’s in creating animation of images from the St. John's Bible.

Dr. Heather Smyth is collaborating with Sistering in Toronto on Oral Histories of Women's Experiences.