Emily Urquhart

Sessional Lecturer

Photo of Emily Urquhart.

PhD, Memorial University of Newfoundland
MA, Memorial University of Newfoundland
BJourn, Toronto Metropolitan University
BA, Queen’s University

Email: emily.urquhart@uwaterloo.ca


Some of my earliest childhood memories took place in the fine arts department at the University of Waterloo where I sat in on my father’s art lectures and studio classes, making my own drawings at the back of the room. I’m delighted to return to campus all these years later to teach creative writing. In the past I’ve taught courses on writing and research, and various genres of folklore. Most recently I mentored student, staff and faculty writers as Wilfrid Laurier’s Edna Staebler Writer in Residence and returned to the university’s Brantford campus to teach literary nonfiction.

I’ve worked as a freelance journalist for two decades and my longform nonfiction has appeared in Guernica, LongreadsThe Walrus, and The Toronto Star among other publications. I earned a doctorate in folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland where I relocated to a small outport community on the island’s east coast to record the arrival narratives of local and seasonal residents, analyzing these texts using the motifs and characters of traditional folk tales.

Following my PhD, I drew on my folklore background and my evolving knowledge of disability and ableism in my first book, Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes, which was nominated for several provincial and national awards. My second book, The Age of Creativity: Art, Memory, my Father and Me, about creativity and aging, was listed as a top book of 2020 by CBCNOW Magazine and Quill & Quire. My essay collection, Ordinary Wonder Tales, will be published in fall 2022.

I’m a nonfiction editor for The New Quarterly and live in Kitchener, Ontario with my family. I have two children and they appear often in my writing, sometimes because they are interrupting me and other times because I’m their mother and find them endlessly interesting so they make their way into my nonfiction narratives. So far, they have not objected to this.

Selected Publications

Ordinary Wonder Tales. Biblioasis (October 2022)

The Age of Creativity: Art, Memory, My Father and Me. House of Anansi (September 2020)

Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes. HarperCollins (April 2015) Jacaranda, UK (April 2016)

Fellowships and Awards

  • National Magazine Award for Personal Journalism
  • Alberta Magazine Award for Feature Writing
  • Finalist for Kobo First Book Prize, Hubert Evans Nonfiction Prize, BC National Award for Canadian Nonfiction, Digital Publishing Award, National Magazine Award (Feature, Essay, Personal Journalism), Allan Slaight Award for Journalism
  • SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Doctoral Scholarship

Teaching Areas

  • Creative Writing
  • Folklore
  • Journalism
  • Material Culture