New course added to Fall term: Victorian Gothic

ENGL 4427: Studies in Victorian Culture (Victorian Gothic)

ENGL 4427 Victorian Culture The Gothic

Tuesday and Thursday 3:00 – 4:15
Fall term 2020
Dr. Karen Macfarlane

The Victorians were weird and nowhere is that more obvious than in the popular Gothic literature of the period. Through their stories of ghosts, strange encounters, monsters, and haunted technology Victorian authors worked through their anxieties about the unprecedented social change they were experiencing. In this course, we will explore the work of Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe and others, as well as elements of popular culture that embraced the Gothic mode such as spirit photography, seances, and mourning rituals to think about the ways in which popular literature and culture can be seen to express the deepest worries and secrets of a society. And, as our readings of these cultural texts will show, we will see the extent to which we are, without a doubt, the heirs of Victorian weirdness. 

ENGL 4427 divider
ENGL 4427 Victorian Gothic skeleton

Students wishing to take a 3000- or 4000-level course must have successfully completed at least one unit of literature at the 1000 level; however, one unit at the 2000 level is strongly recommended.

This course may also count as an elective in the Cultural Studies programme.

ENGL 4427 Victorian Gothic seance

If you have any questions about the course or your eligibility, please contact Dr. Macfarlane (

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ENGL 4415: Always Coming Home: The Quest for Belonging in Children’s Literature from the African Diaspora

ENGL 4415 Studies in Children's Lit. Quest for belonging in Children's Lit from the African Diaspora

ENGL 4415, Studies in Children’s Literature: Always Coming Home: The Quest for Belonging in Children’s Literature from the African Diaspora

Dr. Rhoda Zuk
Monday & Wednesday 3:00 – 4:15
Fall term 2020

Course description

The concept of “home,” of belonging, is a central trope in children’s literature that, in picture books, novels, and folklore authored by writers of the African diaspora, is complicated by the displacement, material insecurity, and physical and symbolic violence attendant on systemic anti-Black racism. This course will be grounded in readings selected from recent, influential studies of racialized childhood and children’s literature, including Robin Bernstein’s Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights, Philip Nel’s Is the Cat in the Hat Black?: Exploring Dr. Seuss’s Racial Imagination, and Rudine Sims’s Free Within Ourselves: The Development of African American Children’s Literature. Having supplemented that preparation with a consideration of the cultural theorists bell hooks and Ta-Nehisi Coates, we will move on to an analysis of folklore, poems, picture books, stories, and novels for children and young adults created by iconic as well as emergent Black Canadian, American, and West Indian writers and illustrators.


Students wishing to take a 3000- or 4000-level course must have successfully completed at least one unit of literature at the 1000 level; however, one unit at the 2000 level is strongly recommended.

For more information about the course, please contact Dr. Zuk (

Image: Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

Congratulations to our Spring 2020 graduates!

Although we can’t celebrate the end of the year in person with you, our English and Writing students, we thought you might like to be reminded of people and events from the past academic year. We hope you enjoy the show!

  • English Department 2019-2020 Convocation review
  • English Department 2019-2020 Convocation review award winners
  • English Department 2019-2020 Convocation review congratulations
  • English Department 2019-2020 Convocation review Honours
  • English Department 2019-2020 Convocation review Majors
  • English Department 2019-2020 Convocation review Concentration Minors
  • English Department 2019-2020 Convocation review Dr.Piccitto Research Award
  • English Department 2019-2020 Convocation review Courses
  • English Department 2019-2020 Halloween Arsenic Old Lace
  • English Department 2019-2020 Seminar This is for Real
  • English Department 2019-2020 Winter party
  • English Department 2019-2020 ENGL 2201 adaptations
  • English Department 2019-2020 ENGL 4475 adaptations
  • English Department 2019-2020 ENGL 3321 symposium
  • English Department 2019-2020 Honours Colloquium
  • English Department 2019-2020 Dept Seminar monsters
  • English Department 2019-2020 AAUEC 2020
  • English Department 2019-2020 Hamlet readers
  • English Department 2019-2020 English Corner, students, Dr. Piccitto
  • English Department 2019-2020 quarantine Tracy McDonald
  • English Department 2019-2020 quarantine Stephen Cloutier
  • English Department 2019-2020 quarantine David Wilson
  • English Department 2019-2020 quarantine Graham Fraser
  • English Department 2019-2020 quarantine Anna Smol
  • English Department 2019-2020 quarantine Nathaniel Street
  • English Department 2019-2020 quarantine Diane Piccitto
  • English Department 2019-2020 quarantine Karen Macfarlane
  • English Department 2019-2020 quarantine Reina Green
  • English Department 2019-2020 contact us

The commemorative Mount Saint Vincent Convocation program can be downloaded here.

Graduates, please stay in touch! We’d love to hear about your future endeavours.

And for all of our past and current students, or anyone from the Mount community: you can subscribe to this blog (look for the “follow” form), follow our Instagram or Twitter accounts, or check our website. If you’d like to receive notices of future events, please email Dr. Diane Piccitto <>.

Instagram:   @MSVU_EnglishSociety
Twitter: @MSVU_English or @msvuenglsociety

2019-2020 Academic Award Winners

Congrats to our academic award winners!

Congratulations to our academic award winners for 2019-2020!

Sister Marie Agnes Prize in English
Rebecca Foster

Beryl Rowland Book Prize in English
Jordan Audas

Department of English Literary Prize
Brianna Bean
Darcy Eisan

Stay tuned for a more complete celebration of the last year coming soon to this blog!

To be or not to be: Dramatic Reading of Hamlet

The English Department invites you to join us for a reading of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which will take place Thursday, March 12 at 4:30 p.m. in Seton 404. This is a casual event – no preparation or acting skills necessary, and texts will be provided. You can also just come and listen. For more information or to sign up for a role, contact Dr. Diane Piccitto ( All students, staff, and faculty are welcome.

A Dramatic Reading of Hamlet poster

English Department Seminar with Dr. Karen Macfarlane

The English Department will host another in its series of seminar presentations, this one by Dr. Karen Macfarlane who will ask, “Where Have All the Monsters Gone?” on Thursday, February 27 at 4:30 p.m. in Seton 404. Students, faculty, and administrators are welcome. Refreshments and stimulating discussion on offer!

Download seminar poster here [pdf]

Honours Colloquium 2020

All are welcome to come listen to our Honours students, Rebecca Foster and Michelle Malcolm-Russell, talk about their thesis research on Friday, February 14, at 10:00 a.m. in Seton 404. Refreshments will be served.

Rebecca Foster

Rebecca Foster will be speaking about “The Exiled Voices of Women in the Old English Elegies”

Michelle Malcolm-Russell will present on “Organizing Chaos: Stories, Frames, and Freeplay in Thomas Wharton’s Salamander

Tenure-Track Job: Indigenous Literatures and Oral Traditions and/or Creative Writing

Inspired by a strong tradition of social responsibility and an enduring commitment to the advancement of women, Mount Saint Vincent University promotes academic excellence and the pursuit of knowledge through scholarship and teaching of the highest quality. Mount Saint Vincent University is committed to recruiting exceptional and diverse scholars and teachers. Recognized as a leader in flexible education, applied research, and a personalized approach to education, Mount Saint Vincent University is located on Canada’s East Coast in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Mi’kma’ki the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq. Please visit

Tenure-Track Faculty Position – Indigenous Scholar

The English Department at Mount Saint Vincent University invites applications for a tenure-track position in Indigenous Literatures and Oral Traditions and/or Creative Writing at the Assistant Professor level starting 1 July 2020. As a part of Mount Saint Vincent University’s Diversity Hiring Program, which aims to correct historic underrepresentation, this position is restricted to Indigenous peoples.

The Description

Applicants should have a PhD or PhD near completion in either Literary Studies, Writing Studies, Rhetoric and Composition, or Creative Writing, and/or demonstrated equivalent experience and recognition within the Indigenous community as a teacher, writer, and researcher.

The English Department has a dynamic undergraduate program and a strong record of excellence in teaching and research. The successful applicant will teach a range of literature and/or writing courses at all levels as part of a regular teaching load, and will be expected to maintain an active research/publication program and to participate in collegial service.

Workload includes teaching, research, and collegial service. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Agreement (please visit This position is subject to final budgetary approval and will remain open until filled.

Applications should include a cover letter, curriculum vitae, teaching dossier (including a statement of teaching philosophy), statement of current and future research interests, and contact information for three referees. The department will begin considering applications on 14 February 2020.

Send applications by mail or email (in a single .PDF) to:

Dr. Graham Fraser
Chair, Department of English
Mount Saint Vincent University
166 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2J6


Mount Saint Vincent University is strongly committed to fostering diversity and inclusion within our community and encourages applications from all qualified candidates including women, persons of any sexual orientations and gender identities and/or expressions, Indigenous persons, African Canadians, other racialized groups, persons with disabilities, and other groups that would contribute to the diversification of our campus. Candidates who identify as being from any of these groups are encouraged to voluntarily self-identify in their application materials. All qualified candidates are welcome to apply; however, priority will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Start Date: 07/01/2020

Department will begin considering applications: Friday, February 14, 2020

All positions remain open until filled. Applications should include statement of teaching and research interests, curriculum vitae and the names and contact information for three references.

Please mail or email applications to:
Dr. Graham Fraser
Chair, Department of English
Mount Saint Vincent University
166 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2J6


Poster [pdf]: Tenure-track position, MSVU English

English Alum Nolan Natasha to launch book of poetry

Nolan Natasha. I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me?

Join in the celebration of MSVU English alum Nolan Natasha‘s debut book of poetry, I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me?

Friday, October 18
7 p.m.
Cafe Lara
2347 Agricola St.


The book is available from Invisible Publishing.

Dr. Karen Macfarlane invited to give keynote at International Gothic Association

Dr. Karen Macfarlane 2019 keynote
Dr. Karen Macfarlane

Dr. Karen Macfarlane was an invited speaker at the 15th International Gothic Association conference, which was held at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois from July 30 to August 2. She presented a keynote address, “Where Have All the Monsters Gone?” on July 31st.

Dr. Macfarlane explains the topic of her presentation:

Monsters are undergoing an identity crisis in twenty-first century popular culture. In this paper, I explored the layered and problematic rethinking of the monstrous in contemporary Gothic and horror. Where there were once creatures that terrified and preyed and menaced there are now lovers who sparkle, victims, saviours and, sometimes, just everyday people with slightly odd proclivities. Because the monster has functioned traditionally as a sort of barometer for the fears and anxieties that plague a culture, warning of potential transgressions and allowing a cathartic removal of threats to social order through conflicts with human protagonists, the disappearance of the truly monstrous seems to be a particularly troubling trend. Without them, how can a culture imaginatively identify and work through threats to its world view? In this talk I argued that the disappearance of the traditional monster might be evidence of the ways in which neoliberal social practice works to limit political and collective action through an apparently benign discourse of “sameness” that denies the value of difference, specific historical and cultural experiences in the name of “equality” and obscures the fact that operations of power are systemic. As many critics have noted, “sameness” almost inevitably means “mainstream” (that is, “white”) in the contexts in which it is used. To be equal is to conform to mainstream definitions of identity. By looking at the ways in which monsters have been “mainstreamed”, I explore the possibility that with all of the monsters safely relegated to the spaces of human-like sameness, they are unable to warn us of the threat of those imperatives of individualism, competition, and conformity and that true monster is the one that absorbed and silenced all of the others; the one that is too big to see and that threatens to devour us all as we speak.

Dr. Karen Macfarlane speaking at the 2019 IGA conference

photos: Dr. Jason Haslam @JazzlamHazzlam