Congratulations, English grads!

Fall Convocation 2021

B.A. English Major

Michael Coutts

B.A. General Studies, English Concentration

Nicholas MacGillivray

Maria Rodrigues

The B.A. Convocation will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday 6 November. You can also watch a live stream of the ceremony or a recording of the event on the Mount’s YouTube or Facebook channel.

Dramatic Reading

Lady Macbeth Seizing the Daggers ?exhibited 1812 Henry Fuseli 1741-1825 Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1965 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T00733

Dramatic Reading of Macbeth

The English Department invites you to join us for a reading of Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, which explores the dark side of ambition while offering supernatural thrills. In anticipation of Halloween, the reading will take place (virtually) on Wednesday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m. (platform TBA). This is a casual event – no preparation or acting skills necessary, and electronic texts will be provided. You can also just come and listen. To RSVP or to sign up for a role, contact Dr. Diane Piccitto (diane.piccitto@msvu.ca) by October 22. All students, staff, administrators, faculty, and friends are welcome.

The Alumnae Corner

Alexia Major

 “Oh, To Be an English Major—”

On Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015 at 1:30 pm, I had my first English class at Mount Saint Vincent University. I was registered for a year-long course with Dr. Graham Fraser and feelings of fear and joy danced with one another as I began my life as a university student. I was on track to become a teacher, the greatest commitment to English studies someone could hope for— however—I was not completely sure. Week after week, uncertainty crept in, “What would I do with an English degree?”, “What could I do with an English degree?”

Studies in English were definitely what I wanted— to comfortably be lost in the poetry of John Keats and to be supremely overwhelmed by the sublime ballads of Samuel Taylor Coleridge is certainly what I wanted. Was a love for critical debate and analytical essays going to be enough and worth the academic uncertainty that taunted me?  And almost like magic, Dr. Karen Macfarlane came in with a presentation: “An English Degree, what are You Going to Do With That?!”. This presentation outlined all the job possibilities that unfold before me as an English major. While this information was welcomed, the abstract nature of my future made this comfort elusive.

With a fast forward to the end of the second year of university, a summer co-op work placement at MSVU’s Conference Services was offered to me. As an English major, this job was certainly not what I would have chosen for myself, but it turned out to be the very best thing that could have happened. I needed to see the power of an English degree after university. My internship did not specifically contribute to a new understanding of my English degree; however, it did generate an even greater appreciation of my degree grew as a result of my internship. MSVU’s English degree program establishes a strong foundation for written and oral communication skills across varied media. These different modes of communication form and fold over each other to create a learning environment that fosters strong and critically based thinking, speaking, and writing skills. With the skills I have garnered through my English degree, instances of confusion and frustration were limited and ultimately avoided by intentionally constructing sentences and thoughts coupled with an appropriate tone. It may be argued that a student or person without an English academic background could accomplish the same communicative feats; however, while that may be true, an English studies background provides a skillset that makes navigating through communicative challenges much easier. My English degree equipped me with skills to take on tasks I did not even realize I was capable of.

That adaptability has led me to have a beautiful collage of jobs post-graduation: an opportunity to copy edit for Dr. Ramona Lumpkin, a work term at MSVU’s International Education Centre, a working relationship with Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association, where I have written two book reviews, and now as an Administrative Assistant at MSVU’s Centre for Academic Advising and Student Success. All of these jobs channeled every part of my English degree. I am certain that my work ethic and the quality of my work have been informed by my time as an English major at MSVU. 

It is indeed a privilege to be an English Major— but really the privilege is to be one at the Mount. I believe that the skills and experiences I have acquired and honed throughout my English degree will stay with me as I press forward into the new chapters of my life. 

Congratulations, English grads!

Congratulations to all students graduating in this spring’s Convocation, including those who have completed our English and Writing programs:

English Majors

Kristen Carew
with distinction

Madeline MacEwen

Emma Smith

Noah Wiegers
(also with Writing Minor)

Concentration in English

Sydney Barr

Andrew Caume
with distinction
(also with Writing Minor)

Chloe Kirkpatrick

Nicole Myers

Minor in English

Caitlin Dumaresque
with first-class honours

Elayna Foran
with distinction

Kelsey Hatcher

Jennifer Kearley
with distinction

Justin Robichaud

Kerry Robicheau

Minor in Writing

Donnelle MacKinnon


Links to the grad video and convocation program can be found here: https://www.msvu.ca/campus-life/registrars-office/convocation/celebrating-spring-2021-graduates/

Thinking with… A Rhetorical Theory Podcast

by Dr. Nathaniel Street

Last summer, a couple colleagues (Dr. John Muckelbauer and Nate DeProspo ABD) and I started up a reading group on G. W. F. Hegel’s most famous book, The Phenomenology of Spirit. Like so many things last summer, it was brought on by the pandemic. We were all pretty much living in lockdown and feeling a bit intellectually starved. We just wanted to read some smart stuff and talk about it with other people. We met once a week for a few weeks and went at a ludicrously slow pace, like only a few pages per session. Reading Hegel is tough and we wanted to have a chance to really think and talk through what was going on in the short sections we were reading. When we met, we talked, a lot: like 2-3 hours straight. We talked a lot about Hegel and the passages we read, but we also talked about related things that those passages drew to mind. And then we talked about things that those things drew to mind. Then, most of the time, we came back to Hegel, or at least somewhere close.

This was a ton of fun and, eventually, John got the idea that we should turn it into a podcast. The idea was simple enough: even though all three of us are academics and all three of us tend to concentrate our research on philosophy, none of us are “experts” on Hegel. We would never presume the authority to explain Hegel’s philosophy to anyone else. But we are pretty good at reading and thinking and talking through what we’ve read of Hegel’s philosophy. And since reading and thinking and talking are skill sets that one can train, we thought other people might enjoy reading and thinking and talking with us, as a way of practicing those skills and as a way of thinking about Hegel, philosophy, and rhetoric more generally.

Our idea was to turn the podcast into a pedagogical experiment. The goal is to record ourselves talking through Hegel in such a way that invites listeners to talk and think through Hegel as well. That’s why we’ve titled the podcast Thinking With… The ellipsis at the end is important because it emphasizes a sense of thinking-together that doesn’t privilege the “thing” or “content” that the thinking is aimed at. That’s the pedagogy: to practice moves of thinking rather than just learn what Hegel’s philosophy is (of course, it’s tough to have one without the other). The ellipsis is also important because it opens up with whom or what that thinking is with: the listener is invited to think with the text, with us, and with each other. Part of the idea is that thinking only happens in relation to other things.

We recorded our sessions all summer and fall. We then spent December and January editing those longer sessions down into manageable 60-90 minute episodes. We started releasing our first season in February, and called it “The Hegel Tapes.” That was a few months ago and we’ve just released our 12th, and final, episode of the season.

We’ve loved making this podcast and, frankly, we’d probably do it even if nobody listened to them. But, the cool thing is that people are listening to them! We have a small, but steady, listening audience somewhere north of 40. People have written us to let us know how much fun it is to think along with us. So, the only obvious thing to do is to make another season. Over the next few weeks, we’ll start editing sessions from our last reading group on Giles Deleuze’s The Logic of Sense, which we started recording last December. It’s a brilliant, totally trippy, work of philosophy that focuses on everything from Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland to the ancient stoics. We’re calling it “The Deleuzecast.” Stay tuned in for more.

You can listen to the first season of the podcast here: Thinking With…A Rhetorical Theory Podcast

Registration feature: ENGL/WRIT 2220, Writing to Influence

Registration is now open! Today’s featured course is ENGL/WRIT 2220, Writing to Influence. You have a choice of two sections of this course, one in the fall term, which is an online version with a synchronous session on Tuesday, 6:00-7:15. Dr. Nathaniel Street is teaching a section on campus in the winter term, Tuesday and Thursday 10:30-11:45.

More information from Dr. Street about his section of the course:

Pre-requisite: WRIT 1120 or five units of university study. If you are taking this course in the Writing minor, you are recommended to complete WRIT 1120 first.

This class takes Aristotle’s definition of rhetoric as “an ability, in each case, to see the available means of persuasion” as a starting point for theorizing and practicing the persuasive power of writing. We will study classical rhetorical concepts and techniques – invention, kairos, ethos, stasis, topoi – for discovering, creating, and analyzing rhetorical argument. Students will do this by learning the theory and history of these concepts, practice using them to analyze the rhetorical power of example texts, and mobilizing them in their own writing. This work will culminate in a semester-long research project written for a popular audience in the spirit of essays written for publications like The Walrus, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker.

For more information about the course, you can email Nathaniel.Street@msvu.ca.

For more English and Writing course descriptions, see the Course Guide 2021-22 on our website.

Registration feature: ENGL/WRIT 2223, History of Writing, Reading, and the Book

Registration is now open for the fall – winter terms! Today’s featured course is ENGL/WRIT 2223, The History of Writing, Reading, and the Book, to be taught in the fall term by Dr. Anna Smol. This is an online course in a blended format, with a synchronous session every Wednesday from 6:00 – 7:15 p.m. and asynchronous activities assigned every week.

More information from Dr. Smol:

Book history is an interdisciplinary field that opens up many avenues of study. In this course our topics will range from literary and rhetorical analysis to historical and cultural research. We will study the book as a material object, from scroll to codex to digital text, as we review the development of various writing systems in manuscript and print culture from antiquity to the contemporary era, setting Western developments in a global context. We will discuss the social, political, and economic factors at play in constituting readers, authors, patrons, scribes, libraries, and publishers in different eras, including contemporary developments in digital writing and publishing. We’ll examine the book’s relation to power in discussions of censorship, sacred texts, and the revolutionary power of books. We’ll consider the nature of oral traditions and their interaction with written literacies. Course readings will alternate between non-fiction (in theoretical and historical articles) and fiction (People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, short stories by Thomas King, and Fangirl, a young adult novel by Rainbow Rowell).

This course schedules discussion forum posts, a synchronous online session, and individual written responses and essays as a regular part of the coursework for most weeks. For more details about the course, see http://annasmol.net/teaching/englwrit2223.

You can take this course as either an English or a Writing credit. This course may also count as a 0.5 elective in the Cultural Studies program.

If you have any questions, you can email Anna.Smol@msvu.ca.

For more English and Writing course descriptions, see the Course Guide 2021-22 on our website.

Registration feature: ENGL/WRIT/ PHIL 2225, History of Rhetoric

Registration is now open! Today’s featured course can count as an English, Writing, or Philosophy course: ENGL/WRIT/PHIL 2225, Tricksters, Liars, and Sophists: The History of Rhetoric, to be taught by Dr. Nathaniel Street, Tuesday and Thursday 1:30-2:45, in the fall term.

More information from Dr. Street:

This course focuses on the history of the rhetorical tradition in the West from ancient Greece through the Renaissance. We will survey major and marginalized works on rhetoric from a variety of perspectives, including some that are (ostensibly) hostile to rhetoric. The class will study rhetoric as a historical phenomenon that gives insight into its contemporary place and read course texts as live interlocutors that may change and/or enrich how we theorize and practice rhetoric in the present. Additionally, the course will offer counterhistories of more established traditions that emphasize the role of women in rhetorical scholarship and practice, question the supposed “disappearance” of rhetoric after the fall of the Roman republic, and interrogate the ever-changing relationship between rhetoric and the practice of invention.

If you have questions, you can email Nathaniel.Street@msvu.ca.

For more English and Writing course descriptions, see the Course Guide 2021-22 on our website.