Congratulations to Dr. Diane Piccitto, recipient of the Early Career Research Award!

Dr. Diane Piccitto received the Mount’s Early Career Research Award at the November 1st Convocation, which you can watch in its entirety here.

Take a look at her dramatic “Research Minutes” video illustrating her research on William Blake and Romantic theatre:

You can also read more about Dr. Piccitto’s work in the following article, reblogged from the Mount’s website.

Posted: November 4, 2020.

Dr. Diane Piccitto, Associate Professor in the Department of English at Mount Saint Vincent University, was awarded the Early Career Research Award at the Fall Convocation on Sunday, November 1st, 2020. The Early Career Research Award was established to recognize a faculty member at the beginning of their career who is pursuing exciting and innovative research in their field.

Dr. Piccitto’s research focusses on the poet and painter William Blake, on Romantic drama and on Victorian writers, specifically interrelations among identity, action, and performance in the Romantic period. In her own words, “I am exploring the representation of individual identity and collective identities in connection with transgression in works by Blake and other Romantic authors, such as Joanna Baillie and Lord Byron.” Dr. Piccitto is especially interested in “how the notion of transgression and its importance to an understanding of the self has the power to create socio-political change, as well as its implications for generic categories.”

After receiving her PhD in English in 2010 from the University of Western Ontario, Dr. Piccitto served as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. She served two terms as Lecturer and Associate Lecturer at the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom before becoming a faculty member in the English Department at MSVU in 2015.

As a result of her research, she was invited to contribute an article on “Teaching Blake’s Illuminated Books Performatively, or How to Do (Dramatic) Things with Blake” in Teaching Romanticism XXVI: Drama, part 2, an online series on rethinking how to teach Romantic drama, published in Romantic Textualities in 2018.

Dr. Piccitto is no stranger to the world-class publisher Palgrave Macmillan Press. She published her first monograph in 2014, entitled Blake’s Drama, Theatre, Performance and Identity in the Illuminated Books, and in 2015, Dr. Piccitto co-edited a book entitled Romanticism, Rousseau, Switzerland: New Prospects, with the prestigious publisher. She has published four chapters in books, including one in 2016 with the distinguished press de Gruyter. Her most recent chapter publication (in 2018) in Beastly Blake was entitled “Apocalyptical visitations, heroism, and intersections of the human and the not human in Blake’s Milton.”  Dr. Piccitto’s most recent article publication, “Engaging Learners Through Experiential and High Impact Practices in Higher Education,” is a co-written report based on a presentation given by Dr. Piccitto and MSVU colleagues, Dr. Reina Green and Dr. Anna Smol, at the 2018 Atlantic Universities’ Teaching Showcase (AUTS). The article was recently published in the AUTS conference proceedings.

Currently, she is co-editing the Visual Life of Romantic Theatre 1770-1830, which will be published by the University of Michigan Press. Referee and colleague Dr. Anna Smol, Professor in the Department of English, reflects on the words of a reviewer of Dr. Piccitto’s co-edited volume of essays titled The Visual Life of Romantic Theatre, 1770-1830: “This will not just be a collection but a field-defining conversation.” Additionally, Dr. Piccitto is currently writing the following chapter to be included in this co-edited collection: “Vision and Spectacle in Byron’s Cain and Blake’s The Ghost of Abel.”

Dr. Graham Fraser, Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of English had this to say about his colleague: “Diane Piccitto has already achieved international recognition as a Blake scholar. She has produced a voluminous body of scholarly work which would do justice to a much more senior scholar, and which includes books that leading scholars in her field believe ‘will change the way we think about Blake’ .”

Early this year, Dr. Piccitto co-presented with Dr. Geneviève Boulet a workshop at the MSVU Girls Conference. The workshop, titled “Cracking the Code,” showed the important connections between Math and English.

Dr. Piccitto has served on many university committees, including the University Senate. She is currently President of the MSVU Faculty Association. Dr. Piccitto’s work in creating a supportive and welcoming mechanism for reaching LGBTQ+ faculty and staff led to the organization of the first Mount employee contribution to the Halifax Pride parade. And together with other colleagues, she is delivering courses in Queer Studies at MSVU.

Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition, Dr. Piccitto!

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Fall Convocation Highlights

You can watch the entire Virtual Convocation held last Sunday, November 1st, in the video below. This Convocation celebrated both Spring and Fall graduates. You can also find our look back over the last year in the English Department along with a list of our Spring graduates here, and our Fall graduates here.

Some highlights from this Convocation include Tess Spencer’s Valedictory speech and Dr. Diane Piccitto’s Early Career Research Award.

English Major Tess Spencer, Valedictorian
Dr. Diane Piccitto, Early Career Research Award

You’ll find the speech by Tess at 10:52 and the Research Award for Dr. Piccitto at 1:25:09 in the Convocation video:

Congratulations to everyone!

Congratulations to our Fall graduates!

Congratulations to our graduating English students:

Karlee Bustelli

Tess Spencer
(with distinction)

You can watch the Mount’s first Virtual Convocation ceremony this Sunday, November 1st at 3 p.m. AT on the Mount’s YouTube channel or on Facebook. You can also find more information here:

Meet English Major and Valedictorian Tess Spencer

Tess Spencer Headshot

The following is reblogged from the MSVU website, 26 October 2020.

Tess Spencer is an exceptional individual whose academic strength, intelligence and enthusiasm have left a lasting impression among faculty members in the MSVU English Department. As a student at MSVU, Tess has been raising her voice as a speaker and through lead roles in dramatic readings.

A dedicated community volunteer, Tess provides her support to initiatives including an autism early intervention centre and as a tutor for children and young adults for the past five years. Tess has also been writing an in-depth analysis about the systematic marginalization of Black men in Bermuda, which she hopes to publish next year.

Tess will deliver her valedictory address during the fall 2020 virtual convocation on November 1, 2020 at 3 p.m. AT; you can watch the ceremony via MSVU’s Facebook and YouTube pages. We asked Tess to tell us about her time at MSVU and what’s next for her. Read on to learn more about Tess!

Hometown and current city/town: Hamilton, Bermuda
Degree being awarded: Bachelor of Arts with a Major in English and Minors in History and Psychology (With Distinction)
High school attended: Somersfield Academy (Bermuda) and Saltus Grammar School (Bermuda)
Previous education completed: High school diploma (Advanced Placement Scholar with Honour)

About Tess

Why did you choose to study at MSVU?

I chose to attend MSVU after a two-year stint at a much larger Canadian university. I realized what I was really looking for in a university was a smaller, nurturing environment. I am incredibly thankful that almost all my class sizes at MSVU ranged between 8 to 20 students, which gave me the opportunity to get to know my peers and professors. I am definitely glad I made the move!

Before the pandemic, how were you involved on campus during your time as an MSVU student?

One of my greatest joys from my time at MSVU was becoming Co-Communications Officer for the English Society, alongside my friend Brianna Bean. Together, we created cool posters, managed the Society’s social media accounts and helped organize events. I also loved taking part in dramatic readings; Dr. Piccitto often placed me in lead roles, which was always a fun time! I also had the opportunity to speak at a transfer student support forum and enjoyed attending basketball games and various events put on by Vinnie’s and other on-campus clubs.

What class, professor, project or learning activity has held the most meaning for you? Why?

It would be difficult to select one professor who has had the most meaning to me, as all of my professors have impacted me in one way or another. Dr. Piccitto, Dr. Zuk, Dr. Macfarlane and Dr. McCalla have all left their mark on me. Upon reflection, I have realized that I have a passion for English theory courses and found two courses particularly engaging: Feminisms and their Literatures (Dr. Zuk) and Queer Theory (Dr. Piccitto).

In Dr. Zuk’s class, I recall being incredibly shocked that we were reading a book entitled Lionheart Gal: Life Stories of Jamaican Women. When I first opened the book, I noted that it was mainly written in Jamaican patois; this was the first moment that I realized that diversity and inclusion was truly valued by professors at MSVU and it’s a moment in my academic career that I will never forget.

I also thoroughly enjoyed preparing for a discussion facilitation in Dr. Piccitto’s course that allowed my peers and I to analyze Bermuda’s very first Pride Parade (2019) through an intersectional theoretical lens. It sparked a memorable, lively in class discussion about race and queerness.

What is your favourite location on campus and why?

This may be an odd answer, but my favourite location on campus is the fifth floor of Seton. During my time at MSVU, I estimate that 95% of my classes were on this floor and it became a comfortable and welcoming space for me. All of my English professors’ offices were on this floor, and they almost always had their doors open if you had a question about an assignment, or just wanted to say hello. Most of my peers in similar degree programs also took their courses on this floor so there was a familiar face around every corner, which I loved!

If you could share just one piece of advice with your pre-MSVU self, what would it be?

I would tell my pre-MSVU self not to be afraid to introduce myself to new people. I believe it is important to expose yourself to others with diverse life experiences and views of the world. Although I definitely came out of my shell as time went along, the sooner you let go of fear and start engaging with others in your community, the better! I found that the MSVU community was extremely friendly, and I had nothing to lose and much to gain from interacting with new people.

Do you have any favourite stories about your time at MSVU?

One day, Dr. Piccitto pulled me out of class and I was initially worried that something was wrong, but then she offered me a free ticket to see former US President Barack Obama speak in person and I have never been so excited! I have dreamt about seeing President Obama in the flesh since I was a little girl, but never thought it was possible as I lived in Bermuda. It was the best surprise ever!

I had a really fun professor for a night course that allowed us to order food to share among us before the beginning of class, which led me to conclude that learning and having fun aren’t mutually exclusive!

I also think I found snowstorms more entertaining than most. I only saw snow for the first time in person when I was 19! Admittedly, I am still not accustomed to the cold even after a few years of living in Canada, but snow is pretty to look at (from inside)!

What’s next for you?

My goal over the next several months is to gain some substitute teaching experience in Bermuda before applying for postgraduate degree programs in the field of education.

Anything you would like to add?

My time at MSVU genuinely helped me find my voice and my confidence. The community at MSVU has encouraged me to be more vocal at home, which subsequently pushed me to begin writing and in-depth critical analysis this summer, which illuminates how Black men have been systemically marginalized in Bermuda. This subsequently led to a speaking engagement at my old high school, where I had the privilege of talking to the student body about systemic oppression in light of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.

I would also like to mention my passion for working with children with autism as well as other neurodivergent youth. Over the past five years, I have had the pleasure of working and volunteering with Tomorrow’s Voices, a Bermuda-based charity that primarily functions as an autism early intervention centre. I worked under the guidance of trained behaviour therapists and helped run applied behaviour analysis therapy sessions, with the goal of developing clients’ academic and social skills, all while having fun!

For more pictures of Tess, go to the MSVU website:

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 (

ENGL 4427 divider

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!