Author Archives: msvuenglish

About msvuenglish

Department of English, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Meet our 2017-18 honours students

As a small undergraduate department, we have an opportunity to give our Honours students an intensive research experience in which they spend a year working as apprentice scholars in our ENGL 4499 Honours Thesis course. Under the supervision of a faculty member, each Honours student develops a research topic, presents her findings to students and faculty in an Honours colloquium, and writes up her findings in an undergraduate thesis of approximately 50 pages.

Read about this year’s Honours students and what they’re working on:

Katelyn O’Brien

Katelyn O'BrienMy thesis focuses on the characteristics of an emerging genre of literature called “Sartorial Memoir” (to borrow Emily Spivack’s term). “Sartorial Memoir” is a genre that concerns itself with people, clothing, and most importantly, people’s relationship to and with their clothing. I will be exploring how specific conventions of this genre, such as photography, ‘worn-ness’ and collective narrative all contribute to shape the genre and emphasize sentimentality/memory. The three texts I will examine are Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry by Leanne Shapton, Worn Stories by Emily Spivack, and Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton.

Hope Tohme

Hope TohmeHope Tohme’s research consists of human statues, hunger artists, and museum exhibits. Her readings of Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist”, Edward Carey’s Observatory Mansions, and Beckett’s Catastrophe emphasize the “thingness” of the human body, particularly during the absurd performances presented in these texts. Bill Brown’s Thing Theory serves as a basis for her argument that the human body can be reduced to, not only an object, but a thing – an object with an indeterminate use; an object that no longer fulfills the purpose it was meant to.

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If you’re a Mount English student and think you might be interested in an Honours degree, speak to your faculty advisor or the Department Chair. You can find some information about our Honours program on our Course Guide webpage.

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Dramatic reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The English Department is hosting a reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Wednesday, November 15th at 4:30 in Seton 404. All students, staff, and faculty are welcome. If you’re interested in reading a role, small or large, contact Dr. Diane Piccitto, or just come to listen. Refreshments will be served.

Oberon, Titania and Puk with Fairies Dancing by William Blake

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing c.1786 William Blake

Fall 2017 Convocation

Congratulations to all who graduated on Sunday, November 5th. Fall convocation is always smaller than the spring event but no less important. This year, convocation also included the official installation of Dr. Mary Bluechardt as the new president of the Mount.

Kyle Cross, B.A. Honours in English

Kyle Cross, B.A. Honours

Kyle Cross graduated with a B.A. Honours in English. Kyle is now in the B.Ed. program at the Mount.

Barbara Cochrane, one of the morning Valedictorians, graduated with a B.A. in French and a Writing Minor. She gave a lively address, drawing on her life experiences to give some good advice to the graduates. You can read her profile here. A couple of the English Department’s Writing courses and participation in the Annual Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference are some of the highlights of her Writing Minor experiences:

She remembers her courses in creative writing and editing most fondly. In 2012, she received an award from the Department of English for one of her written works, titled “Passed Down.” The piece focuses on obsessive compulsive disorder, combining parts of her grandfather’s diary from World War I, a poem written by her daughter, and her own obsession with counting as she works. She later presented it at an undergraduate English conference at St. Thomas University.  (From the Mount’s online profile)

Barbara Cochrane Valedictorian 2017

Above: Barbara Cochrane delivering the valedictory address.  Image from the Mount’s Facebook page.

Our Indigenous Canadian Children’s Lit class welcomes Alan Syliboy

by Samantha VanNorden *

Alan Syliboy

 Dr. Alan Syliboy with his book, The Thundermaker

On October 10th, Dr. Alan Syliboy presented a talk to students and faculty at MSVU’s Aboriginal Student Centre. Dr. Syliboy began the discussion by giving the audience some context for his book The Thundermaker. For Syliboy, the reality of growing up as an indigenous person was that school was something for him to endure. He told us that while he and his family and friends were fluent in Mi’kmaq, he lost his fluency during his enrollment in a Catholic school, where indigenous students were not allowed to speak it. This sort of outlawing of speech led to dispersion of the language, and Syliboy explained that he is now having to relearn it. 

Syliboy art

Left: two of Syliboy’s cards with original artwork. Right: The Thundermaker cover and the back matter on the cards

These ideas of relearning and of finding voice are evident in the text of The Thundermaker. Little Thunder’s mother Giju is a storyteller, and it is through her that Little Thunder learns about his identity: to be the Thundermaker. Being the Thundermaker means Little Thunder must take his father’s place in the role, which suggests renewal, but it also has a larger meaning in the circle of life. The Thundermaker’s job is to strike the old dead trees and burn them to make room for new life. This, too, has markings of renewal, balance, and cyclicality. Little Thunder learns of this through the story cycles his mother tells him within the warmth of the wigwam.

Syliboy informed us that the story cycles were shared during the winter and explained that this telling and retelling of stories functions like a “hard drive,” in this case, grounding and reinforcing culture. To pass on these stories is seen as a responsibility, and Dr. Syliboy is certainly adding to the layers of storytelling with his visual artistry, his writing, and his book The Thundermaker.

The Thundermaker by Alan Syliboy

Syliboy signed a copy of The Thundermaker for MSVU professor Dr. Rhoda Zuk. He included some fabulous artwork as well

If you want to find out if Little Thunder succeeds in becoming the Thundermaker or about his journey on this path with friends such as Wolverine, you can (and should!) pick up a copy of The Thundermaker.

 You can purchase it from Nimbus Publishing here:
https://www.nimbus.ca/store/children-and-teen/children-4-8/thundermaker-the.html

Syliboy merchandise

Some of the merchandise available after Dr. Syliboy’s talk

Dr. Syliboy’s visit was arranged by Dr. Rhoda Zuk for her Indigenous Canadian Children’s Literature class (ENGL 3305).

* Samantha VanNorden is a fourth-year English student at the Mount. She is the English Department’s media assistant for 2017-2018.

8 Spooky Stories for Halloween

by Olivia Ingraham*

Looking for a creepy story to curl up with on a cold autumn night? In search of a tale that puts the BOO in books? Then look no further! Here’s a comprehensive list of classic long and short fiction that is seasonally appropriate for the spookiest time of year.

from 1910 Frankenstein movie

from the 1910 Frankenstein movie

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

Originally published in 1897 by Irish author Bram Stoker, Dracula is in many ways the Mother-Of-All vampire fiction. The original tale of Count Dracula documents the prolific vampire’s journey from Transylvania to England; and while there may be a distinct lack of sparkles, it is very nearly as scary as Twilight.

2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Widely regarded as the first work of science fiction, Frankenstein (originally subtitled The Modern Prometheus) is a classic work of monster literature, depicting Victor Frankenstein’s disastrous foray into playing god. It’s important to remember the following: knowledge is knowing Frankenstein was not the monster, wisdom is knowing that he truly was, and condescension is feeling the need to correct every person who doesn’t know the difference.

3. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

Published in 1886, Stevenson’s classic novella presents the mysterious tale of the reputable Dr. Henry Jekyll and the evil Edward Hyde in what is one of the most widely spoiled but most shocking plot twists in classic literature.

4. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)

The only novel published by Wilde, the uncanny story imparts the important message that while beauty may be fleeting, creepy oil paintings are forever.

5. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)

This short story documents the gradual descent into madness of a woman living in a creepy country house for the summer with her physician husband. As the tale unfolds, she grows convinced she sees eyes in the wallpaper of her bedroom.

6. “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1835)

Have you ever been walking in the woods at night and then literally met Satan? Me neither, but Young Goodman Brown did! Highlighting and undermining the idea of inherent human goodness, Hawthorne makes you question whether or not everyone you know worships the devil! Spoooooky.

7. “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)

It would be impossible to compile a list of creepy, Halloween-appropriate literature and not include at least one work by Poe. This eerie short story depicts an unidentified narrator who is driven to murder and is then plagued by the phantom sound of his victim’s beating heart under the floorboards.

8. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving (1820)

The classic story that made famous the “headless horseman,” Irving’s tale, like so many before, chronicles two men (nervous schoolteacher Ichabod Crane and hypermasculine Brom Bones) fighting over a girl – but, again, not quite as scary as Twilight.

Do you have a favourite work of spooky literature to read at Halloween? Let us know on twitter – @MSVU_English or in our MSVU English Society Facebook group.

(Note: many of the stories referenced above are available through the MSVU Library if you’re looking to check them out!)

*Olivia Ingraham is currently enrolled in the Communication Studies program at MSVU, with a triple minor in English, Psychology, and French. She lives in Halifax and is always very well caffeinated.

Dr. Nathaniel Street’s profile on Mount homepage

Dr. Nathaniel Street

Dr. Nathaniel Street

The English Department is pleased to welcome Dr. Nathaniel Street to our faculty. Dr. Street is the new Co-ordinator of our Writing Minor program and teaches several of our Writing courses.

The Mount has published a profile of Dr. Street on the University homepage.  Take a look!

Read more about our Writing Minor.

 

Faculty to present at 2017 Atlantic Teaching Showcase

Teaching award winner David Wilson will be sharing some of his best ideas at the 2017 Teaching Showcase, to be held at the Mount on Saturday, October 14. Professor Wilson will be presenting in what is known as the “Furious Fives” session — a quick series of five-minute talks packed with ideas to take away from the conference. David Wilson offers this summary of his talk:

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https://i0.wp.com/www.msvu.ca/site/media/msvu/davidwilson.JPG

David Wilson, recipient of the 2017 MSVU Part-time Teaching Award

Does your class often end with a fade to black?

Rather than merely telling students during the last 5 minutes of a class what will happen in the next one, a more effective teaching practice is showing them. This “Furious Five” session will quickly demonstrate tips on how to briefly preview (and promote) a topic during the closing moments of a class that bridges what students have just learned, so that they will be curious and look forward to learning more in the next class. The final five minutes of a class can serve as a memorable pivot point that keeps students motivated. The key to accomplishing this goal is to capture students’ attention. Moreover, the best way to make these connections between classes is by using a lively activity that encourages participation. Thus, attendees at this session can expect to be involved in the fun.

 

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The experiential learning opportunities offered by our department will be on display during the conference as well.  Dr. Anna Smol will be organizing a display that features the English Department’s many hands-on learning activities, from participation at the Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference, to part-time jobs as writing tutors and research assistants, to the many course-related activities that our students engage in.

David Wilson‘s talk will be given on Saturday, October 14 in a session scheduled from  4:25 to 4:50 in McCain 105.

Anna Smol‘s experiential learning display will be in the Rosaria Terrace from 11:30 to 1:30.

The Saturday Teaching Showcase conference is part of a three-day series of events. On Thursday night at 7 p.m. a public lecture by special guest and keynote speaker James Lang, author of Small Teaching and Cheating Lessons, will take place in the Rosaria Multipurpose Room. A workshop with Dr. Lang will be held on Friday morning before the Showcase takes place on Saturday.  For details, including the schedule, see more information here.

 

Alan Syliboy visit, October 10

The English Department is pleased to present Alan Syliboy, author and illustrator of The Thundermaker. Dr. Syliboy is an internationally renowned Mi’kmaw painter, sculptor, filmmaker, musician, and social justice activist.

Tuesday, October 10
Noon
MSVU Aboriginal Student Centre

You can take a look at Syliboy’s art and listen to his music on his website: alansyliboy.ca, which also links to his Facebook page. You can also find him on Twitter, @AlanSyliboy, where you can see a daily sample of his artwork.  This image, posted on October 3, comes from his drum series:

Alan Syliboy, drum series. posted on Oct. 3, 2017 @AlanSyliboy

Drum Series, from @AlanSyliboy, posted October 3, 2017.

 

 

Dr Fraser to speak at Research Remixed

Dr. Graham Fraser will be one of the speakers at the Mount’s annual Research Remixed event on Tuesday, October 3rd. His talk is scheduled for 11:15 in the Multi-Purpose Room in Rosaria.  Here’s a preview of what he’ll be talking about:

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Virginia Woolf, Spectro-Modernism, and the Afterlife of Things

Dr. Graham Fraser
Tuesday, October 3, 11:15 a.m.
Multi-Purpose Room, Rosaria

“Think of a kitchen table, when you’re not there” challenges Andrew Ramsay in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, distilling his father’s empiricist philosophy. Woolf’s writings are fascinated by the world of objects removed from human perception or context – objects that are abandoned, disused, broken. Yet Woolf’s own attention to inanimate (yet lively) objects is so exquisite that Michel Serres can write that in her work, “inanimate objects have a soul.” This presentation will discuss how my work traces the progress of these inanimate souls from their domestic lives in human service, through their abandonment and decay, and finally into their afterlives as ghostly, illegible debris.

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Dr. Graham Fraser

Dr. Graham Fraser

You can read more about Dr. Fraser’s research here.

Research Remixed brings together researchers from across the university who present their work in short talks or posters. The event starts at 9 a.m. and goes until 1 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room in Rosaria.  All are welcome to drop in during the day.  You can download the full Research Remixed schedule here.

 

 

Dr Green on war and peace in art

Community Stories of War and Peace public lecture series

Dr. Reina Green, along with local artist Jessica L. Wiebe, will be speaking about representations of war and peace in art on Friday, September 29, at 1:30 in the Keshen Goodman Library.  Her talk is part of a series of Friday presentations organized by the Mount Network for Community-Engaged Research on War (NCERW) in collaboration with other community groups.

Dr. Reina Green

Dr. Reina Green

You can read more about Dr. Green’s research here.

The Network for Community-Engaged Research on War is interested in “exploring what stories of war and peace are being told, identifying which stories are more visible and which are marginalized, and understanding how war affects us in diverse and overlapping ways.”

All of the talks take place from 1:30 – 2:30 in the Keshen Goodman Public Library, 330 Lacewood Drive, Halifax. Other topics to be presented include military families, peace perspectives, refugee experiences, and the Halifax Explosion. For more details about future talks, please see the Community Stories poster [pdf 3.9 MB].

keshen-sponsors