Category Archives: Chris Ferns

AAUEC 2018 at the Mount

LAAUEC 2018 Annual Atlantic Undergraduate English Conferenceast weekend, the English Department at Mount Saint Vincent University welcomed students and faculty from eleven universities across the east coast for the Annual Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference (AAUEC), which showcases the academic papers and creative works of the region’s top English students. Founded here in 1981, this was the sixth time that the Mount has hosted the conference. Co-organized by Dr. Reina Green and Dr. Diane Piccitto along with conference assistants Katie O’Brien, Hope Tohme, and Sam VanNorden, the AAUEC 2018 was a resounding success!

Mount students at AAUEC welcome reception

Mount students at the welcome reception: Hope Tohme, Katie O’Brien, Rebecca Foster, and Courtney Francis

The conference began on Friday, March 2, in Seton Academic Centre with a Welcome Reception, where attendees participated in a lively round of icebreaker bingo – facilitated by English Society co-presidents Katie O’Brien and Hope Tohme – and heard a presentation by Formac Publishing to announce “Write to Win!” – a writing competition aimed at Atlantic Canadians 18-30 years old.

The afternoon included the first panel of the conference and was followed by ArtFest, held in the MSVU Art Gallery. Emceed by Alexia Major and Sam VanNordon (co-editors, with other MSVU students, of the Speakman Press), ArtFest featured short stories and poetry of participants and the work of special guests El Jones (MSVU’s Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies and poet and activist) and Chantelle Rideout (writer and MSVU English alumna), as well as a welcome address by Dr. Elizabeth Church (MSVU’s Vice-President Academic and Provost).

Day 2 – Saturday, March 3, was held in the Margaret Norrie McCain Centre, giving visitors a chance to spend time in the only building at a Canadian university to celebrate the achievements of women, highlighted in the Women’s Wall of Honour. The second day included four panels, covering topics such as ethics, bodies, politics, and trauma, and even involved one presenter from the Mount, Michelle Russell, Skyping in from Florida where she is training with the Canadian paddling team.

The afternoon ended in the Atrium with the Bad Poetry Reading, which was first begun by Dr. Chris Ferns (Professor Emeritus) in his days as an undergraduate and then initiated at the Mount in the 1980s, having since become an institution in the English Department. Dr. Ferns selected among the very worst poems written by published authors and emceed the event, charming the audience with his entertaining commentary over the course of the hour. Readers included past and current MSVU English students,  faculty members such as Professors Emeritus Dr. Susan Drain and Dr. Peter Schwenger, who performed memorable renditions of “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight” and “The Tay Bridge Disaster,” respectively. Afterward, participants and volunteers celebrated the two-day conference with a closing-night banquet and dance party – with DJ extraordinaire Dr. Steven Bruhm (former MSVU English student and professor) in Rosaria’s Multi-Purpose Room.

Mount students at AAUEC 2018

Some of the Mount student volunteers. Front, left to right: Katie O’Brien, Nicole Martina, Alex Rudderham, Sidney Warren.  Back, left to right: Sarah Vallis, Darcy Eisan, Sam VanNorden, Megan Bruce, Hope Tohme

The conference was marked by a wonderful energy from beginning to end, creating a stimulating inter-university intellectual community for English students and faculty. See our earlier post here for a list of Mount presenters.

We would like to thank the more than 50 presenters who shared their work at the AAUEC 2018 and the faculty who accompanied students as well as our emcees, guest speakers, and DJ. Thank you also to the President’s Office and the Dean of Arts and Science for their very necessary financial support and to MSVU staff (Catering, Conference Services, Art Gallery, IT Services, Facilities, Communications, Marketing, and Recruitment, Research Office, Book Store, Print Shop, and Security). Finally, a very special thank you to our conference assistants, all of our volunteers, Tracy McDonald (English Department Administrative Assistant), as well as the entire English Department for their instrumental involvement and support over the last several months.

AAUEC dance

AAUEC dance

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Bad Poetry Reading 2017

Bad poetry reading 2017

Lighten the winter blues and come to the
English Society Meet and Greet
and
Bad Poetry Reading
not your usual finger-snapping poetry evening
Wednesday, January 18
Seton 404
4:30

All welcome

The English Department began hosting an annual evening of bad poetry, organized by Dr. Chris Ferns, thirty years ago. It has become a much anticipated evening full of laughter at the expense of some of our most famous poets who have written some of the most dreadful poetry.

Come and join us to hear such classics as the “Ode on the Mammoth Cheese,” “The Mongrel,” and “The Bells,” the latter complete with a memorable chorus. Participation is also encouraged. If you would like to read a poem, let us know, and we will find one for you.

 

 

Rhoda Zuk receives CAUT Award

 

Dr. Rhoda Zuk, CAUT Dedicated Service Award

Dr. Rhoda Zuk with her CAUT Dedicated Service Award

Today at the Mount’s Faculty Association general meeting, Dr. Rhoda Zuk received the CAUT Dedicated Service Award. According to CAUT (Canadian Association of University Teachers), the award “was established to recognize exceptional service provided by individuals at the local or provincial level.” Dr. Zuk received a certificate of recognition at the meeting, and her name will be listed in the CAUT Bulletin and on their website, as well as announced at their Council meeting.

The English Department Chair, Dr. Reina Green, read a citation for her, which is excerpted below:

[Rhoda Zuk] is not only a valued colleague, but a mentor and an inspiration. She has been involved with the union since she began working here and over the last several years she has sat on the Faculty Association executive as secretary, president, and past-president. She has been a trustee of the CAUT Defence Fund, an executive member of the Nova Scotia Federation of University Faculty Associations—the forerunner of Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers–and she has been a member of our bargaining team not once, but twice. She quietly gets on with the job—whether the job is being chair of the department, sitting on senate, or being president of the union—with little fanfare or complaint and is considerate and gracious to all….

She has the knack of identifying the heart of a problem—the injustice at the core of it all. She is an advocate in all she does for the marginalized. She has been a proponent of Fair Work Week and an adamant supporter of our part-time colleagues, and is a vociferous advocate for students struggling with inadequate support, financial or otherwise. I know that at the bargaining table she would be equally adamant about our rights as faculty members and is most deserving of this award….

Rhoda Zuk is the fourth English Department member to receive this award, joining Susan Drain, Chris Ferns, and David Monaghan among the Mount’s previous recipients.

The Department extends its congratulations to Rhoda for this well-deserved award!

Public lecture series with Dr. Chris Ferns

ferns-2016

Professor Emeritus Chris Ferns is offering another series of public lectures in the Keshen Goodman public library this term. His topic is “Hard Times: Literature and the Industrial Revolution.” All the lectures are free and take place on Fridays 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. at 330 Lacewood Drive.

More about the series:

Today, the word “revolution” conjures up images of the massive political upheavals of the past — the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution — radical, violent changes that transformed society out of all recognition. Yet during the nineteenth century Britain underwent a process of transformation no less profound: the Industrial Revolution. By the end of the period it had emerged as the world’s first industrial Superpower, in control of nearly a quarter of the globe — but at an enormous cost in terms of human suffering. These lectures explore the ways in which writers of the period responded to the literally unprecedented changes taking place.

Schedule:

September 23. The Calm Before the Storm: Britain on the Eve of Revolution

September 30. Early Responses: Jane Austen and Walter Scott

October 7. Great Expectations? Dickens and the Industrial Revolution

October 14. The Ghosts on the Moors: Wuthering Heights and Social Change

October 21.  Maintaining Order: Middlemarch and Political Reform

October 28.  Fears for the Future: H.G.Wells and the Shape of Things to Come

 

All are welcome.

c-ferns-public-library-lecture-series-2016 poster [pdf]

keshen-sponsors

 

 

Convocation 2015 — Congratulations

May 14th was a glorious spring day in Halifax — the lawns greening nicely in the sun and the forsythia striking yellow sparks in all corners of the campus. The brightest sparks, however, were the graduates of the English Department, and their faculty are justly proud of them.

Convocation Day

Not all of them were able to assemble in the English Corner afterward, but you have to agree that those who did are a very fine lot.

You may notice a very unusual sight in the annual graduation photo: Dr. Chris Ferns attended Convocation to be named Professor Emeritus on his retirement. Congratulations Dr. Ferns. It’s a very distinguished honour and a well-deserved one. And he looks good in academic regalia!

Congratulations to all our graduates, in the BA and the BA (Honours)

Bachelor of Arts
Stacey DeMolitor*
Katrina Haight *
Drew Jackson
Tika Marie Jakobsen
Christina Kempster
Charlotte Kiddell*
Una Lounder*
Antonia Marynowski
Samantha Roy*
Grace Shaw*
Emma Smith
Thomas Jared Whitman*
* with distinction

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
Jessica Herritt
Geena Kelly
Shelby MacGregor
(with First class honours)

Honours Certificate in Arts
Rebecca Power

Lady Gaga, Victorian seance rooms, Canadian theatre, and more….recent research by faculty and students

Ever wonder what professors are doing when they’re not teaching? In addition to the work involved in preparing and delivering courses, professors are also expected to contribute to the administration of the university and to do research. In fact, a professor’s teaching is informed by her or his research. Our Recent Research Activities page will give you details on what faculty — and some students — have been up to since classes ended last April.

Ashgate CompanionFor example, you will find two recently published articles on our Recent Research page that share a Gothic theme. “Mirth as Medium: Spectacles of Laughter in the Victorian Seance Room” by Mackenzie Bartlett has been published in The Ashgate Research Companion to Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism and the Occult. And Karen Macfarlane‘s article, “The Monstrous House of Gaga,” is one of the essays in The Gothic in Contemporary Literature and Popular Culture: Pop Goth.

In addition, Reina Green has published  “’No good. Go home’: Past Lives and Disrupted Homes in Catherine Banks’s Three Storey, Ocean View” in Theatre Research in Canada.

Full bibliographical details about these articles are posted on our Recent Research Activities page. You can also read these articles if you check out the English Corner bulletin board (between Seton 510 and 511).  Dr. Macfarlane’s article has been posted there for several weeks and will be there for another week, and then Dr. Bartlett’s essay will be available from late October into November; Dr. Green’s article will be posted in January.

At the Borders of Sleep: On Liminal Literature

Professor Emeritus Peter Schwenger has a new book coming out from the University of Minnesota Press: At the Borders of Sleep: On Liminal Literature. Follow the link to learn more about Dr. Schwenger’s book and his previous publications.

While professors are doing research and preparing for publication, they often present conference papers on those topics as a way of sharing their preliminary research and seeking feedback. You will find on our Recent Research Activities page that since the end of classes in April English faculty — and a couple of students —  have been busy at various regional, national, and international conferences.

Back in April, for example, Rhoda Zuk spoke about her children’s literature research at the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association in Boston, specifically about white girl owners of black male dolls.

May is always a busy conference month for English faculty. Early in May, David Wilson, who has created an app for the study of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, spoke about using apps in class to the Creative Learning and Teaching conference at Dalhousie. Chris Ferns, who has extensive experience in collective bargaining in Nova Scotia universities, gave a paper at the Canadian Industrial Relations conference in Calgary. Susan Drain, along with Writing Minor student Kim Dunn, gave a presentation at the Canadian Association for Language and Learning, which met in Toronto near the end of May.

May is also the month in which many professors attend the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, which brings together over sixty Canadian scholarly associations for their annual meetings in a selected university. The 2012 Congress was held in Waterloo, Ontario at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.  As part of the Congress, Reina Green gave a paper on the Canadian playwright Catherine Banks to the Canadian Association for Theatre Research; Karen Macfarlane spoke about her Lady Gaga research to the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English and gave a talk to the Canadian Association of Chairs of English. English student Kim Sheppard delivered her first Congress paper, also to the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English, on the topic of  “The Epistemology of the Plus-Sized Closet: Fatness as Being, Fatness as Meaning.” Finally, the Canadian Society of Medievalists heard Anna Smol speak about children’s versions of Beowulf.

In June, Graham Fraser gave a paper at the Interdisciplinary/ Multidisciplinary Virginia Woolf Conference in Saskatoon.

The conference season continues into the current academic term. In September, Anna Smol gave a paper on J.R.R. Tolkien’s influence on criticism of the Old English poem Battle of Maldon at the Atlantic Medieval Association conference at Acadia University. Both Clare Goulet and Reina Green spoke in October at the Atlantic Universities Teaching Showcase conference in Fredericton. Clare Goulet’s presentation was titled “The Thirty-Minute Talking Cure” and Reina Green spoke about  “Workin’ Groups: Strategies for Successful Cooperative Learning.”

These have been busy months for English Department researchers who, even when not presenting at conferences or publishing articles, are engaged in their individual research programs. You can find out more about faculty research in the Faculty Profiles on our website and on our Recent Research page. You can also visit this blog regularly for updates on recent research in the English Department.

Dr. Chris Ferns: The History of the Future: Science Fiction in the 19th Century

History of Science Fiction: Dr. Ferns

Dr. Chris Ferns will be giving free lectures on nineteenth-century science fiction at the Keshen Goodman Public Library every Friday at 1:30 from September 21 to October 26.  Free admission; everyone welcome.

Join Professor Ferns for a fascinating voyage through the evolving genre of science fiction from its beginnings in the early 1800s to the end of the century. How did writers and artists of the period imagine the future — the world we now live in? Explore the social and scientific developments that inspired the landmark novels, how contemporary audiences reacted to these imaginative works, and why they continue to intrigue us today.

Friday, September 21, 1:30 p.m. Before Science Fiction

Friday, September 28, 1:30 p.m. Frankenstein

Friday, October 5, 1:30 p.m. Frankenstein and its Legacy

Friday, October 12, 1:30 p.m. Jules Verne: the Father of Science Fiction?

Friday, October 19, 1:30 p.m. What Does the Future Really Hold in Store? H.G. Wells and the Theory of Evolution

Friday, October 26, 1:30 p.m. Future Wars: H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds.