Category Archives: Karen Macfarlane

Grad School Info Session 2016, October 19
4:30 – 5:30
Seton 532

Why go to grad school?
How do I choose a school?
How do I apply?
What are the funding options?

Students are invited to an informal information session about graduate school with Dr. Karen Macfarlane. This session is open to everyone (you don’t have to be in your final year!) so if you are even curious about what is involved in applying for graduate programs in the humanities, come along!

Attendance can count towards the new English Department Professionalization Co-curricular Credit.

Please email Dr. Karen Macfarlane at to let her know if you are planning to attend.


Victorian Monsters: public lecture series

monster1Creatures like werewolves, mummies, and vampires stalked the Victorian imagination, challenging limits and disturbing certainties. The Victorians had a mania for collecting, categorizing, and accumulating what one critic has called “comprehensive knowledge.” But these systems were incomplete and unreliable. The gap between the known and the unknown suggested similar gaps in other systems that claimed to order Victorian culture. These gaps are the place of the monster.

Join Dr. Karen Macfarlane for an entertaining and eye-opening exploration of the relation between some of the more famous Victorian monster texts (Dracula, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and some lesser known works, and their place in the society that they reflect.

Where:  Keshen-Goodman Library Branch                             monster2
330 Lacewood Drive

When:    Fridays, 1:30 – 2:30.  See the schedule below.

Free public lecture  series offered in partnership with the Halifax Public Libraries.


January 22:  Victorian Culture, “Other Sciences,” the Occult, Mourning

January 29:  Victorian Culture: Empire, Knowledge and the Unknowable (Rudyard Kipling, H. Rider Haggard)

monster3February 5:  Museum Goth (Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard)

February 12:  Mummy Knows Best: Reanimated Mummies (Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker’s Jewel of Seven Stars)

February 19:  No lecture

February 26: “The Gods of the East”: English Bodies in Imperial Outposts (Rudyard Kipling’s Supernatural Stories)

March 4:  Invasion Scare: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Richard Marsh’s The Beetle.

March 11:  Our bodies, our Others: Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Zombies and the Viral Web

virusDr. Karen Macfarlane is giving at talk on this topic at the English Colloquium at Dalhousie University, on Friday January 30th.

All are invited to attend: Just turn up at 3:45 pm in Room 1198 of the McCain building.

Warning: Enthusiasm for this topic may be infectious, and interest in it may refuse to die.

Blurbs 2014: Conversations about Research

Ever wonder what English faculty and students are working on?  BLURBS is an annual event organized by Mackenzie Bartlett that features students and faculty talking about their research in brief, informal presentations, covering anything from big-picture brainstorming to the more developed stages of composition. Everyone is welcome to attend as people exchange thoughts, research tips, and other helpful pointers in a casual environment.

Thursday, November 20
4:30 – 6:00
Seton 404
(cookies provided!)

Today’s presenters include honours students who are working on their theses: Jessica Herritt on representations of evil and corruption in Tolkien’s works, Geena Kelly on gendered roles in science fiction, Shelby MacGregor on adaptation theory and representations of gender in the Hunger Games series,  and Rebecca Power on alliterative poetry and adapting Tolkien’s Beren and Lúthien legends.  Along with thesis students, several faculty members will also talk about their work: Reina Green on the impact of performance space on audience-actor relationships;  Karen Macfarlane on museum gothic and zombies, and Anna Smol on doing archival research on Tolkien’s manuscripts.

Come to listen, to share your thoughts, to be inspired, or to help inspire!

Recent Research Activities – Fall 2013

We usually post recent publications by English faculty on the bulletin board in the English Corner (Seton 5th floor between rooms 510 and 511). You have a couple of days left in which to read the first article posted this semester: Rhoda Zuk‘s essay (co-written with Donna Varga) on “Golliwogs and Teddy Bears: Children’s Popular Culture and ‘Innocent’ Racism” which was published in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Popular Culture.  You can also hear Dr. Zuk talking about her research in an interview on BBC Radio’s “Thinking Allowed” program, which aired a couple of times this summer.

Next up on the Recent Publications bulletin board will be Reina Green‘s essay, “Educating for Pleasure: The Textual Relations of She’s the Man.”  This article presents Dr. Green’s research on Shakespeare, film, and fanvids, and appears in Reinventing the Renaissance: Shakespeare and his Contemporaries in Adaptation and Performance, edited by Sarah Annes Brown, Lynsey McCulloch, and Robert Lublin, published by Palgrave (2013).  The essay will be available in the English Corner until the end of the fall term.

Members of the English Department have also been busy this semester giving talks and conference papers. Most recently, Karen Macfarlane gave a talk to a packed house at Hal-Con on November 8.  She was on a panel, along with Dalhousie professors Jason Haslam and Julia Wright, called “Creature Feature: The Meaning of Monsters.”  The week before on November 1st, she gave a talk in the Dalhousie English Department’s Speaker Series on “Life’s a Scream: American Horror Stories.”

A few weeks ago on October 26, Anna Smol gave a paper at the Annual Atlantic Universities’ Teaching Showcase at Mount Allison University.  Her presentation, “Voicing Interpretations: Peer Learning and Self-Assessment in a First-Year Literature Assignment,” discussed a recitation and review assignment that her English 1170 students do every year. An abstract is available here.

Clare Goulet gave a guest lecture on October 24 at the University of King’s College on metaphor/nonmetaphorical thinking and scientific discovery, for a seminar in Contemporary Aesthetic and Critical Theory – Lyric Philosophy.

As part of Celebrating Writing / Publishing Week last month, the English Department sponsored its annual “Blurbs: Conversations about Research and Writing” session organized by Mackenzie Bartlett — an informal gathering in which faculty and students talk briefly about their research in progress. This year’s session on October 17 included a “blurb” by Tina Northrup, who talked about a large interdisciplinary project she is planning to conduct on the relationship between ecopoetics and ecopedagogies in Canada, exploring the intersections between poetics, education, and environmentalist discourses. Honours student Skye Bryden-Blom talked about her thesis research on film adaptations of Jane Eyre, particularly on how the relationship between Jane and Bertha is presented in terms of Lacan’s theory of the gaze. Charlotte Kiddell discussed her directed study project, supervised by Dr. Northrup, on the politics of poetic language, with a specific focus on feminist and anti-racist scholarship.

If you’re interested in our department’s research, you can find a  more complete list of faculty publications and conference papers on our Recent Research Activities webpage and on some individual Faculty Profiles.  And don’t forget to check the English Corner bulletin board regularly for new publications; we have quite a lineup for the new year, which will see work posted by Jackie Cameron, Lynne Evans, Clare Goulet, and Anna Smol.

Thank you, Dr. Macfarlane!

Thank you Dr. MacfarlaneWe would like to thank Dr. Karen Macfarlane for her service as Chair of the English Department for the past four years. Dr. Macfarlane carried a heavy administrative load by chairing the department while also serving in other significant administrative positions in the university.  We’re happy – as she must be too! – that she can now relinquish these responsibilities and  look forward to a year of sabbatical leave during which she can focus on her research projects. Thank you, Karen!

Dr. Rhoda Zuk now becomes Chair of the English Department for 2013-2014.

Scholarly activities November – December

A number of people from the English Department were involved in giving talks and interviews as the fall term wound to a close.

On November 14, Karen Macfarlane organized a panel called  “Visual Culture: Icons, Memes and Visual Literacy” for the Cross Campus Conversations series sponsored by the Research Office. The panel brought together researchers from the Political Studies Department and from Education, as well as Dr. Macfarlane, whose paper was titled “Icons, Bodies and Propaganda.”

Cross Campus Conversations 2012 poster

On November 15, Anna Smol gave a talk to faculty at St. Thomas University (via Distance Learning) on “Wikipedia and Participatory Culture.”

David Wilson, after experimenting with an open class using Twitter in November, was interviewed  in the online magazine published by Mount PR students, Symmetry, in an article titled “#WRIT22: Social Media in the Classroom.”  Look for more from Professor Wilson on this topic on our blog soon.

Susan Drain published a poem in an anthology titled Desperately Seeking Susans, and she was one of the authors interviewed on CBC radio.

Several of our Honours students gave their “blurbs” about their thesis research at an event during Celebrating Writing Week in November. Speakers included Courtney Church, Jessica Gaudon, Krista Hill, Kae Lin Larder, and Nolan Pike. We’ll be hearing more about their research in the weeks and months ahead. Mackenzie Bartlett, who organized the event, also spoke about some of her research plans, as did Graham Fraser.

For more information about recent faculty and student research, take a look at our summary of  research activities from last spring to this September.  A list of recent publications and talks can also be found on the English Department’s Recent Research Activities webpage.

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.