Category Archives: Our students and grads

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.

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.


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.

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.

Meet & Greet Monday Sept. 25

Please join us for the Mount English Meet and Greet!

  • Discover who we are and what we do.
  • Meet other English and Writing students.
  • Get to know the professors.
  • Learn about our programs.
  • Meet special guest, El Jones, poet, activist, and Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies.
  • Hear about upcoming events.

Refreshments will be served.

Current students and alumnae are invited!

Monday, September 25
4:30 – 6:00
Seton 404


Congratulations English grads 2017

It was a lovely spring day for the 2017 B.A. convocation on Friday, May 19th. Congratulations to our newest English alumni.

English grads and faculty 2017

We managed to gather almost all of the English grads for this photo, along with attending faculty. From left to right, Dr. Reina Green, Dr. Karen Macfarlane. Back row: David Wilson, Luke Hammond, Kevin Smith, Andrew Potter, Ryan Terry, Dr. Anna Smol. Front, left to right: Cassadie Day, Sarah Vallis, Allyson Roussy, Gavin Rollins, Dr. Diane Piccitto, Dr. Susan Drain.

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Allyson K. Roussy (with first-class honours)

Sarah K. Vallis (with first-class honours)

Bachelor of Arts (Major)

Duaa Chamsi Basha

Cassadie F. Day

Luke P. Hammond

Michael Luciano

Andrew Potter

Gavin L. Rollins

Ryan K. Terry

Bachelor of Arts (Combined Major)

Kevin Smith (English and History)

Congratulations also to Professor David Wilson, who received the MSVU Part-Time Teaching Award and to Dr. Susan Drain, who was awarded the rank of Professor Emerita.

Graduates, please keep in touch! If you haven’t already, please join the English Society Facebook group or follow us on Twitter or Instagram to keep up with our activities. Or subscribe for email notifications from this blog (scroll down on this page to find the subscription form). However you do it, let us know where your future adventures take you!

Watch this blog for more convocation pictures in the days ahead.

Places to Write: Lucky Penny

There are still a few more days in the term to finish off those essays! Here is the last in the series on Places to Write by our media assistant, Kyle Cross.

Places to Write: Time Travel in Lucky Penny Coffee Co.
by Kyle Cross

Places to Write: Lucky Penny Coffee Co.Located at 6440 Quinpool Road, Lucky Penny Coffee Co. is a small coffee shop with an immensely atmospheric quality that you won’t find anywhere else in Halifax. Everything about this café radiates ‘history’; everything sends you back to the past without ever leaving the present. It is, in many ways, like a brand new antique.

The dessert plates and saucers recall a bygone era. In fact, as one staff member tells me, every dish is vintage. Even the pennies sitting in a pool of water with real (yes, REAL) flowers take you back in time; they are, like the saucer pictured above, out of circulation and thus a thing of the past.

The stained mahogany tables and the antique dishes make me feel like I’m at Le Dôme Café or La Rotonde in Montparnasse, two historic literary cafés that were frequented by such writers as Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. Lucky Penny’s thick, wooden antique tables, along with its vintage mahogany decorum, give the café this Modernist salon-like atmosphere. The crowd at Lucky Penny also tends to consist of students of the Arts, as a staff member tells me, and, as I glance at others around me, I see a woman reading a novel by Atwood, another reading a book of poetry, and a man reading Kafka. I get the feeling that I’m in Paris, but I am, of course, sitting in a café on Quinpool Road. Needless to say, it is a great place to read, write, create stories, eat scrumptious desserts, and drink fine coffee.

Lucky Penny Coffee Co. interiorInstead of cheap over-priced drinks, Lucky Penny serves heavenly coffee. Do try Lucky Penny’s Black Honey brew, a medium blend roasted locally in Berwick, Nova Scotia. The coffee is a blend of the global and the local. Its beans are grown in Costa Rica and roasted in Berwick. Lucky Penny might be described as an establishment of glocalization, what with the locally roasted yet foreign coffee beans and the vintage 20th-century, European-style decor.

Lucky Penny Coffee CoLucky Penny is very much a fusion of the past and the present. The banner for Queen Elizabeth High School, which was shut down in 2007, also creeps up on and invades the present. Like the pennies, the Queen Elizabeth banner is a thing from the past, although it does sport the name of the current reigning queen.

The interpenetration of past and present, along with the interplay of global and local culture, makes Lucky Penny a great place for creative intellectuals to let their imaginations run free.

(Please note that Kyle has no personal or professional affiliations with the places he writes about).

Places to Write: Lion & Bright

It’s essay-writing season!  If you’re looking for Places to Write off campus, our media assistant Kyle Cross has some suggestions for you. Today we have the second installment in the series, this one about Kyle’s visit to Lion & Bright. (We note again that Kyle has no affiliation with the places he’s writing about).

Places to Write: The Locality of Lion & Bright
by Kyle Cross

Located in the re-developed community of Halifax’s North End on Agricola Street, Lion & Bright is a spacious café and wine bar that serves both locally-roasted coffee and local food. I feel that the owners are too humble when they characterize their establishment as a café / wine bar; it is also a restaurant, a local grocery, an arts space, and a proper bar – a place where you can buy fresh produce, delicious coffee, a work of art, or a Screwdriver (a vodka orange, that is).

Because it’s so spacious, this café / bar/ restaurant has plenty of seating. You can claim a place on the long wooden bench, on a stool at the bar, or in a comfy leather chair on the perimeter of the room. Wherever you choose, you’ll have more than enough space to read, write, study, as well as eat and drink.

Need some coffee to fuel your writing? Lion & Bright serves North Mountain Coffee, which is roasted locally in Berwick, N.S.  Pictured below are Lion & Bright’s London Fog and North Mountain Peruvian Blend, an electrifying medium roast that will surely awaken your third eye. Looking for a unique caffeinated beverage to indulge in?  Try their Red Wine Hot Chocolate or Red Velvet Mocha, which I highly recommend! (Imagine an espresso infused with red velvet cake).

kyle 6

And if you’re craving some protein while you’re working away on that end-of-term paper, you can take advantage of Lion & Bright’s kitchen and order one of their pulled-pork quesadillas; it’s to die for. Or if you want to shake off your nerves after studying for that accumulative exam you can head to the bar and order a Blueberry G, made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka, house-made blueberry juice, natural cane sugar, and carbonated club soda. Lion & Bright also has on tap various locally-brewed beer, and both local and imported wines are available.

The brick wall, elongated beams, fog lights, and exposed vents make Lion & Bright seem like an abandoned distillery or warehouse. In fact, its interior is inspired by European café culture, as one staff member tells me, where many cafés are situated in historic buildings that were once textile or flour mills, or other production plants and factories.

This place howls with creative energy. It also serves as an art gallery and hosts various events such as art exhibits, poetry readings, and musical and theatrical performances by local up-and-coming artists.

It goes without saying that Lion & Bright is a university student’s paradise, given that here you can seque from study time to social time. Glancing at others around me, I see groups of students and young professionals alike discussing their ideas with each other, drinking their beer while they either agree or disagree with the theories of their peers. If Karl Marx and Engels were alive today and living in Halifax, they would be at Lion & Bright arguing about and debating the specifics of The Communist Manifesto, trying to figure out how to unite the workers and intellectuals of the world, all while enjoying their locally-grown grub.

kyle 10 (1)

You should experience the unique atmosphere of Lion & Bright, whether it’s to do school work, go out for dinner, or have a couple of drinks. You can even buy your groceries at the Local Source Market, which is attached to the café and belongs to the same owner. For information on Lion & Bright, visit their website:


Hands-on Research by English Honours Students

Our English Honours students have a rare opportunity to spend a year researching and writing in the manner of professional literary critics and theorists. Under the supervision of a professor, they select a topic, develop it through research, and write a substantial scholarly work. Last week, our current Honours students presented their research to the department in our annual Honours Colloquium.

Meet our 2016-17 Honours students:

Kyle Cross

Kyle Cross Honours 2016-17

My thesis explores John Gardner’s novel Grendel, which is an adaptation of Beowulf told from the monster’s perspective.  In my project, I employ postcolonial theory — mainly the theories of Edward Said and Homi K. Bhabha — to explore the ways in which Gardner portrays the relationship between the monster and the Danes.

Allyson Roussy

Allyson Roussy Honours 2016-17

With a focus on children’s literature, I am examining how structures of surveillance, specifically the panoptical structure, are used for the social conditioning and social control of children. I will be working with Mary Martha Sherwood’s The Fairchild Family, Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

Alexandra Rudderham

Alexandra Rudderham Honours 2016-17

My thesis focuses exclusively on novels and short stories by Thomas King. A self-described “contemporary Native writer,” King blends written narratives with oral traditions. I am interested in his specific brand of interfusional storytelling: King creates an intentionally liminal space and deconstructs assumptions about the way stories are told and perceived. The novel Green Grass, Running Water, short stories “One Good Story, That One” and “Coyote Goes West” are a few of the texts I use to explore King’s methods of replicating the spoken voice through written narrative. In my research, I am considering authority and a possible capital-T “Truth” in storytelling.


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.

Career Services: Planning Your Future in the Present

kyle-career-servicesMany students don’t know about the free services offered by the Mount’s Career Planning office, which has just announced its Winter schedule of workshops and events. In fact, the first event of the term is scheduled for this Wednesday, January 11 and is specifically designed for B.A. students: a drop-in with an Arts faculty member in the Link to discuss career and academic planning.

Our student media assistant, Kyle Cross, decided to find out more about Career Services, so he booked a resume check-up and discovered some important facts about cover letters, resumes, and the importance of consulting with a career advisor as early as possible in your time at the Mount. Below is his report on the experience.

Career Services: Planning Your Future in the Present
–Kyle Cross

Last term, I went to the Mount’s Career Services for advice on my resume and cover letter. Jacob, the advisor who reviewed my materials, informed me that, unfortunately, I was the only Arts student with whom he had ever met. Needless to say, it looks like we Arts students need to be schooled in the domain of career planning.

If you’re in university, it is probably because, when you graduate, you want to be able to get a fulfilling job that pays relatively well. So imagine you’ve completed your degree; you’re ecstatic because you know you are on your way to becoming a teacher, an editor, a journalist, a lawyer. You’ve learned important skill sets, and you have the qualifications to pursue any number of potential careers. If you wait until after you graduate to plan your career, however, chances are you will have a difficult time finding a rewarding job in your field of expertise. Jacob also told me that most students he meets with are in their third and fourth year of their undergraduate degree. He explained to me that when students come to Career Services in their first and second year, they are 50% more likely to obtain a job in their field of study than are students who wait until their third and fourth year of their degree. The former students have a one- and two-year jump on the latter; they have more knowledge in career planning and looking for a job than do the latter.

kyle-career-2If you’re a Mount student, I strongly encourage you to book an appointment with an advisor at Career Services. Their office is in room 306 of the McCain Centre, but you must go to room 312 (pictured left) in order to book your appointment. In addition to reviewing resumes and cover letters, Career Services offers assistance in choosing a career, looking for a job in your field of interest, and finding out what, exactly, you can do with your degree. An advisor at Career Services will guide you through a successful job search and help you plan your career path.

The Review

I would like to take you through some things I learned during the review of my job application documents. I’ll start with the cover letter, which is what your potential future employer will first see, so it must be presentable. Jacob suggested that I write my cover letter in paragraph form – in particular, tri-paragraph form – similar to what might appear on a resume.

In the first paragraph, you should introduce yourself and your future plans; if you’re writing your Honours thesis in English, for instance, or majoring in Sociology, put that in your cover letter. In the second paragraph, you are selling yourself. Inform your future employer of your qualifications and technical skills, explaining why and how they are relevant to the job for which you are applying. Finally, in paragraph three, reiterate what is in your resume and provide the employer with your contact information.

Now, on to the resume. Jacob told me something that I didn’t know; he told me that, contrary to popular belief, the order of both your education credentials and work experience should not be in chronological order. Rather, they should be ordered in the form of most recent to oldest – reverse chronological order. The purpose of this format is to show your potential employer what you are now doing with your life or what you have done in the near past because this will be of most interest compared with things you did several years ago.

However, you should definitely include past experiences and jobs – whether part-time or full-time, short term or long term – on your resume. What’s more, you should also expand on your experiences to explain how what you learned and did there is pertinent to the skills you can offer in the present. For example, if you worked in the fast food or restaurant industry, you should emphasize that working in food services requires team-work, communication skills, and even sales skills. Even if you think your past work experiences don’t seem relevant for the particular job to which you are currently applying, you can still elaborate on the skills needed to work, for example, at McDonald’s to show that you did more than flip burgers.

In my resume, I had included a section entitled “Hobbies and Interests.” Do not – I repeat, do NOT – make this a heading in your resume. Instead, highlight your “Volunteer Experience” or your “Community Involvement,” which might consist of sports clubs you were involved with or extra-curricular activities in which you participated. There are technical skills associated with such activities, like team-building skills and an ability to work with others. Again, as you would with your job experiences and academic merits, put your most recent volunteer experiences and community involvement items at the top of your list.

One final note on the resume: put the heading for each section in boldface. So the headings “Education,” “Work Experience,” and “Community Involvement” should be typed in bold letters, just like so (but without the quotation marks).

Contact Career Planning Services

kyle-career-3-1Please, go to the Co-operative Education Centre, room 312 of the McCain, to book your one-on-one consultation with an advisor at Career Services. Do a job search, find out what’s available in your discipline of interest, create a realistic career plan that you can follow to pursue your goals! Go before your third year of university if possible. Career Services will help you get in touch with potential future employers, get your name heard, and get your foot in the door. You can e-mail Career Services at, and you can also reach them by phone at (902) 457-6139/6567. You can find out more about resume critiques, job postings, career fairs, and more on the Mount’s Career Planning Services website.  You can download their Winter schedule here.

An Introduction to the English Society at MSVU

This is the first in a series of posts by Kyle Cross that will be appearing on this blog. Kyle, a fourth-year honours student, has been hired as the English Department’s media assistant for this year. Look for more of Kyle’s posts in the coming weeks on a variety of topics, such as where to find essay help, how to write a resumé, and what are some of the best café / writing spaces around town.

An Introduction to the English Society
Kyle Cross

English Society Room Seton 555Hello MSVU English students and other members of the Mount community and beyond. Welcome to my first post! Today, I’d like to introduce you to the co-presidents of the MSVU English Society, acquaint you their designated university space (Seton 555), and tell you about some upcoming events that they are hosting.

English Society co-presidents 2016-17 Hope Tohme and Katie O'BrienPictured above are the executives of your English Society, Hope Tohme (left) and Katie O’Brien (right). They share an interest in nineteenth-century literature, including the Gothic genre. Hope is a third-year English Major. Her favourite novel is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which is alternatively titled The Modern Prometheus; in Greek mythology, Prometheus is the rebellious Titan who stole fire from Mount Olympus and then gave it to humanity, actions for which he suffered and was tormented by Zeus – yet I digress. Although Hope loves the Gothic writing of Shelley, her primary areas of interest are contemporary literature and poststructuralist literary theory.

Hope’s favourite event which the English Society hosts is the always-comical Bad Poetry Reading, where students and faculty showcase their performance skills by reading some of the worst, most embarrassing poetical compositions by recognizable and lesser-known poets alike. Keep your eyes peeled for posters and other announcements about this event, which will take place next term in January.

Katie is also a third-year English Major, and she loves the Gothic; her favourite novel is The Picture of Dorian Gray – one of my favourites from the Victorian era. Like Hope, Katie employs poststructuralist theory to analyze literary texts, especially postmodern literature. The event that she’s most looking forward to is the English Society’s End-of-Term Party, which is coming up soon! She tells me that it’s a great way to unwind and commemorate all of the hard work students have done during the term. The party will take place at Vinnie’s Pub (the campus bar) on Wednesday, December 7th, from 4:30 pm until, well, until the staff members at Vinnie’s kick us out. Because Vinnie’s hosts both dry and wet functions, all students are welcome! Come and join us on the 7th of December to celebrate the completion of the fall term in true holiday fashion.

Note:  Ugly holiday sweaters are not mandatory, but they are welcomed and encouraged.

English Society bulletin board Seton 555

Speaking of great events, the Society is also hosting a bake sale on Wednesday, November 30th from 11:00 – 1:30 on the fifth floor of the Seton Academic Centre (SAC), in the English Corner, which is between rooms 510 and 511. You will not – I repeat, you will NOT – want to miss this year’s bake sale if you love festive treats, especially if you recall what was on offer for their Halloween bake sale. The Society will be selling holiday-themed baked goods, so bring your milk and your merry self, and treat yourself to some scrumptious goodies made by the jolly executives of the English Society themselves.

English Society bulletin board and room, Seton 555For those of you who don’t know, the MSVU English Society is located on the fifth floor of the SAC, in room 555 (easy to remember!). It is a cozy room filled with lots of books to read and with chairs and settees for relaxing. For information on upcoming events in both the English Department and the academic community of Halifax, check out the English Society bulletin board.

English Society Room 555If you’re in need of some relaxation while you write that end-of-term paper, which might feel overwhelming at times, come to room 555 and enjoy a comforting, warm steeped tea from David’s Tea. Hope and Katie welcome all students to stop by for a cup of tea; their door is always open.

English Society Seton 555If you need somewhere to store those leftovers you brought to school, the English Society has got you covered! And if you need to heat up said leftovers, come on in and warm up your food before class. You’re always welcome to use the fridge and microwave in the Society room.

English Society Room, Seton 555The Society room is also a relaxed and enclosed environment in which to read and write, and it’s never crowded. Check it out for yourself and get acquainted with your peers! I guarantee that if you build social solidarity with your fellow students, your time here at the Mount will be much more enjoyable and less stressful. Establishing a sense of community in any institution will make you feel like you’re part of a family, regardless of how far you are from home. Take it from me, Kyle Cross, a fourth-year English student who came to the Mount completely alone, but who now sees familiar and friendly faces everyday.

Follow the English Society on Instagram at

and like them on Facebook:

If you have ANY questions at all about the MSVU English Society, if you’d like to get involved with the Society, or if you have any ideas for blog posts, whether in regards to the English Society or not, feel free to e-mail either me, Hope, or Katie.

Hope Tohme:

Katie O’Brien:

Me, Kyle Cross: