Category Archives: Susan Drain

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


Two English faculty honoured at Convocation

David Wilson receiving teaching award, Convocation 2017

David Wilson received the MSVU Alumnae Part-time Teaching Award

Congratulations to David Wilson, who received the MSVU Alumnae Part-time Teaching Award at Convocation in May. An instructor in both our English and Writing programs, he was commended for his engaging style and for his innovative online courses. You can see one of the videos he developed for his online ENGL 1171 course here.


Susan Drain Convocation 2017

Dr. Susan Drain was awarded the rank of Professor Emerita at Convocation

At the same Convocation, Dr. Susan Drain, who retired last December, was awarded the rank of Professor Emerita. Dr. Drain has served in many positions in her career, such as the English Department Writing Co-ordinator, Department Chair, Secretary of Senate, Faculty Association executive — to name only a few. She is also a multiple teaching award winner, including the prestigious 3M Teaching Fellowship (the only Mount faculty to hold that distinction). Her current research project is Percy’s War, a daily blog about the experiences of a Canadian gunner in WWI.

Congratulations to both David and Susan!

Photos from the Mount Flickr album

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.

Farewell gathering for Dr. Susan Drain

Dr. Susan Drain

The English Department invites the Mount community to a farewell gathering for Dr. Susan Drain. Susan will give a short presentation, “The Great War Writ Small: the soldier, the scholar and the wordpress,” on editing and publishing the papers of Percy Theobald, a gunner in WWI. She notes that this project brings together everything she has learned in her eclectic academic career.

Thursday, December 15
3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
McCain 105

You can find Dr. Drain’s blog, Percy’s War, here.

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!

What connects these things?

  • Canadian soldiers on leave in London in World War I
  • A theatre built to celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in April 1616
  • An English soft drink called Kia Ora
  • The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  •  A research project in the English Department

Give up? You’d need to know that Canadian soldiers on leave in London in World War I often took refuge from the dangerous and dark streets of London in rest centres run by the YMCA. One of those centres was the “Shakespeare Hut,” originally  intended to stage  Shakespeare plays in honour of his tercentenary, but turned over to the YMCA as part of the war effort. The site is now occupied by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which has given the Shakespeare hut a virtual resurrection on its anniversary.

Kia Ora, a fruit squash to be diluted with water as a soft drink,  doesn’t really have anything to do with the others, except that it takes its name from the Maori greeting whose words were emblazoned above the fireplace in the lounge of the Shakespeare Hut. Most of the servicemen who visited it were from New Zealand and Australia.



And the research project? That would be Susan Drain’s blog Percy’s War, the on-line publication in real-time-plus-a-hundred-years of an archive of World War One materials relating to the service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force of Gunner Percy Theobald.

It has been over eight months — and some two hundpercy-military-portraitred blog entries — since Percy enlisted in Toronto. Last month he sailed from Halifax to Britain, miserably seasick most of the way, in a convoy that zigzagged to avoid German uboats. Now in the artillery training camp on Witley Common, Surrey, he and his pals are expecting to see active service in France before year’s end. In France, meanwhile, the Battle of the Somme has been grinding on since the massacres of July 1st, though the Allied Forces are beginning to make some headway.

Before their training resumes at Witley Camp, the newly arrived soldiers were entitled to six days’ leave — and find themselves in the Shakespeare Hut, about to see the wonders of the Imperial capital.

Sign up to follow the day-to-day experience of Percy’s War. More than a faded military archive, there is something for everyone from shrapnel to sentiment — yes, there’s a romance. It brings together photographs and drawings, artillery lessons and horsemanship instructions, contemporary reports and documents, historical analysis, fiction and poetry. Each day’s brief instalment is different and often surprising. Shakespeare and Kia Ora? Oh, yes, October 6, 1916.

For more information, contact or leave a comment on the blog.











Professorial Paws

Paws poster
You are invited to attend the Halifax launch of Professorial Paws: Dogs in Scholars’ Lives and Work, edited by Ardra Cole and Sharon Sbrocchi. The book’s title accurately describes the focus of the collection, but gives no indication of the range of work included, from visual art, through memoir and poetry to graphic narrative.

Also included are several entries from Susan Drain’s writing blog, Trouble(on)Writing, which she began for the Mount’s Writing Centre, and which features her Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Can.Ch.Yellowrose’s Ms Trouble at Kare, CD, WD.

The book is published by Backalong Press, Halifax, and is the second in Ardra’s Animal-Human Bond Series. Proceeds from the sale of these books go to support the work of ElderDog Canada, a national, community-based, non-profit organization that supports elderly dogs and elderly dog-people, and educates the general community about the importance of the animal-human bond, especially for seniors.

A decided harrumph

Harrumph, says Trouble

All are welcome. Except dogs, unfortunately.



One hundred years ago today .. and tomorrow … and the next day

percys war crop

Dr. Susan Drain announces the launch of her sabbatical project, the editing and online publication of an archive of primary materials relating to the World War I Canadian Artillery soldier, Percy Theobald.

The archive consists of diaries, letters, photographs, documents and ephemera, and is being published in real time plus one hundred years. Thus the first formal post was January 31, 2016, the hundredth anniversary of Theobald’s enlistment.

This chronicle of the boredom of military training and the horror of active service is liberally seasoned with romance and poetry — something for everyone!

Sign up to follow the project at



Congratulations to graduating students!’s Fall Convocation at the Mount this Sunday, November 1st.  Congratulations to the students who will be graduating with a B.A in English:

Stephanie Carr    and    Alysha Wellon

The honorary degree recipient for the B.A. convocation will be Catherine Banks, an award-winning Nova Scotian playwright who has visited our university several times in recent years. You can find more information about Catherine Banks on the Mount website.

Dr. Reina Green will present Catherine Banks for the honorary degree. This will also be the last convocation in which Dr. Susan Drain will be the mace bearer, one of her duties as the Secretary of Senate.

Susan Drain mace bearer

The next generation of English students?

Thrive kidsAlum Wendy Birt brought her Thrivers to visit the Mount on Tuesday March 10th. Thr!ve Education is Wendy’s after-school enrichment program for young learners, and this is not the first encounter we’ve had with them.


Gatty letter cropOn this visit, they saw some of the things a professor does besides teach: hang out in an office full of books, update the English website, do research in primary sources — they handled a manuscript letter from 1882 and tried to read the cursive writing. They also got a chance to try to decipher on microfilm a letter in which Margaret Gatty describes the writing of her first children’s book The Fairy Godmothers.

And that was only one stop in their visit. We hope to see them back full-time in a few years!