Halifax Poet Laureate Rebecca Thomas at the Mount

Halifax Poet Laureate
Rebecca Thomas

Public Performance

Halifax Poet Laureate Rebecca Thomas

photo credit Javian Trotman

Wednesday, February 8, 2017, noon
MSVU Faculty Lounge Seton 404-405

Hosted by the Departments of English, History, Sociology and Anthropology, Women’s Studies,  and the Cultural Studies programme

Everyone welcome!

Places to Write: Cabin Coffee

Essay-writing season is here, and if you’re looking for a place to write with just the right ambiance, our media assistant Kyle Cross has some suggestions for you. This is the first in Kyle’s series “Places to Write” in which he reviews local cafés. (We note that Kyle has no family or financial connections with the cafés he will be reviewing). If you’d like to suggest your own favorite places to write, let us know in the comments.


Places to Write: Cabin Coffee
by Kyle Cross

Places to Write: Cabin Coffee

Just as the cafe’s logo suggests, Cabin Coffee makes you feel like you’re situated in a log cottage outside of civilization, completely removed from society, surrounded by powdery snow in the middle of January. However, it is, in fact, located in the heart of downtown Halifax at 1554 Hollis Street, across from Salter’s Gate Apartments. In many ways, it is an embodiment of the fusion of rustic and urban lifestyles, an embodiment that speaks to the city of Halifax itself: not so metropolitan as Toronto, not so rural as Summerville.

Places to Write: Cabin Coffee 2

In my introductory blog in this series, I suggest that readers and writers alike might want a warm and humble nook in which to write – somewhere they feel at home, without all the distractions, of course. Well, if you’re looking to get away from people and feel like you’re on the outskirts of town without leaving town, plant yourself in one of Cabin Coffee’s comfy, brown leather chairs; they will envelop you in love while you read, write, and drink copious amounts of coffee. As you can see, the log-constructed back wall shuts out the bustling downtown core, allowing you to focus intently on the work that sits in front of you, possibly taunting you saying, “You won’t have finished me by the time you leave this cabin.” If you take advantage of the stained wood to help block out the world, though, you will, indeed, tackle that work like a Japanese sumo wrestler.

My vegan and vegetarian friends, rejoice! The ‘moose’ on the sidewall of the Cabin is, in fact, fake; it is merely a decoration that adds to the whole rustic-like atmosphere of the cafe. This place gets cozier and cozier with every picture: a fireplace in the downtown core! Although the fireplace, too, is not real, as you focus on that seemingly overwhelming assignment, you will feel the imaginary fire sparking your ever-so-creative imagination – that is, if the coffee doesn’t do it for you. The fireplace will relax you as you write, and write, and write; it will settle your nerves while the coffee sets your mind ablaze.

Yes, that is a classic Coleman lantern pictured above. Like the fireplace, the lantern can be seen as another motif for the crackling imagination. What’s more, it adds to the feeling that you are sitting in not so much a downtown coffee shop as a cottage in, say, Summerville, Nova Scotia. Let the lantern guide you from the gauzy, wooded narrow path into the vast open field of your written work. You needn’t worry: the coffee will help you get to your destination.

Places to Write: Cabin Coffee 4

Although these red and green balloon animals seem festive enough to be in a National Lampoon movie, they do not merely ring in the holidays; they are representative of Cabin Coffee’s new beverage, their Picante Mocha, which is on for a limited time only. If this doesn’t fire up your imagination, you must be Jack Frost. And I must say that I was skeptical at first, but once I sipped the mocha a few times, I was hooked. The slight spice accentuated the chocolaty mocha quite nicely. If you plan on visiting Cabin Coffee, though, you must try their Costa Rican blend; it is a toasty medium roast that will inevitably set fire to your creative superpowers.

I highly recommend going to Cabin Coffee, whether it’s to write, read, study, or just sit and chat with your friends next to the fireplace. Opening hours are 6:30 am to 6:00 pm Monday to Friday; 7:30 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday; and 8:30 am to 5:00 pm on Sunday. Go experience being nestled in a cozy cottage in the middle of downtown Halifax.

Bad Poetry Reading 2017

Bad poetry reading 2017

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

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.



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 careerplanning@msvu.ca, 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.

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!

Tenure-Track Position in Writing Studies

English Course Guide

Our department is pleased to announce that we are looking for someone with a PhD in Writing Studies, Rhetoric, or Creative Writing to take up a tenure-track position starting in July 2017. We’ll begin considering applications on January 16, so we encourage all qualified candidates to apply, including Indigenous persons, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, women, and persons of any sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. You’ll find details in the official university job ad [pdf] or on the Mount Saint Vincent University list of full-time academic positions. Our Collective Agreement can be viewed on the Faculty Association homepage .

We invite you to explore our English Department website and this blog, which we hope will give you some insight into the activities of both faculty and students in our collegial department.

English Department seminar

an English Department seminar

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 https://www.instagram.com/msvu_englishsociety/

and like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/msvuenglishsociety/?fref=ts

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: amal.tohme@msvu.ca

Katie O’Brien: katelyn.obrien2@msvu.ca

Me, Kyle Cross: kyle.cross@msvu.ca

English Department research on display at Research Remixed

Research Remixed 2016The Mount’s annual research day will be held on Tuesday, November 15th in the Rosaria Multipurpose Room from 9:15 to 2:30. The day features short talks, posters, and booths displaying the research of Mount faculty and students across numerous disciplines. Everyone is invited to drop in, have some refreshments, and survey some of the work that goes on in our university.

A couple of English faculty and a former student will be participating. At 12:45, you can listen to Dr. Diane Piccitto‘s talk on “Reconsidering Heroism in William Blake’s Epic Poem, Milton.”  Dr. Anna Smol and Rebecca Power (B.A.Hons 2015) will be presenting a poster on “Adaptation as Analysis: Creative Work in a Literature Course,” which is based on their forthcoming essays in the book, Fandom in the Classroom (U of Iowa Press). The poster features some of the creative work done by students in ENGL 4475, Studies in Medievalism: Tolkien and Myth-making. (Poster presentations run from 9:45 – 10:55 and 1:15 to 2:30).

The event begins at 9:15 with an opening and drumming by the Mount’s Nancy’s Chair, Catherine Martin. You can find the complete schedule here: research-remixed-schedule-2016 [pdf]

Jenny Davison. Sculpture of Doors of Durin. ENGL 4475 projectTake a look at the research that led to Jenny Davison’s sculpture of the Doors of Durin, from Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring. One of several projects featured in the poster by A. Smol and R. Power. Image copyright Jenny Davison 2013.

A Dramatic Reading: The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being EarnestThe English Department is hosting a dramatic reading of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

Wednesday, November 16
4:30 p.m.
Seton 404

All are welcome to attend or to participate (contact Dr. Diane Piccitto if you’d like to be assigned a part).