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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
December 19, 2014
Canadian Excellence

PhD Student Profiles


Anders Bergstrom

After finishing his BA Honours at the University of Saskatchewan and his MA at the University of Victoria, Anders Bergstrom spent two years in Thailand teaching at Lanna International School and exploring South East Asia, all the while plotting a return to academia to further his life-long obsession with cinema. Anders’ interest in cinema’s connection to philosophy and religion led to his being invited to write the introduction to the second volume of Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema. His essay on the role of memory in the films Inception and 2046 is forthcoming in The Memory Effect: The Remediation of Memory in Literature and Film. His current work is on art cinema and transnational cinema in relation to the understanding of subjectivity and modernity. He lives in Waterloo with his wife and one year-old son.

Dissertation Title: Subjectivity and Modernity in Transnational Art Cinema

Supervisor: Dr. Russell J. A. Kilbourn

Anton E. Bergstrom

Anton is currently in his third year of the PhD program in English. His research area is early modern poetry and prose, and his dissertation will focus on John Donne’s religious writings, addressing how tradition can be reanimated. Despite his scholarly predilection for works written hundreds of years ago, Anton strives to balance the contemplative life with the active. He follows the latest in politics, religion, and the arts, especially film.

He completed his MA at Queen’s University, and his BA at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, where he grew up. He currently resides in Toronto.

Dissertation Title: Resurrecting the Word: Defamiliarization in John Donne’s Religious Writings.

Supervisor: Dr. Anne Russell



Maggie Clark

Maggie Clark is a second-year doctoral student who finished her MA at Laurier after completing a BA in Political Science and English Literature at the University of Waterloo. Her research interests include 19th century literature and the history of science. She's published works of science fiction and poetry, and ever struggles to balance writing therein with the demands of the PhD. With a bit of luck and a very understanding committee, she hopes to create the critical foundation for career-track academic volumes, lay texts on scientific history, and a more substantial body of fiction in the years to come.

Dissertation Title (tentative): Transitional Forms: Modes of Geological Storytelling in Victorian Non-Fiction

Supervisor: Dr. Lynn Shakinovsky

Susan Hroncek

Susan Hroncek, a fourth-year PhD candidate, has an Honours BA in English Language and Literature and MA in English (Text/Community/Discourse) from Brock University. Her research focuses on depictions of scientists in Victorian popular fiction, with a special interest in the professionalization of science, Victorian discourse of the nature of genius, and the influence of alchemy and the occult. Her other areas of interest include Gothic and speculative fiction, children's literature, and pedagogy. In rare periods of spare time, she engages in creative writing and graphic design.

Dissertation Title: Scientists, Alchemy, and the Victorian Literary Imagination

Supervisor: Dr. Lynn Shakinovsky



Emily Jones

Emily Jones is currently a doctoral student at Wilfrid Laurier University, with a focus in Canadian literature. She completed her Master's degree at the University of Western Ontario in 2013 after finishing her BA at Wilfrid Laurier University. She worked with D.M.R Bentley from 2012 to 2013 on the Canadian Poetry Project at Western University. Emily's research interests include contemporary Canadian women's poetry with an emphasis on ecocritical analysis. Through the course of her doctoral studies, she hopes to reveal how the relationship between natural and city spaces can combine in a positive, if controversial, way. Emily enjoys teaching, listening to music, singing, painting, photography, and writing poetry. She currently resides in Kitchener, Ontario with her husband, Mark, and her kitten, Willow.

Victoria Kennedy

I am currently preparing for my Comprehensive Area Exam in gender theory and women’s writing. In 2014, I will specialize even further, focusing on twentieth century “middlebrow” novels in preparation for my dissertation, which focuses on prolific author Daphne du Maurier (author of the acclaimed 1938 novel Rebecca). My fascination with du Maurier is tied to my interest in popular works, which—while sometimes critically lampooned—are intriguing sites of accessible politics. My interest in popular texts is visible in most of my current scholarship. I have recently presented papers on The Hunger Games trilogy and Mad Men.

Dissertation Title (tentative): "Daphne du Maurier and the Middlebrow"

Supervisor: Dr. Andrea Austin



Shannon Maguire

Shannon Maguire is a second-year PhD student. Her research interests include radical poetics, Canadian modernist women writers, North American Indigenous literatures, queer theory, new materialist feminisms, and science fiction studies. She holds a BA (combined Hons.) in English and Drama Studies from Glendon College, York University; an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph; and an MA in English (Text/Community/Discourse) from Brock University. Besides being an emerging scholar, she is also an emerging writer. Her first full-length collection of poetry, fur(l) parachute (BookThug), was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry and a selection from it was a finalist for the Manitoba Magazine Awards in 2012. She is also the author of three chapbooks: A Web Of Holes (above/ground), Fruit Machine (Ferno House), and Vowel Wolves & Other Knots (above/ground), as well as several short plays. She’s currently at work on a sound-based poetry collaboration with Lesley Belleau as well as her first science fiction novel. In her spare time, she is the co-founder and co-curator of the Toronto-based experimental reading and performance series AvantGarden.

Dissertation Title (tentative): Parasite Poetics: Noise in the Canadian Lesbian Long Poem, 1965-2011

Supervisor: Dr. Tanis MacDonald

Claire Meldrum

Claire is currently in her first year of her PhD in English at WLU.  Since 2010, she has taught film and literature courses including film history, genre, media and culture and Canadian literature at Sheridan College in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.  She completed her BFA in Film and Video Production at York University and her Masters in Comparative Literature and Arts  from Brock University.  Her academic interests include adaptation, genre, particularly detective fiction and children’s literature, and film history.  She loves being in a classroom, and has completed her certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (although, between you, me and the lamppost, she could probably live without having to correct grammar; she’s not a big fan of semi-colons.)
When she is not reading, thinking about reading or telling herself she really ought to be reading, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their two boys in Hamilton, ON.



Mike McCleary

During my BA at Thomson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC, I was lucky enough to find a course focused on film adaptation and the graphic novel: from American Splendor to From Hell.  Since that course, I’ve studied texts from multiple national canons and texts from multiple mediums through the lens of adaptation, and it has led me to explore a diverse and rich collection of texts, subjects and theoretical concerns. WLU has provided me the opportunity to take an intermedial approach to film studies and with the guidance and support of Dr. Russell Kilbourn and the other faculty, I’ve found a perfect environment to complete my studies.  . . . I’m an avid fisherman and outdoorsman, a big baseball/football fan, I pitched for Thompson Rivers University in the Canadian Collegiate baseball league and an avid media consumer.

Dissertation Title: Proposing a Theory of Adaptive Genre: Subversive Adaptations, Socio-Political Protest and Artistic Terrorism in Contemporary Film Adaptation

Supervisor: Dr. Russell Kilbourn

Murrielle G. Michaud

Murielle completed her BA (Hons.) in Religious Studies and Classical Studies at the University of Western Ontario, as well as an MA in Religion and Culture and an MA in English at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research interests include hagiography; religious asceticism; religious literature; medieval representations of gender in secular and religious texts; medieval philosophy; theology; representations of gender in film. Her personal interests include film, wildlife rehabilitation, farming, and cake. She lives with two unruly dogs. 

Dissertation Title (tentative): Subversive Acts, Subversive Words: The Three Women of Liége and the Bodleian Library MS Douce 114

Supervisor: Dr. Robin Waugh



Alexis Motuz

Alexis Motuz completed a BASc in the Arts&Science program at McMaster University with a combined honours in Comparative Literature and completed her MA in English at Laurier. She is now in her second year of the PhD program and aims to be a professor. She has published “Before Speech: An Interrogation of Trauma in Chang-rae Lee's A Gesture Life” in the Canadian Review of American Studies (forthcoming) and has a contract with Oxford UP to publish “‘I have nothing soothing to tell you’: Dionne Brand’s Inventory as Global Elegy” in Canadian Literature and Cultural Memory (Eds. Eleanor Ty and Cynthia Sugars). Outside of academia, she enjoys playing outside with her two children, camping, and growing a vegetable garden. She also works part-time at Laurier’s Writing Centre.

Dissertation Title: "ReGrounding Ethics in Poetics: Envisioning an Ecological Future through Canadian Women’s Literature"

Supervisor: Dr. Tanis MacDonald

Katherine Quanz

Katherine Quanz is currently researching the impact of technology and policy on the soundtracks of Canadian science fiction and horror films. For this project Quanz draws upon her experience as an assistant sound editor at Tattersall Sound and Picture in Toronto. This research was funded by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Her other research area is Canadian Aboriginal Experimental Film and Video for which she was awarded the 2009 Gerald Pratley Award. When not working on her dissertation Quanz enjoys playing with her cat, Dolby, making hand-processed films, running, and playing her Theremin badly.

Dissertation Title: Canadian Soundscapes: Technology and Sound in Canadian Science Fiction and Horror from 1968-2012

Supervisor: Dr. Katherine Spring



Sarah Rangaratnam

Sarah has come to Wilfrid Laurier with a BA in Translation from York and an MA in Comparative Literature from Brock. She is currently balancing graduate studies and family life, with Children’s Literature for her comprehensive area of studies, and two young daughters providing much of the inspiration for her research. Her doctoral dissertation will explore the dialogue and narrative voice of girl-characters in some of the earliest children’s literature of the eighteenth century.

Dissertation Title: Girls’ Voices in Eighteenth-Century Children’s Literature

Supervisor: Dr. Eleanor Ty

J. Coplen Rose

My research interests include postcolonial studies, South African drama, African literature, nationalism, and humour studies. Focusing on nationalism and humour in contemporary South African drama, my dissertation analyzes class, race, and gender divisions in the nation-state. This project has been strongly influenced by my experiences researching and travelling in South Africa, first in 2004 and again in 2012. In addition to studying at Wilfrid Laurier University, I have also attended classes at Bishop’s University, Lakehead University, University of Guelph, Ryerson University, and Rhodes University. I enjoy teaching, creative writing, woodworking, and mountaineering.

Dissertation Title: Working Through the Shortfalls of the Nation-State: Dramatic Humour in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Advisor: Dr. Mariam Pirbhai



Devin Ruelland

Devin is a first-year PhD student who has come to Laurier after receiving an Honours BA at Cape Breton University and a Masters from Dalhousie University. Although film classes were few and far between during these English degrees, Devin tried his best to write about film in every course he took, which eventually led him to the study of film adaptation – the best of both worlds. His main interests lie in the effects that surrounding sociocultural elements can have on a film's adaptation of its source, including a particular concentration on genre studies. With this in mind, Devin’s current plan is to study the New Hollywood era, and he is hoping to explore the various ways in which classical film genres were challenged, subverted, and re-purposed by directors in order to make comments on cultural concerns in the US during the late 1960's and 1970's.

Ada Sharpe

Ada is currently writing her dissertation on representations of female accomplishment and the decorative arts in British women’s writing of the Romantic period. Her SSHRC-funded research draws on a number of popular print forms emerging in Romantic Britain between 1780 and 1835, including the novel, verse collection, and gift book, and seeks to elucidate the ways in which literary representations of female accomplishment (such as drawing, painting, and embroidery) provide a familiar frame of reference through which women writers negotiate the intersecting issues of gender, education, aesthetics, and work.

She has published articles and book reviews on British women writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in European Romantic Review, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, and the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada and, in a different field of scholarly interest, on gender and the Hollywood medical thriller in Literature/Film Quarterly. She has been awarded a SSHRC Postdoctoral grant for September 2014 to work on “The Miniature Domain: Place-Making and the Amateur Arts in British Women's Writing, 1790-1825” at Harvard University.  Her supervisor will be Dr. Deirdre Lynch.

Dissertation Title (tentative): "Polish or Work? Romantic Women’s Writing and the Discourses of Female Accomplishment"

Supervisor: Eleanor Ty



Justin Shaw

Justin Shaw is a fifth year PhD student who is currently in the middle of writing his dissertation, “‘Falling Men’ in Post-9/11 American Fiction.” His dissertation explores how certain writers critique hegemonic masculinity in post-9/11 American culture by staging interpersonal relationships and the antagonistic gender practices therein as a domestic analogue for the nation’s oppressive foreign policies. Recently, his article “Destabilizing Sexistentialism in Norman Mailer’s An American Dream” was accepted for publication in the Canadian Review of American Studies. Also, he will be presenting “Self-Mad(e) Men: Crises of Hegemonic Masculinity in Mad Men” at the Popular Culture Association of Canada conference in May. Finally, at Congress 2013 he will be presenting “Challenging Neoliberalism and the Postfeminist American Dream in Amy Waldman’s The Submission” at the ACCUTE conference, and “‘Building Breasts in the Sand’: Postwar Existential Alienation and Masculine Crisis in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master” at the FSAC conference.

Dissertation Title: "‘Falling Men’ in Post-9/11 American Fiction."

Supervisor: Dr Tamas Dobozy

Brooke Southgate

Brooke Southgate is a recent transplant to Canada. She completed her BA in English Language and Literature with a double major in Religious Studies at the University of South Carolina where she also competed with the varsity equestrian team her freshman year. She went on for her MFA in Creative Writing-Fiction at the University of New Orleans where she focused on contemporary short stories. Following graduation, she taught as an English Instructor at a community college in Louisiana for three years. Attempting to escape the heat and hurricane season, she came to Laurier to pursue studies in 20th Century American science fiction. Her main research focus is a multidisciplinary approach to ecocriticism and how environmental issues are presented in science fiction, though she also enjoys researching representations of religious minorities in literature as a hold over from her Religious Studies background. She also likes dinosaurs.



Jason Swiderski

Before attending Wilfrid Laurier Jason received his BA (Hons) and MA in Film Studies from the University of Western Ontario where he completed his master’s thesis on the allegorical role of anarchism in post-millennial Hollywood. His research interests include film aesthetics, the horror genre, and New Hollywood cinema. He is currently working on his doctoral dissertation which undertakes a neoformalist approach to the films of Brian De Palma.

Dissertation Title:Articulating a Medium: De Palma and the Dichotomy of Post-Classical Aesthetics

Supervisor: Dr. Philippa Gates