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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
October 4, 2015
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 Bergstrom

Anton is currently in his fourth year of the PhD program in English and specializes in early modern poetry, poetics, and religious literature. Focusing on the works of John Donne, his dissertation explores the interrelations between literary devices of estrangement, the discourses on strangeness and discovery, and post-Reformation conceptions of the human condition in relation to God.

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: John Donne and the Poetics of Estrangement in Early Modern Religious Literature

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. Jennifer Esmail


Andrew Falcao

Before attending Laurier, Andrew received his BSc from the University of Waterloo, specializing in Earth Sciences. He later received his Film Studies MA from the University of Western Ontario, with his thesis "Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom: Modernist Moods in West Side Story". His research interests include the Hollywood musical, modernity and modernism, and the intermediality between cinema and fine art. In his spare time, he frequents the Princess Cinemas, paints and religiously follows Oscar blogs. (This is probably why he's a two-time winner of the Princess's Oscar contest.) He currently resides in Kitchener with his partner Dave and two guinea pigs, Marshmallow and Truffles.


Susan Hroncek

Susan Hroncek, a fifth-year PhD candidate, obtained an Honours BA in English Language and Literature and an MA in English (Text/Community/Discourse) from Brock University before coming to Laurier. In her dissertation, she examines depictions of chemistry in Victorian literature, with a special interest in the occult revival, the professionalization of science, and historiography. Her other areas of interest include popular fiction, young adult literature, creative writing, and graphic design.

Dissertation Title: Indefinite Composition: Chemistry and the Occult in Victorian Popular Fiction

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

Victoria completed her BA in English & Film Studies at Laurier and her MA in English at York University before returning to Laurier as a doctoral student. She specializes in women’s writing and gender theory, and is currently researching contemporary historical fiction by women for her SSHRC-funded dissertation project. Her research examines how contemporary women writers like Philippa Gregory, Sarah Waters, and Margaret George engage in feminist revisionist historiography in their popular historical novels.

Dissertation Title (tentative): Women’s Histories, Women’s Stories: Strategies of Contemporary Women Writers of Historical Fiction

Supervisor: Dr. Andrea Austin


Shannon Maguire

Shannon Maguire is in her third year of doctoral study. Her research interests include radical poetics, North American Indigenous literatures, queer theory, new materialist feminisms, contemporary women and genderqueer writers, 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. Her article, “A Catalogue of Failures: Error and Processual Utopia in Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook,” appeared in Doris Lessing Studies, 31, vol. 1 & 2, Fall/Winter 2013/2014. Shannon's first full-length collection of poetry, fur(l) parachute (BookThug), was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry and the Golden Crown Award for Lesbian Poetry. Her second collection, Myrmurs, is forthcoming from BookThug in 2015. She is also the author of three chapbooks: Fruit Machine (Ferno House) – a finalist for the bpNichol Chapbook Award; A Web Of Holes (above/ground); and Vowel Wolves & Other Knots (above/ground). Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals. Shannon is the co-founder and co-curator of the Toronto-based AvantGarden Reading Series.

Dissertation Title (tentative): Frontiers of Noise: Queer and Métis Unsettlements in Contemporary Canadian Poetry

Supervisor: Dr. Tanis MacDonald


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


Claire Meldrum

Claire is currently in her second year of her PhD in English at WLU. Since 2010, she has taught film and literature courses 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.

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.

Dissertation title (tentative): Professor Plum in the Library with the Candlestick: Material Culture and Victorian Domestic Ideology in the 19th Century Detective Fiction of Anna Katharine Green

Supervisor: Dr. Ken Paradis


Murrielle Michaud

Murrielle completed her BA (Hons.) in Religious Studies and Classical Studies at the University of Western Ontario. After coming to Laurier, she earned an MA in Religion and Culture, followed by an MA in English. Currently a doctoral candidate researching medieval hagiographies of female saints, her academic interests revolve around religious texts, women's spiritual asceticism, representations of gender in literature and film, medieval romance, medieval philosophy, and theology. Additionally, Murrielle is dedicated to teaching, tutoring, and academically empowering students through various classes, workshops, and consultations. In her personal life, she has a passion for film, wildlife rescue/rehabilitation, farming, and cake. She lives with two unruly dogs.

Dissertation Title (tentative): Subversive Acts, Subversive Words: The Three Women of Liège 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


Heather Olaveson

After completing Master's degrees in Music Composition and English at the University of Victoria and Wilfrid Laurier University, Heather Olaveson took a little time off from academia. Now she is happy to be back at her alma mater, refreshed and ready to tackle the first year of her PhD (and apparently confirming her status as a "career student" to friends and family). Her research interests include Canadian literature, historiography, and gender studies, and her dissertation will focus on Canadian poetry from 1970 to the present that rewrites or re-imagines the lives of historical figures. Other interests include non-academic reading (yes, more reading), art and music, teaching, experimenting in the kitchen, and desperately trying not to kill her lovely nematanthus or "goldfish plant." She currently lives in Kitchener and does part-time work as a piano teacher and music director.Dissertation Title (tentative): Rewriting Her/Histories: Gender and Historiography in Contemporary Canadian Biographical Poetry.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 Ills 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.


Brooke Southgate

Brooke Southgate is a 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 and her MFA in Creative Writing-Fiction at the University of New Orleans where she focused on contemporary short stories. She came to Laurier to pursue studies in science fiction literature and film featuring dinosaurs. With a strong focus on popular literature and culture, she applies ecocritical theory and genre theory to texts ranging from Doyle's The Lost World to the up-coming Jurassic World film. Her research has also included contemporary Gothic fiction, vampire fiction, monster theory, and superheroes in comics and film. From Cthulhu to Spinosaurus, if it's big and green, she's interested in it.

Advisor: Dr. Andrea Austin


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