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English 1911-2011 | Wilfrid Laurier University

1911-2011 | Wilfrid Laurier University

English at Laurier


nglish deals with human culture as expressed through reading and writing, and through more modern media such as film. As a field of study, English tends to attract people who are fascinated with words and the power of language.

No matter how technologically evolved our society becomes, and no matter how sophisticated our means of communication, the ability to read and write critically — to think critically — will always be valued, and a degree in English will always be relevant. With 21 full-time and a smaller number of part-time faculty members, the English and Film Studies Department at Laurier offers a wide range of courses, from the study of traditional literary

offerings such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, romanticism and modernism, to women and print culture, Canadian women’s writing, creative writing, fiction by minority writers, and literature and social change. “Laurier’s English and film studies courses cover a wide range of areas, from medieval to postcolonial cultures and from traditional periods to contemporary film,” says department chair, Dr. James Weldon. “Members of our faculty are passionate about education, and they are often recognized for outstanding teaching. All are active researchers in their fields and several have written acclaimed literary works. Laurier English offers undergraduates a welcoming, encouraging and stimulating learning environment.”

About the program

Laurier offers the Honours BA in English and an Honours BA in English in combination with another honours BA program. The Honours BA in English, which normally takes four years to complete, consists of 20 full-credit courses (or the equivalent), including at least 10 but no more than 14 credits in English. The Honours BA in English in combination with another honours BA program also usually takes four years to complete and consists of 20 full-credit courses, but requires fewer credits in English. Students who choose other majors can take a minor in English, which will normally consist of one 100-level course and two senior English credits.

Natasha Rebry graduated from Laurier with an honours degree and a master’s degree in English. “I loved the professors so much,” she says. “They were just excellent.” Rebry chose to study English because she’s been an avid reader “of anything and everything” ever since she can remember, and because “I live to write.”

I loved the professors so much. They were just excellent.

Rebry’s poetry has been published and she is currently looking for a publisher for her short stories for children. She is also an active literacy volunteer, teaching reading and writing to high school students and adults.

Rebry says that as an undergraduate she enjoyed studying contemporary Canadian fiction and poetry, as well as Gothic and American literature. As a master’s student, she focused on the areas of gender and genre. Rebry is now a doctoral student at UBC Okanagan. “I’d like to pursue a career in academics,” she says. “I want to continue doing what I love: reading, writing and teaching.”

A great learning experience

The Management Option

Students enrolled in honours arts, science or music programs are eligible for the Management Option, consisting of 10 half-credit courses, six required and four electives. This option will give you fundamental training in key areas of business such as business organization, accounting, marketing, management skills, operations and the fundamentals of finance, macroeconomics and microeconomics, interpersonal communications, business law, personal finance and business management. For more information, visit

Ancient Languages Option

The Ancient Languages Option is open to all honours students who have achieved a minimum GPA of 7.0 (B-) in at least 1.0 credit in ancient languages (Greek, Latin or Semitic). Enrolment occurs in second year.

Muslim Studies Option

The Muslim Studies Option offers the opportunity to study the historical, philosophical and theological development of Islamic thought and traditions, as well as contemporary sociological, political and cultural contexts of lived Muslim experiences.

Strong reputation In the 2009 Maclean’s reputational survey, Laurier ranked in the top three in its category nationally for Best Overall, Highest Quality, Most Innovative and Overall Reputation.

Dr. Mariam Pirbhai says her South Asian background and immigrant experience led her to a career as a professor of English literature. In literature, she could see the world reflected back at her in all its variety and complexity. “But once I formally Where would the experience of transnational writers began to study literature such as Salman Rushdie or Rohinton Mistry fit into in the classroom I also courses on British or Canadian literature? started seeing a lot of cultural and historical gaps in terms of representation and identity,” she says. “Where, for example, would the experience of transnational writers such as Salman Rushdie or Rohinton Mistry fit into courses on British or Canadian literature?” Her growing interest in “the way knowledge travels with people and their historical baggage” led her to research the literatures of the South Asian and Caribbean diasporas. After slavery was abolished, plantation economies across the world depended on indentured labourers recruited mainly from the Indian subcontinent to perform the work previously done by slaves. “I look at the writing by the descendents of those labourers,” Pirbhai says. “In the stories of these early world travellers, we are able to see the wonderful ‘upsidedownness of the world as it unfolds,’ to borrow from the title of a story by Trinidadian writer Shani Mootoo.”

Sample courses offered Restoration and 18th-Century Literature The British Novel in the 19th Century Advanced Literary and Cultural Theory Contemporary Drama Canadian Women’s Writing Origins of Modern Drama Rhetoric in Literary and Non-Literary Texts Critical Theory of Mass Media Canadian Drama in English Cyborg Fictions Narratives of Empire Literature of the 16th Century Writers of the Middle Ages Chaucer I: The Canterbury Tales Creative Writing: Short Story

Your career starts here

Co-op at Laurier

Honours arts students in co-op complete two work terms of at least 10 weeks each, usually in the summers following their second and third years. Participants receive training in job search techniques and assistance in finding employment related to their studies or career goals.

Why should you consider co-op? Put theory into action Apply your technical skills Clarify your career goals Develop marketable skills Gain valuable contacts

Recent employers of English co-op students include: • Barrick Gold, Toronto • Doon Heritage Village at the Waterloo Region Museum, Kitchener • Literacy Group of Waterloo Region, Waterloo • Sybase Canada, Waterloo

A university degree in any discipline will open doors for you. No matter what you study, your degree confirms that you know how to think critically, communicate effectively, and have the ability to analyze a wealth of material and extract what you need from it. These skills, valued by many employers, are ones we cultivate in English. Graduates of Laurier’s English program can be found teaching in classrooms across the country. They work as technical writers in high-tech firms. They are in external affairs, advertising, publishing, journalism and business. Some students decide to continue their studies in English after graduation. Laurier’s MA program in English allows students to concentrate in gender and genre studies, and the joint PhD program in Literary Studies/Theatre Studies in English with the University of Guelph

offers specializations in the areas of Canadian, early modern, postcolonial, 19th-century, and gender and genre.

Support for grads

At Laurier, support for our students doesn’t end when we hand them their degree. Our Career Development Centre continues to offer career decision-making, career management and job search services to all our alumni for a lifetime. Alumni are also encouraged to attend workshops and programs offered through the centre, including the largest career fairs and job fairs of their kind in the country, which Laurier co-sponsors.

Recent career examples • • • • • •

Campaign Director, Ketchum Canada Inc. Communications Manager, Storybook Theatre Language Assessor, YMCA of K-W Online Reporter, The Globe and Mail Reference Librarian, UWO English Professor, McMaster University

Admission information For the most up-to-date information about admission to Laurier, go to

75 University Avenue West | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3C5 Tel: (519) 884-0710 ext. 3385 | Fax: (519) 747-2106 | Email: |

10 0 Y E A R S I NSPI R I NG L I V E S OF LE A DE R SH I P A N D PU R P O SE While every effort has been made to ensure this publication is accurate at time of printing, the information contained herein is subject to change without notice.


• • • • •

What do you do with a degree in English?


1911-2011 | Wilfrid Laurier University 1911-2011 | Wilfrid Laurier University

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