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Degree delights

Who We Are, What We Do: Department of English

Student Life

By Janet Harron

It’s the flexibility of Memorial’s English department that appealed to recent graduate Jordan Steinhauer.

With a passion for theatre, performance and film, the St. John’s native originally combined her communication studies major with a business minor.

‘A better fit’

“The rigid structure of the Faculty of Business Administration did not suit me,” she said. “After learning about the large number of film studies courses offered through the English department, I decided that was a better fit for me.”

Four years later, she is delighted with her degree decision (a double major in English and communications studies, a diploma in performance and communications media) and is headed to Ottawa in September to complete a master’s in journalism at Carleton University.

Ms. Steinhauer is featured in the latest series of teaser videos from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The video, Who We Are, What We Do: Communications Studies Program, also features associate professor Dr. Jamie Skidmore, who serves as the undergraduate advisor for the communication studies program and the co-ordinator for the diploma in performance and communications media.

Harlow program

As a student Dr. Skidmore’s focus was on theatre, which he says combines English and history studies. His current research interests include Newfoundland and Labrador theatre, circus, film and theatre design. He is also an active member of the provincial theatre community and a video producer/director for local bands, including Pilot to Bombardier. Among his recent extracurricular projects is Don’t Kill the River, a protest song and video about Muskrat Falls by the Jacinta Beals Band.

This fall Dr. Skidmore and anthropologist Dr. Andrea Procter will take a group of students to Memorial’s Harlow campus for Theatre, Film and Society, a program featuring a mixture of anthropology and English courses and opportunities for students to experiment with digital media and attend multiple theatrical performances.

Ms. Steinhauer participated in a previous Harlow program with Dr. Don Nichol and director/writer Mary Walsh, an experience she says was “was one of the most rewarding experiences” of her life.

“During my time in Harlow I learned so many things that I would never have been able to gain from studying in a classroom.” –Jordan Steinhauer

“Not only was I able to learn from two incredibly smart and passionate people, but also I got to travel throughout Europe,” she said. “During my time in Harlow I learned so many things that I would never have been able to gain from studying in a classroom.”

Communications Studies Program

The English department now houses the communication studies program, a move that makes sense to Dr. Skidmore and to Dr. Jennifer Lokash, English department head.

“We already had a successful diploma program that overlaps with the communication studies major and we have a number of faculty members interested in becoming more involved with the program and seeing it grow,” said Dr. Lokash, who appears in Who We Are, What We Do: Department of English with undergraduate student Esther Eagleson.

For Dr. Lokash, learning how to read poetry was what drew her to the study English.

“I found great joy and flow in working with difficult forms and the challenge of cracking open a poem’s secret world.”

She believes the department’s various options for studying creative writing, visual narrative and literary history are major strengths and is excited about adding new interdisciplinary courses to the department’s offerings, such as The Western, taught by Dr. Joel Deshaye, The Middle Ages and the Movies, taught by Dr. John Geck, and Angry Young Adaptation, which will be offered for the first time by Dr. Bradley Clissold next year.

Another strength of the department is its annual SPARKS Literary Festival, now in its eighth year, at which creative writing students are regularly invited to participate.

Media mavens

English faculty members continue to make news at Memorial. Dr. Nancy Pedri recently received the 2016 Dean’s Award for Distinguished Scholarship and the recently retired Dr. Larry Mathews won the same award for graduate supervision. Dr. Valerie Legge’s online course, North American Aboriginal Literature, was nominated for the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education Award by the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. Later this summer, Drs. Danine Farquarson and Fiona Polack will host more than 150 scholars, policy-makers, industry employees, artists and public advocacy groups from across North America and beyond for Petrocultures 2016: The Offshore.

For more information, please visit the English and Communication Studies Program degree maps, visit the department’s website or follow the department on Facebook.

Who We Are, What We Do is a summer series from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences featuring faculty and students discussing their discipline. The next installment of Who We Are, What We Do: Department of Folklore, featuring Dr. Jillian Gould and new graduate Blair Kerr, launches July 4.

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