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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
September 27, 2016
Canadian Excellence

PhD Student Profiles


Emily Bednarz

Emily Bednarz is a third-year 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 Honours degree in English at WLU. She worked with D.M.R. Bentley from 2012 to 2013 on the Canadian Poetry Project at Western University. Emily's dissertation tracks the development of the “Canadian Road Trip,” with an emphasis on alternative voices including women, minority, queer, and First Nations writers. She hopes to demonstrate how alternative mobilities subvert the dominant narratives surrounding Canada’s transportation infrastructures, challenging the easy association between the construction of transportation systems (such as the Canadian Pacific Railway or Trans-Canada Highway) and Canada’s conception of nationhood. She currently works as a tutor at Wilfrid Laurier’s Writing Centre and her creative work can be found in Guide to Kulchur Creative Journal, Purple Sparks, and Blueprint Magazine.

Dissertation Title (tentative): Roads Less Travelled: Alternative Mobilities and Movement in Contemporary Canadian Literature

Supervisor: Dr. Tanis MacDonald


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 Bergstrom is currently in his fifth 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 Renaissance discourse of strangeness, and post-Reformation conceptions of the human condition in relation to God.

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 fourth-year PhD candidate in English literature. Her dissertation explores representations of astronomy in nineteenth-century fiction, non-fiction, and homiletic text. When she is not immersed in her research (and sometimes even when she is), Clark writes for pleasure, and has been fortunate to see some of her stories published over the course of her grad-student career.

Dissertation Title (tentative): “Who Speaks for the Cosmos?: The Astronomer and His Social Context in Corelli, De Quincey, Shelley, and the Whewell-Brewster Debate”

Supervisor: Dr. Lynn Shakinovsky


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, Gizmo and Widget.

Advisor: Dr. Katherine Spring


Susan Hroncek

Susan Hroncek 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


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


Rebekah Ludolph

Rebekah Ludolph completed her BA at Laurier with a combined honours in Global Studies and English Literature. She proceeded to write her MA thesis "Bare Mind: Dementia and the Diasporic State of Exception in David Chariandy's Soucouyant" for the Cultural Social and Political Thought program at the University of Victoria. She is now in the first year of her SSHRC funded PhD at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her proposed dissertation argues that representations of mental disorder by contemporary Canadian based women writers reveal how alternative subjectivities are pathologized within inclusive and integrative power structures.

Advisor: Dr. Tanis MacDonald


Shannon Maguire

Shannon Maguire is a PhD candidate. Her scholarly articles have appeared in Canadian Literature and Doris Lessing Studies. She edited and wrote the critical introduction to Planetary Noise: Selected Poetry of Erín Moure, under contract with Wesleyan University Press, tentatively scheduled for publication in 2017. With Lesley Belleau, she is the guest co-editor of a special issue of Contemporary Verse 2 on Northern Ontarian Innovative and Indigenous Poetics, forthcoming in Winter 2017. Shannon is the author of two full-length poetry collections, fur(l) parachute (BookThug 2013)—shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry—and Myrmurs: An Exploded Sestina (BookThug 2015). She has also published four chapbooks: Fruit Machine (Ferno House 2012), a finalist for the bpNichol Chapbook Award; A Web Of Holes (above/ground 2012);  Vowel Wolves & Other Knots (above/ground 2011); and As An Eel Through the Body (Dancing Girl 2016), a bilingual (Finnish/English) poem written in collaboration with Vappu Kannas. Shannon holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Guelph) and an MA in English (Brock) and has taught Creative Writing at Algoma University.

Dissertation Title (tentative): Noise Poetics: Contemporary Queer and Métis Poetry and Hospitality in Canada, 1965-2015

Supervisor: Dr. Eleanor Ty


Grace McCarthy

Grace is currently a doctoral student at Laurier with a focus in Early Modern Drama. She completed a BA and an MA at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her Master’s thesis, The Evolution of the Patient Woman: Examining Patient Griselda as a Source for William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, argued for an Early Modern source for Shakespeare rather than a Chaucerian one. Grace’s current research interests include representations of (dis)ability in the text of Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatic works, and how those representations are translated and adapted in modern film. When Grace isn’t alluding to Shakespeare in the classroom, she can be found beading, skating or reading more Shakespeare.


Mike McCleary

Mike McCleary completed his BA in English literature at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. Mike then returned to Ontario to complete his MA at Laurier. During his MA he completed a directed study on metafilmic adaptations and won the Faculty of Arts Gold Medal for academic achievement. Mike’s current research takes digital cinema, intermediality, and transmedia networks as its central focus. More specifically, he researches how different mediums are employed within the cinema and how media juxtaposition can be employed to affect cultural identity formation, for which he has been awarded a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship. Beyond this research, he also has a significant interest in pedagogy and educational scholarship and has won Laurier’s Teaching Assistant Award of Excellence. He is also an avid fisherman and outdoorsman, a big baseball/football fan, and he has pitched for the national championship winning Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack in the Canadian Collegiate Baseball League.

Dissertation Title: Mediation and Transmedia Networks: The Double Logic of Cultural Globalization in Digital Cinema

Supervisor: Dr. Russell Kilbourn


Claire Meldrum

Claire is currently in her third 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 genre writing, particularly detective fiction, women writers 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: 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 and in her second year of the English doctoral program, apparently confirming her status as a "career student" to friends and family.  Her research interests include CanLit, postmodernism, historiography, gender studies, and theories of identity formation and subjectivity.  Other interests include teaching, music, art, and experimenting in the kitchen.  She currently lives in Kitchener and does part-time work as a piano teacher and music director.

Dissertation Title (tentative): Remediating History:  Gender and Historiography in Canadian Postmodern 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


Devin Ruelland

Before coming to Laurier for his PhD, Devin received 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 may have on a film's adaptation of its source, including a particular concentration on genre studies. With this in mind, Devin’s current focus is on 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 comment (or capitalize) on cultural concerns in the US during the late 1960's and 1970's.

Supervisor: Dr. Philippa Gates


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 has previously published and presented on monster theory in American popular literature and comics and continues to explore concepts of monstrosity in film and literature. Her dissertation research focuses on 20th century American science fiction in which dinosaurs exist in a frontier space where they allegorize technological progress, threaten gender identity, question environmental exploitation, and are otherwise monstrous.

Dissertation title (tentative):
A Prehistoric Future: Dinosaurs and the American Frontier

Supervisor: Dr. Andrea Austin

Sanchari Sur

Sanchari is a feminist/ anti-racist/ sex-positive/ gender queer Canadian who was born in Calcutta, India. A second year doctoral candidate in English, her research interests lie in the areas of post-colonial South Asian literature and its diaspora. She is also engaged in creative work, much of which deals with gender and race in the Canadian context.

Dissertation title (tentative): Interrogating Canadian Multiculturalism through South Asian Canadian Women's Fiction

Supervisor: Dr. Mariam Pirbhai


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


Allen Tripp

Allen is a first-year doctoral candidate in English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. His primary area of focus zeroes in on British Romantic poetry and prose. Previously, he completed a Master’s degree in “Text/Community/Discourse” at Brock University, where he composed a Major Research Project on memory and mourning in Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads (1802). His current research examines the relationship between British nationalism and transnational ethics in Wordsworth’s famous Cintra tract, a philosophical – and equally poetic – commentary on the Napoleonic Wars. In addition, Allen is this year’s Vice President of English for the department’s Graduate Students’ Association, as well as the 2016 ACCUTE Graduate Representative. Beyond academe, he enjoys racquetball sports (squash), skating, and strategy board games.