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LitMod Turns 10!

April 29, 2019

LitMod faculty, staff, students, and alumni gathered at Heaslip House on Friday, March 22, 2019, to celebrate the first ten years of our program. The full-day event, illuminating the scholarly, experiential, and creative components of our unique MA, began with opening remarks by Liz Podnieks, current LitMod Director; Andrew O’Malley, Chair, Department of English; and Samantha Wehbi, Associate Dean, Student Affairs--Yeates School of Graduate Studies. Sara Saljoughi (pictured here), one of our impressive grads from the first cohort, and now Assistant Professor in the Department of English, University of Toronto Scarborough, and the Cinema Studies Institute, University of Toronto, delivered the scholarly keynote address on the topic of “The Aesthetics of Future Collectivities.”

Sara’s talk was followed by a panel of LitMod students, past and present, who read the following scholarly papers: Nisha Eswaran (PhD candidate, Department of English and Cultural Studies McMaster University), “Re-imagining Utopia: Spirituality and Friendship in the Age of Indian Nationalism”; Natalja Chestopalova (PhD candidate, Department of Communication and Culture, York and Ryerson Universities), “New Ways of Seeing, New Ways of Archiving Indigenous Histories and Displaced Narratives”; and Sam Boer (MA candidate, Literatures of Modernity), “‘Witness my Sad Little Nightly Ritual’: Suburban Isolation in Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina.”

After a catered lunch, a panel on Practicum Success Stories highlighted alumni Gaeby Abrahams (Writers Union of Canada); Stephen Carlick (Exclaim!); Kailey Havelock (CookeMcDermid); and Brianna Cooze (Toronto International Festival of Authors). Our final panel, on Creative Writing, was dedicated to the launch of the special issue of White Wall Review, the English Department’s literary journal. On hand were contributors Natalja Chestopalova, Chloe Coome, Nisha Eswaran, Alec Follett, Jennifer Fraser, Joe Howell, Rebecca Martin, Aesha Nananso, Robert Pasquini, Alexandra Pospisil, Sara Saljoughi, Tali Voron, and Jason Wang, reading from their non-fiction prose pieces, written in response to the prompt, “What Does Modernity Mean to You?” The Showcase concluded with the creative keynote address, “Gene Rations--Exploring the History of My Métis Family with Poetry and Photos,” by Katherena Vermette, Governor-General’s Award winning author, anthologist, and documentary filmmaker.

A reception with wine, hors d’oeuvres, and cup cakes complemented the intellectual, imaginative, and social sustenance of this most festive and collegial day. Happy Birthday LitMod—here’s to the next ten years!

The Showcase was generously supported with grants provided by the Department of English, the Office of the Dean of Arts, and the Yeates School of Graduate Studies. Thank you to all of the speakers, alumni, and students for helping us to celebrate this ten-year milestone in the history of the Literatures of Modernity MA program.