Director’s Notes: Michelle Mohammed shares insights from her mainstage experience

Each year, our Dramatic Arts students work hard to produce two mainstage productions (one in the fall, one in the spring). The mainstage gives them the opportunity to put into practice the skills they work hard at developing in their courses.

Michelle Mohammed is a fourth year Dramatic Arts major, minoring in English Language and Literature. She’s the Assistant Director for this year’s Dramatic Arts mainstage production of “Top Girls” by Caryl Churchill.

As part of her directing experience, Michelle is keeping a blog. She’s agreed to share a few excerpts with us below.

Top Girls tells the story of Marlene, a career-driven woman who is only interested in women’s success in business. It takes a critical look at women in society and considers the conflicts that come with the pursuit of success and the desire to “have it all.”

Tickets are sold at The show runs from March 2 to March 10 and is directed by Dramatic Arts professor Danielle Wilson.

Group of students

Students work through a thought exercise during six days of intensive workshops for this year's Dramatic Arts mainstage production of "Top Girl." (Photo: Michelle Mohammed)

I can still remember the exact feeling when I received an email from Danielle Wilson asking if I would accept the role of assistant director for the 2018 Winter Production of Top Girls — I stood, staring at my phone, and I was literally stunned – I couldn’t move, and could barely think. The actor in me was so excited that I had experienced a new feeling, and was now able to fully understand what it means to feel stunned in such a context, (and hopefully bring that into actor work one day) and the student in me was exhilarated. Since my audition for the DART Invitational in 2014, Danielle Wilson stood out to me, and I remember working with her in a workshop that day thinking, “I hope if I get into the program I can somehow, in anyway, work with that woman!” Four years later, and I get to work with Danielle in a way I never even thought I would be able to. It has always been evident to me, based on the shows I have seen her produce, that the work that interests her is the same type of work that interests me: strong writing, challenging roles for actors, and infused with some sort of a political statement….

The first order of business that is required of any show is a lot of research. Danielle and I spent a lot of time just talking about the play. She already knew that a major part of the research would have to focus on Margaret Thatcher and her influence on British politics, gender politics, and the political climate of the 80’s. In our conversation, we discovered a lot of the main themes we would often ‘circle’ back to, and from this, generated a rough list of main topics of research. With topics ranging from white feminism, to the Bechdel test, we curated a list and divvied up the research among the cast and me to share during our six day intensive before the winter break.

Read more about the first phase of production.

Dramatic Arts students work through a scene in "Top Girls." (Photo: Michelle Mohammed)

Have you ever wondered what it is like for a student to be a part of a DART Mainstage production? For every actor, being a part of a Mainstage in the Dramatic Arts program will amount to very different experiences. What most Mainstage actors have in common is that they are juggling university courses on top of a 20-hour a week rehearsal schedule. Despite the time commitment, most students are grateful for the opportunity — a Mainstage is the chance young actors are looking for – the time to start applying the lessons learned in studio classes to work on stage. But what exactly is it like being a part of the process, and more specifically, what has it been like to be a part of an all female ensemble? I sat down with a few cast members to ask them about their experiences.

Click through to read Michelle’s interviews with Meryl Ochoa, Manchari Paranthahan, and Emma McCormick.

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Introducing Colin Bruce Anthes

There’s a new face in the advising office! Colin Bruce Anthes will be temporarily advising for MIWSFPA, IASC, and GAME programs.

He can be found at the MIWSFPA campus (Room 404) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and on the main compus (MCA313) Wednesday mornings.

Colin is a familiar face around Brock, as he studied both Dramatic Arts and Philosophy here. He is also currently an instructor in the Dramatic Arts program. We asked Colin a few questions about his new advising role.

Colin Anthes

Colin Anthes will be offering academic advising to students in MIWSFPA, GAME, and IASC programs.

Q: What does an Academic Advisor do?
Colin Anthes: I help students create practical roadmaps towards the education they desire. I make sure they are meeting their mandatory course requirements, while also helping them think more broadly about what kinds of courses and studies will most fulfill them, problem solving as necessary along the way. This includes helping them determine majors, combined majors, minors, and more.
I sometimes provide overrides to get students into particular courses, and work with other departments like admissions to arrange credit transfers and exemptions.
I also provide information about other departments and services that can help students achieve their goals.

Q: What does the role of Academic Advisor mean to you personally?
CA: An academic advisor is a good listener who genuinely wants each individual student to get the most out of their education. They are someone who first lets the student articulate their own concerns and desires for their studies, as well as their uncertainties. They then cater their suggestions to help that specific person build the educational experience that will most fulfill them.

Q: You are new to this role, but you’re not new to Brock. What is your connection to the Brock community?
CA: I’ve had many associations with Brock, all of them positive! After a college diploma in Theatre Performance, I undertook a combined Psychology/Dramatic Art degree with a Minor in Philosophy at Brock. Subsequently, I did my MA in the Philosophy department.
Over the past few years I’ve worked professionally as a theatre artist with a number of Brock graduates, and have worked as a teaching assistant in the Philosophy and Dramatic Art Departments.
I am currently also working as a sessional instructor in the Dramatic Art department, teaching Introduction to Performance. I’m thrilled to add academic advising to the list!

Q: What do you most look forward to in this new role?
CA: I love hearing about the different things people are interested in. To be able to help them pursue their interests is especially rewarding.

Q: Is there anything else you would like students to know about yourself or your role?
CA: Only that I truly care about education, and genuinely want each student to find the outlets that will reward them and allow them to flourish!

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Tuesday Tips

Join us on Instagram each Tuesday for #TuesdayTips! Pick up tips that will enrich your Brock experience, whether it’s improving your grades, connecting with campus resources, or focussing on your well-being!

What are your goals for 2018? Improved grades? Better study habits? Get involved around campus or in the community? Take better care of yourself? Whatever your goals, Brock has resources to help you take action. Check out BrockU4U for links to academic, wellness, and financial information and more.

cartoon worm chasing cartoon bird "The early worm gets the bird"They say the early bird gets the worm, so plan now for a successful semester! Do you know when your assignments are due? Do you understand how your final mark will be calculated? Check your course syllabus so you can be prepared. Talk to your TA or professor if you have questions.

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Essays? Bring them on!

November can be a stressful time of term, and Craig Maltais, a fourth year student studying French and Concurrent Education, knows that well. This week he shares his experience as a student in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures and offers some great tips for getting through the essay workload!

It’s that time of year! It’s the grind. It’s the final countdown. The Halloween festivities are over, and now all that is left is the bright light of freedom at the end of the semester. All there is between now and then are those final projects. For students of the humanities, that probably means taking on a number of long essays that need to be written.

For a lot of programs, the most stressful time of the semester is exam time, but that isn’t necessarily the case for humanities students. For us, the final essays can count for the bulk of our final grade which places us under a lot of stress. Unfortunately, that stress is added to the weekly routine of class and other activities. But, with all the being said, it’s something that we’ve come to expect. After all, we are humanities students!

So instead of getting down on ourselves because of all the work that we have to do this month, let’s take a look at the good things that come from essay period!

First of all I want to point out that for some of us, having big essays that are worth a lot more of our final grade means that we might not have an exam for that class! So knowing once that essay is done you can kick up your boots and relax for the first time since August is a great feeling and definitely something to work towards!

Another one of the greatest things about studying in the humanities is that not only do we get to learn from some of the greatest literary works in history, but we also get to write! Reading is fun, but writing is where we get to be ourselves and explore the things that we are passionate about. In upper year classes, especially, writing becomes a sort of academic freedom. Being able to express ourselves is a great feeling and relating it back to the subjects that we love is why we are here!

Now we do have to acknowledge that the creative process isn’t always easy, and sometimes no words come to mind to fill up that blank Word document. Do NOT worry, because it happens to all of us. Here are couple of tips to get the creative juices flowing once again!

  • Start early! Giving yourself plenty of time to write your paper is essential not only to keeping stress levels to a minimum, but also to getting a good grade. Once in a while, things get pushed off to the last minute. It is university after all! However, making an effort to start these assignments well in advance helps the final product, gives you a chance to overcome writers block, to do extra research, and to edit, and edit, and edit again!
  • Sometimes taking a break for a few hours is another great way find some inspiration, or to boost your motivation! If that doesn’t seem to work and things still don’t seem to be going your way with the essay, there are always other places you can go for support. Sometimes having a quick conversation with your Professor or Teaching Assistant is a great way to stimulate your mind in terms of what you should be writing about. Don’t forget that our instructors are here to help us.
  • Additionally, Brock University offers a variety of different programs that can help students with homework, assignments, and essays. Luckily for us, the James A. Gibson Library offers essay writing help.This service provides tips and tricks to master the art of writing essays. All of the formatting and proper citing is something that adds that perfect final touch to our essays. This can come in really handy in improving your paper’s grade from a B to an A.
  • Another great place to look for some extra help is A-Z Learning Services.  They offer a variety of writing workshops that range from creating a strong thesis statement to mastering MLA formatting.

November can be a tough month. But work hard, and believe in yourself!

Drink that large coffee!  Buckle down, and write something that you’re proud of. We are Humanities Students! Essays are what we do!

    Bring it on!

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Interactive Arts & Science program offers real-world skills and experiences

What is Interactive Arts and Science about anyway? This week, fourth year student Ellen Thornton shares her experience studying the digital humanities.

You can learn more about Brock’s Centre for Digital Humanities and the programs we offer here. The diverse field of digital humanities may be just the right fit for you!

As a university student, the first question anyone asks me is “what program are you in?”

For many students, this answer is very simple since most people are familiar with programs like psychology, geography, or concurrent education.  My answer, however, comes with a lot of questioning looks and follow-up questions.

My program is called Interactive Arts and Science, or IASC for short.  This program focuses on the study of interactive digital media, which can range from web design, animation, video game design, sound design, and everything in between.

The IASC program offers a unique university experience that is different from other programs at Brock.

Smaller Class Sizes

Most university students are used to the huge lecture halls filled with hundreds of people, which I personally found quite intimidating, especially in my first year.  While this is still true depending on the electives people choose, the required courses in the IASC program in contrast have a much smaller class sizes, averaging between 30-50 students.

This means that not only do I know everyone in most of my courses, but the professors know who I am, which makes it so much easier to be engaged in the material and to ask for help on assignments.  The class sizes aren’t that different from high school, which helped me make a smooth transition from high school to university.

Wide Variety of Courses

Because the Interactive Arts and Science program is so diverse, it gives students the ability to find what really interests them.  Through my electives, I have taken history and film courses that relate to my program, while my friends have taken computer science or communication courses.

The IASC program really gives students the chance to learn about a variety of different topics, and when they find something they love they can take a course that dives deeper into the subject.  It makes every university career unique and equips students with the knowledge and skills they need for their dream careers after graduation.

Experiential Learning

While on the subject of courses, it’s one thing to learn about theories and processes, but what happens when it’s time to graduate and apply what you’ve learned?

The IASC program blends theory and practice and builds it into the program to ensure that students have transferable skills that they can use when they start working.

One of the most notable courses I have taken so far is IASC 2P08: Competencies in Interactive Arts and Science.  Instead of writing essays or sitting in lectures, to earn this credit I needed to attend 30 hours of workshops, networking or volunteering events that relate to the program.  This gave me the opportunity to not only discover just how many ways my degree can be applied after graduation, but also to listen and speak to people who are working in the different fields and learn some tricks of the trade.

Plus, it makes my parents feel better that there are jobs out there after graduation!

What are Exams?

Because the IASC program focuses on applying the knowledge we learn in class, it means that most of my required courses don’t have a formal written exam at the end of the semester.  Instead, my workload includes assignments that evaluate how well we use what we have learned in a practical, hands-on setting.

The only exams I write are for my elective classes, but I have been lucky enough to have 2 different semesters where I haven’t had to write any exams at all!  Sure it means that towards the end of the semester I am juggling 4 different assignments all due on the same day, but it feels so good to be done early and have an extra 2 weeks off, and who doesn’t like that?

All in all, the Interactive Arts and Science program doesn’t have a concrete definition, because digital and interactive media is used in so many different ways.  Because of this, every student’s experience is very different.  The thing about university that I was most excited about was having more control in what courses I wanted to take, and the IASC program really embraces this individuality.  I get to learn what I am interested in and what I want to learn, which motivates me to work harder and feel like I have the skills to pursue a career that I am passionate about.

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Six Reasons to Study Latin

Today’s post is brought to you by Keegan Bruce, a fourth year Classics student. As part of her program, Keegan is studying ancient Greek and Latin. Here, she shares her top six reasons to study  Latin.

You can learn more about studying ancient Greek and Latin and the Classics programs here.

1. Enhance Your Vocabulary

When I was in high school, I was taught that the words that sound the fanciest usually have Latin or Greek roots. I didn’t think much of that fact until first year Latin.

As I learned the vocabulary, I drew parallels between English and Latin. It became a kind of game to find the English word that had come from Latin, like the Latin, pulcher, which means beautiful but sounds like something a cat threw up (the English equivalent is pulchritudinous, meaning ‘of exceptional beauty’).

Other great words include:
Ineffable: indescribable, cannot be said/ put to words
Sonorous: a commandingly deep and full sound
Ailurophile: a cat lover
Effervescent: bubbly
Labyrinthine: twisting and maze-like
Mellifluous: sweet sounding

With Latin and Greek behind you, you can communicate more eloquently than you ever could before.

2. Develop Argumentative Eloquence

Have you ever been in an argument and fumbled over your words so much that you end up making no sense and rambling on until you’ve lost based solely on how unintelligible you were?

Latin and Greek rely heavily on knowing each word’s part of speech and how they fit together. Sentences become little LEGO play sets, with every word in a particular place with a specific meaning to make a complete unit. Eventually you start to think about structure in your everyday speech.

Then, whether you’re arguing your point in an essay or with a friend, the sentences flow smoothly, the facts follow logical steps, and your result clauses will be undeniably excellent.

If nothing else, after reading Cicero you’ll know how to stack dependent clauses in such a way that your opponent give up out of sheer frustration!

3. Earn Better Grades

Let’s not pretend that we’re not all here for good grades. Ancient languages help with that too! Your essays will improve as you will stop using the passive voice, make clearer arguments, and have a larger vocabulary.

If you’re in sciences, your reports and analyses will be more logical and they will be easier for you to write.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, that’s ok. Here’s a paper by Richard Lafleur studying how Latin increases logical thinking and raises SAT scores in math as well as vocabulary.

4. Develop Organization Skills

Learning an ancient language makes you organized. When translating, you have to know word cases and verb conjugations, so you automatically start to mark up your text as you read.

For me, this helped make my notes for other classes more organized. Once I learned to do it for Latin and Greek, I learned what I needed to colour code or focus on for my other class notes.

If you want to train your brain to get better at organizing information, an ancient language is a sure way to help you.

5. Learn Modern Languages More Easily

There are several reasons why learning ancient languages makes it easier to learn modern languages. If the language you’re learning is a Romance language (e.g., French, Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese), most of the vocabulary and verb conjugation will carry over, meaning there will be fewer new things for your brain to take in. If it’s any other language, you will already know the parts of speech and have an in-depth understanding of grammar.

This means that when people are learning for the first time what “person” means when talking about verbs, you’ll be relaxing and focusing on vocabulary instead.

In a word, you’ve gained confidence.

6. It’s Fun!

Honestly, it’s really really fun to know an ancient language. You can understand witches’ spells in horror movies (and how little sense they make) and translate every motto.

Finishing a passage of translation feels like finishing a marathon in first place, or solving a murder case. Suddenly, you can understand that Cicero was actually hilarious, and Catullus was dirtier than you ever expected. There’s a whole new world of jokes and stories open to you that you could only get in translation before.

Now you are the one shaping the words, deciding the best way to express what Julius Caesar wanted to say. You can look at a dead language and make it alive again. Once you’ve learned Latin or ancient Greek, what can’t you do?

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Experiential learning in the digital humanities

Today’s post is from Nichole Caven, a recent graduate of our Interactive Arts and Science (IASC) program offered through our Centre for Digital Humanities.

IASC explores the world of interactive media and new modes of storytelling. Students combine classroom learning with hands-on collaborative projects using the latest technology. Learn more about applying to the Interactive Arts and Science program here.

I am a recent graduate of the Interactive Arts and Sciences program at Brock. I chose this program because I found it offered the best blend of theoretical knowledge, artistic opportunities and real world applications.

Many of the classes that I took were based on theory but the skills gained from the entry level art classes helped to build my skill set. These two things combined made my experiences that much more beneficial.

A screenshot from Nichole Caven's final project in the Interactive Arts and Science program.

At school, the final project in the IASC program gave me the opportunity to combine both the theoretical and artistic knowledge and skills I have gained over the last 4 years in a practical setting. It was the culmination of all of my knowledge and skills put to the test in a year long project.

It was during this that the difference between classroom lessons and experience was clearly evident. Even though everyone on the team had the knowledge, the project pushed us to apply our knowledge and expand on what we were taught in useful ways.

Through Brock’s internship program I got to work at Morro Motion. This was the real world professional setting that put all these university taught skills to the test. The differences in expectations between being a student and working professional were clear.

I found being a student was all about soaking up knowledge and learning how to learn; whereas working was about applying the practical and theoretical knowledge I already had to fill the gaps in my skill set and using all of these university and self taught skills to get the job done.

Nichole Caven

Now that I have the theoretical knowledge and the understanding of how my skills will be used in the real world I am aiming to work in a motion capture studio.

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History student Sean Thomas lives the 18th century soldier’s life

This week’s post is a long read by history student Sean Thomas, who spent a week living like an American Revolutionary War soldier.

Sean initially wrote this piece as an assignment for HIST3P31 “Historian’s Toolbox,” taught by Professor Colin Rose.

“The assignment was to live historically, in one of several time periods, and to write about what that experience was like and what was learned from doing it,” explains Sean. ” I chose to live like an American Revolutionary War soldier.”

We hope you enjoy reading about his week as much as we did!

"Soldiers at the siege of Yorktown" by Jean-Baptiste-Antoine De Verger is a watercolour sketch showing American soldiers in 1781. (Source: Wikimedia)

Living historically as an American Soldier during the Revolutionary War was no easy task. My method before I began my seven day experiment was to read all of General Washington’s “Rules of Civility” and watch the video on Vice and find a middle ground that I believed would be possible while still attending school.

The rules were fairly easy to adapt to school life, since most of them were just one hundred and ten ways to say be polite. The more difficult part was the actual daily routine.

The day before I set out to live historically I did a grocery shop and beer run for the week. I bought things like loaves of bread, blocks of cheese, whole chickens, and salted pork. I also bought a case of beer and an armful of hard cider. That day was full of optimism; it sounded too good to be true that I got to drink all week and eat like that for an assignment!

I regretted that in about three days.

General Washington

General Washington’s “Rules of Civility” were, at times, almost impossible to implement in today’s world. One rule stated the position to stand next to your superior when you are walking and having a conversation and when and how you were allowed to contribute to that conversation. Rules that did not apply to me, mainly because I never found myself in a position where I was walking and talking to someone who was superior, like a professor.

Other that that the rules were fairly easy to follow; most of them were drilled into me since I was five. Things like put your napkin on your lap, don’t chew with your mouth full, don’t talk about people when they’re not there, and don’t tell a story if you don’t have the full story.

Others posed a much larger challenge. Interestingly enough, the ones I had trouble with tended to be in regards to the body. Rules like keep your feet firmly planted and don’t cross them, don’t touch your beard, or don’t lift one eyebrow higher than the other. I learned this week that I touch my beard way too much and move my feet far too often. It took about four days until those habits started to fade out, but it was not without constant reminder to myself.

An American colonial kitchen. From "A Brief History of the United States" by Joel Dorman Steele and Esther Baker Steele, 1885. Public Domain (Source: Wikimedia)

Eating was probably the most difficult element of revolutionary life to adjust too. And adjust I did not. Most mornings my breakfast consisted of an apple and a hard cider. Lunch was bread, cheese, and beer. And dinner was meat, pork or chicken, and beer or rum.

Rum was never directly mentioned, but maybe I was a sailor who brought it back from the Caribbean. The key is to have fun with it.

The food started out great, it was delicious and it was all washed down with alcohol. However, after a couple of days I was craving a bell pepper and I started feeling greasy and bloated.

I did, however, cook the food in an oven. I tried to be as accurate as possible, but I simply did not have a wood stove to cook on. After I made it over the half way point, the repetitive diet and salted pork started tasting delicious again. Around day five it didn’t feel as though my diet was any different than it ever was.

Food, which I thought would be the biggest barrier, proved to be relative easy. Easier than not touching my beard or hair.

The alcohol, on the other hand, was a challenge.

I underestimated the cumulative effect of a week of casual day drinks, and the occasional night cap. The rules essentially said no water, so in the morning it was hard cider. And then I had to go to class. Naturally, I could not drive and accepted the bus as a substitute for a horse and buggy.

About the time I got home I found that I was tired, tipsy, and in no position to do readings. The solution: another beer. I have not heard yet if my seminar participation was inspired or sloppy, but it was historically accurate.

The part that surprised me the most about my week of historical living was how easy it was for me to not use electricity. I was lucky, in that I had no papers due and did not have to do any research for courses. In seminars that I had to get readings online, I had my roommate print them out and give them to me. I used no artificial lights, no cell phone, no laptop, no Xbox, nor anything related.

I bought about fifty candles from Dollarama the day before I began, and burned through forty-nine of them. I knew that one candle would not be enough for my room to be illuminated enough to function, but I assumed two would do the trick. I burned ten candles at a time. I also learned that candles in front of a mirror produces more light, something that was probably common knowledge back then.

As far as passing the time, I mostly read. I did all of my seminar readings, all of my lecture readings, and read three novels. I also messed around with some doodling and writing.

Everything said and done, I had a blast with no electricity. Of course, I was dying to watch a movie. However, I held strong and did not use any electricity whatsoever. The constant drinking probably helped. I also found that, without trying, I was usually asleep by around ten every night and awake around seven in the morning. A feat I thought impossible two weeks ago.

Washington's entry into New York: on the evacuation of the city by the British, Nov. 25th. 1783. Currier & Ives. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. (Source: Wikimedia).

My week of living as a soldier in the Revolutionary War was informative. Obviously I missed the horrendous parts, like war. But I ate, drank, and behaved like a man from the eighteenth century. George Washington’s “Rules of Civility” more or less translated into modern day manners, though we are uncultured compared to the rules he wrote when he was sixteen.

The diet and fluid intake was hard on my body, but I can understand how the body adapts to it and it was certainly favorable to dysentery.

And the technological aspect is one in which I am jealous of the era. I conversed with people more, and I learned much more in one week than I normally would have. I may not volunteer to live like a Revolutionary soldier again, but I do feel as though these past seven days has taught me, to a limited degree, what life was like in America in the late 1700’s.

And, given how drunk, or tipsy, I was on a regular basis, it is a wonder they managed to accomplish anything, let alone build a new empire.

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Responding to politics with poetry

Casey Lawrence, an MA student in English, has recently published an anthology of poetry in response to American politics. Work by Andrew Power, a fourth year English major, is included in the volume.

Casey Lawrence is using the power of words to make the world a better place.

Lawrence, who has just completed her English BA and is embarking on an MA, has just released a co-edited anthology of poetry and short prose title “11/9: The Fall of American Democracy” to highlight marginalized voices affected by American politics.

Lawrence believes that poetry’s power to validate people’s feelings and make connections has an important place in the current political climate.

“We’re using poetry to create awareness and connection but also to do tangible good in the world with our words,” adds Lawrence. “Poetry is political; It has always been about dissent and resistance.”

Although Lawrence has published several young adult novels, this was her first time working on an anthology. It was more difficult than expected, she says, but very rewarding to see people’ positive response to both the texts and the cause they’re donating.

Lawrence worked with her co-editor William D. Dickerson to sift through hundreds of submissions after putting out a call for submissions online and through her author network.

The volume features 57 international authors and prioritizes those most affected by the results of the 2017 American election. Both amateur and established poets are included.

Fourth-year Brock English student Andrew Power is one of the few Canadian poets featured in the new volume.

His erasure poem is written by blacking out words from a page of John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” He chose “Paradise Lost” as a starting point because of its theme of the pursuit of ambition.

Power wants readers to see that people have been looking at phenomena like this for hundreds of years.

“Literature always been addressing political subjects,” he explains. “The topics aren’t that uncommon, but cyclical.”

The project is completely non-profit and all proceeds are being donated to charity. Lawrence and Dickerson have published the work through’s Create Space, and all proceeds will be donated to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), which supports survivors of sexual violence, and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).

“11/9: The Fall of American Democracy” is available as both a paperback and ebook through or its Facebook page. You can connect with Casey Lawrence on Facebook as well.

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Visiting Fulbright scholar immersed in history of local black community

Visiting Fulbright scholar Professor Daniel Broyld will be teaching CANA3V91 on abolitionist movements in the US and Canada this fall. Students will be using the library's special collections and archives to examine early photographs and tin types of members of St. Catharines' black community.

For visiting Fulbright Scholar Daniel Broyld, living and working in St. Catharines adds another layer to his research on black identity and migration along the Canadian-American border.

“It’s very important for me to actually inhabit this space,” he says of his time in Niagara, where he’ll be working at Brock until December. “Although I look at black communities in the 19th century, it’s nice to still familiarize myself with the landscape and community they would have lived in. To actually live here is another part of understanding.”

Broyld’s semester at Brock, which began in July, will also give him an opportunity to share his expertise with students and to work on his upcoming book. Borderland Blacks focuses on the transnational exchange of immigration and interaction between the Rochester New York and St. Catharines black communities.

Broyld has already found fresh research material in the St. Catharines Public Library collection and is making use of Brock’s Rick Bell collection of photographs from the 1860s and 1870s.

“It’s nice to be able to spend some real time and not rush through it, but to feel like I can settle into understanding the black history of St. Catharines,” he says.

An assistant professor of History at Central Connecticut State University, Broyld is an expert on Harriet Tubman and has consulted on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland.

His time at Brock was made possible through one of about 8,000 grants awarded each year through the Fulbright Program — an American scholarship program that enables American scholars to research and teach abroad, and international scholars to study in the United States.

Broyld is interested in the experience of black women, such as Tubman, coming to Canada during the Victorian era.

“There’s a deeper analysis of Tubman that goes beyond just the racial component of her being in Canada,” he says. “Black women running to Canada was more than an analysis of racial liberation. I think they thought, too, that this was the queen’s soil … What can the queen offer them personally?”

While at Brock, Broyld will be teaching Canadian Studies course CANA3V91 Abolitionist Movements in Canada and the United States, focusing on the transnational nature of the abolitionist movement.

“The abolitionist movement is a precursor to the civil rights movement,” Broyld explains. “There are different schools of thought, different philosophies and different approaches to how to rid yourself of the institution of slavery.”

The course is not just about American slavery, but about understanding Canadian slavery and how newly freed people were incorporated into society. “We’re weaving the two nations together to tell a cohesive story,” Broyld says.

As part of the course, students will be using the Archives and Special Collections of Brock’s James A. Gibson Library as well as material at the St. Catharines Public Library. Students will use 19th century photographs and tin types — images on thin pieces of metal — to learn how material culture can provide a deeper understanding of lived experience.

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