Forget the Oscars and the Junos. It’s Carleton’s awards season and English faculty, instructors, and students nearly “swept” the University and FASS awards, taking home awards in almost every major category. We’ve always known that English has the best teachers and researchers in the university, and now everyone else knows, too!


(winners profiled alphabetically)

University Teaching and Professional Achievement Awards

Dr. Susan Birkwood received the CU Professional Achievement Award for Instructors. A veteran of the awards circuit, Dr. Birkwood is a previous winner of this same award (2010), a FASS Teaching Awards (2009), and a Department of Residence and Housing “Favourite Faculty Member” award (2016).

Dr. Birkwood is committed to bringing the arts community into her classroom, while encouraging her students to explore Ottawa’s vibrant literary scene.   She regularly hosts guest speakers in her class, including photographers, visual artists, creative writers, and journalists; her course syllabi include class visits to the Carleton University Art Gallery; and she offers extra credit to students who attend (and write about) literary and artistic events in the city.

As a board member of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, Dr. Birkwood is well-connected to the city’s arts and culture community. These networks benefit not just Dr. Birkwood’s students, but also the wider campus community. For example, in partnership with Carleton’s Centre for Transnational Cultural Analysis, Dr. Birkwood hosted a campus visit by Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate, George Elliott Clarke. Although Clarke came to Carleton to speak to Dr. Birkwood’s Canadian literature class, she booked a larger room and advertised the event as open to everyone. Dr. Birkwood’s community connections and commitments continue to foster new opportunities for partnerships between the English Department and the city’s literary arts scene.

This year, while maintaining her dynamic approach to teaching and her position on the Writers Festival board, Dr. Birkwood also took up the position of Undergraduate Supervisor in the English Department.

Dr. Janne Cleveland took home a Contract Instructor Teaching Award this year. As a PhD Candidate in Cultural Mediations (Literary Studies stream), Dr. Cleveland started teaching in the English department 15 years ago. After completing her dissertation on Canadian playwright and master puppeteer, Ronnie Burkett, Dr. Cleveland returned to the department as a contract instructor. Actively involved in Ottawa’s theatre scene, she has been integral to the department’s Drama Studies programs as well as an eloquent advocate for contract instructors at Carleton.

In addition to teaching a range of traditional university courses, Dr. Cleveland is also active in community outreach. She has taught in Carleton’s Enrichment Mini-Courses program for high school students and recently participated in Carleton’s Partnership Conference in which she facilitated a workshop on “Activism, Puppetry and Street Theatre” for grade 11 students. An early adapter of technology, Dr. Cleveland integrates cuPortfolio and other blended learning in her courses, but she is perhaps best known for her old-school deadpan humour and dramatic flair in the classroom.

At the same time, Dr. Cleveland takes the arts seriously. “The world we live in can feel more than a little alienating,” she admits. “Examining how theatre and drama hold up the mirror can provide us with an opportunity to figure out how to navigate the anxious psychosocial landscapes of twenty-first-century life.”   She invokes the words of André Alexis, this year’s Munro Beattie lecturer, to convey what compels her passion for teaching literature and drama: “The arts transfer the horrific into the bearable.”

Associate Professor Brian Greenspan was awarded a Teaching Achievement Award to create a Digital Humanities Summer Institute (, in cooperation with Ottawa University and Carleton’s Global Academy. A combination of conference and summer school, DHSITE offers a range of talks, round-tables, and hands-on workshops on everything from video games and social media to digital mapping, text analysis, video editing, and wearable technologies. It brings together digital humanists working in both French and English across Central and Eastern Canada and Quebec, along with industry and educational partners. See photos from the conference here.

DHSITE complements Carleton’s undergraduate and graduate programs in the Digital Humanities, in which students from practically any area of study can learn how new media are influencing society, politics, language, culture, and the arts. Students who opt for the Digital Humanities B.A. (Minor) or M.A. Specialization take courses from across campus exploring how the fate of reading and writing in the age of twitter, blogs and e-books; how social media is altering our individual and collective identities; and how digital networks are changing music, film, and popular culture.

This award builds on more than a decade of digital humanities research into digital narrative, games, and heritage conservation that Dr. Greenspan and his students have conducted in Carleton’s Hyperlab. With funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, he and Dr. Stuart Murray recently opened the Digital Rhetorics+Ethics Lab. This new facility includes large-scale multitouch surfaces and a state-of-the-art motion capture system to study how collaborative platforms and interactive environments can allow people to work, write, and create together.

English faculty also scooped up awards in each of the FASS Award categories.

Professor Sarah Brouillette was awarded the prestigious Marston LaFrance Research Fellowship to complete her project on “A Global History of Cultural Production.” Read the full story of her award and project here, and watch our Events calendar in 2018 for Dr. Brouillette’s Marston LaFrance lecture.

Associate Professor Janice Schroeder was awarded a FASS Teaching Innovation Award. A specialist in Victorian literature, Dr. Schroeder brings current cultural concerns to bear on literatures of the past. Her award will support the development of environmental ethics and ecocritical themes in a core English course, ENGL 3502: British Literature from 1700-1914. As Dr. Schroeder explains, “All too often climate change and environmental devastation are regarded as matters only for climate scientists and policy analysts. But researchers and teachers in the humanities also have an important role to play in contributing to our students’ knowledge of the history and culture of climate change. British literature from 1700-1914 describes both the environmental effects of the Industrial Revolution, and the origins of ecological awareness, so this course is an ideal place to develop students’ –and my own—skills in ecocriticism.”

Dr. Schroeder establishes a supportive learning environment that invites intellectual exchange and encourages students’ focus. Her intellectual humility, empathy, and signature sense of humour have been remarked upon by her students. A recent “Raving Raven” from a student declared, “She is an amazing, hilarious lecturer as well as being very accommodating and understanding. Her class was one of my absolute top favourite English classes yet.” Another student recently wrote on a course evaluation: “Jan is everything a professor should be. She is very knowledgeable, approachable, and makes the class my favourite to attend.” Such comments attest to Dr. Schroeder’s passion for classroom teaching. As she says, “A great class is one where I leave feeling mentally energized and physically exhausted.”

Associate Professor Jody Mason  received the FASS Research Award for her book project Print and the Project of Liberal Citizenship: Frontier College in Canada’s Work Camps, 1899-1940. This will be the first sustained study of Frontier College, Canada’s longest running movement to teach adult workers to read and one of the first Canadian organizations to undertake the project of citizenship education. Dr. Mason’s research makes use of the extensive, and under-explored, archive of Frontier College materials held by Library and Archives Canada to show how the association’s organizers, teachers, and learners selected, created, used, and understood the print materials that were central to their literacy work.

Dr. Mason argues that in the early decades of the twentieth century, the College became invested in the “Canadianization” of its increasingly non-British immigrant students. With an interest in the College’s influence on postwar state conceptions of citizenship, Dr. Mason claims that the College “shaped pedagogies for liberal citizenship that became crucial techniques of government” following Canada’s National Citizenship Act in 1947. At the same time, Dr. Mason proposes, the college’s attempts at citizenship education failed, and for good reason: “The majority of the frontier workers who came into contact with the association in the decades prior to the Second World War, most of whom were non-British immigrants, found little of relevance or interest in the Canadianization program, its encouragement of individual progress, and its increasingly bureaucratized and formal system of education. Failing to account for this fact, contemporary state memorializations of Frontier College laud the organization’s early successes, which are often linked to its appraisal of what is cast as the nation’s essential plurality.”

But that’s not all! English graduate students have also garnered accolades in CU competitions.

M.A. student Sanita Fejzic won second place in Carleton’s highly competitive 3MT Competition! Sanita adds this to a long list of accomplishments, including recently winning the English Department’s annual Lillian I. Found Award for Poetry.