Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Comics and the Multimodal World conference takes interactive approach to engage wider audience

From left: Douglas instructors and comics fans Peter Wilkins, David N. Wright and Brenna Clarke Gray have created a conference with a twist.

By Tamara Letkeman, doug Editor

Presenting a dry academic paper while an audience passively listens is so passé.

Yes, the scholarly conference is evolving, and three Douglas College instructors – Brenna Clarke Gray, David N. Wright and Peter Wilkins – have found the perfect platform on which to build a new-school style conference that is both interactive and has wide appeal to a broad audience: comics.

From June 13-16 Douglas College will host Comics and the Multimodal World, an event that will see scholars from a variety of disciplines from around the globe come together to discuss their research on comics and digital culture.

The conference will include interactive seminars where the audience – the public is welcome and encouraged to attend – will be invited to participate in making, testing and using comics, while the first day of the conference has been designated Student Day and will feature roundtable conversations, a hands-on seminar/teach-in, film screenings and a special forum.

Wright says this approach falls in line with what’s happening with scholarly conferences nowadays.

“They’re becoming un-conferences,” he says. “Paper presentation is part of it, but conferences are opening up to include seminars and workshops, for example. They’re becoming more interactive.”

Clarke Gray says one of the things this conference aims to do is bring together the academic side of comics and the actual practice of making comics in one space.

“Sarah Leavitt, who’s giving our keynote, is doing a whole workshop session on creating comics from memoir, so you actually get to sit down with her and work through the process,” she says.

Conventional paper sessions – which will be more academic – will have their place at this conference. But Wilkins says it doesn’t matter if you’re a comics scholar or just a huge comics fan; it’s easy to find common ground.

“I was at a big comics conference in Spain,” he recalls, “where everybody was talking highfalutin theory about abstraction in comics and things like that. But at the end, they were all talking about X-Men.”

Comics and the Multimodal World runs June 13-16 at Douglas College’s New Westminster Campus, 700 Royal Ave. For more information or to register, visit the conference website. Read more...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Douglas hosts comics conference June 13-16 - and you're invited!

Do you love comics? Are you interested in digital culture?

Then get set to get your geek on at Comics and the Multimodal World, a conference that will see scholars from around the globe converge at Douglas College for four days of forums, interactive workshops, seminars and film screenings on everything from how female superheroes are portrayed differently in Japanese and American comics, to indigenous mythology in The Incredible Hulk, to the future of the printed book in the age of mobile and digital technology. And much, much more!

June 13-16
New West Campus
Free registration for Douglas students

The first three days feature interactive workshops that invite the audience to participate in making, testing and using comics.

Thursday, June 13, is Student Day, which features roundtable conversations, a hands-on seminar/teach-in, film screenings and a special forum: "Comics, Computers, and the Future of the Humanities," 5:30-7pm, room 2201.

Don't miss the keynote speakers:
  • Sarah Leavitt, Vancouver author and cartoonist, whose graphic memoir, Tangles, is about  her experience with her mother’s Alzheimer’s
  • Bart Beaty, renowned comics scholar and head of the English Department at the University of Calgary
There will also be an exhibit at the Amelia Douglas Gallery (till June 28, free) called "Sequential Investigations: The New Comics," featuring drawings, comics, and installations from an international group of comics artists.

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend the conference. Douglas students can register for free, and discount rates are available for Douglas faculty and other post-secondary students in the Lower Mainland. See the list of conference fees.

View the full program or read more about the conference. Register now!

*Come back to this blog tomorrow for an in-depth interview with Douglas College conference organizers/comics experts Brenna Clarke Gray, Peter Wilkins and David N. Wright on why you'll love this event, and the changing nature of academic conferences.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

EVENT garners nominations for literary awards

EVENT, Douglas College's literary journal, has some pretty cool stuff to boast about! Check out the awards and accolades garnered by recent stories and poems featured in EVENT:

  • Doretta Lau's story "How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun" (first published in EVENT 41/1) has been selected to appear in the forthcoming Journey Prize Stories 25 and is in the running for the $10,000 Writers' Trust of Canada/McClelland; Stewart Journey Prize. 
  • Libby Zeleke was voted winner of the 2013 CNFC Readers' Choice Award for her non-fiction story "We Were Punk Rockers" (first published in EVENT 41/3, and a winner of EVENT's 2012 Non-Fiction Contest). 
  • EVENT magazine again came up big in the National Magazine Awards this year: Craig Davidson's story "Friday Night Goon Squad" (first published in EVENT 41/2) is a Finalist in the Fiction Category, and Sina Queyras's long poem "The Dead Ones" (first published in EVENT 41/3) is a Finalist in the Poetry Category. Winners will be announced in Toronto on June 7. Keep your fingers crossed! 

This follows on the heels of EVENT's back-to-back Gold and Silver Award wins at both the 2012 and 2011 National Magazine Awards, and our 2012 and 2010 wins in the Fiction Category at the Western Magazine Awards! EVENT can now boast it brings its readers the very best in contemporary Canadian fiction.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Douglas College Concert Band ups student's music skills

By Julie Wright

For the past year, I have been playing as a community member with the Douglas College Concert Band and I've been having a great time. I think this is a fantastic opportunity for young people like me and I want to get the word out.

I didn't think that Douglas would take a high school student as a community member, but when my band teacher at NWSS, Ms. Proznick, recommended that I do it, I really wanted to give it a try.

As a community member, I attend the rehearsals each Wednesday evening, and play all the concerts. I play clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor sax and violin. That sounds like a lot of instruments, but the first three are very closely related so it's fairly easy to go between them.

I thought it would be a good chance to play clarinet in a more advanced band because, like most high school bands, the students who are not really into music get distracted easily. That is really annoying! Plus any college band would be playing at a higher level.

One thing I noticed when I first began attending rehearsals was that rehearsals were much more efficient - everyone works hard and plays hard. I improved because the music was more challenging and that forced me to practise more. Outside of the band rehearsals, I also began to listen to a wider ranger of music as the college band repertoire exposed me to more styles than what I normally play at high school.

I've definitely learned more about my instrument and become more confident. I made some new friends as well and I am really looking forward to coming back to the DC band again next year.

Julie Wright is a Grade 11 student at New Westminster Senior Secondary. DC Concert Band and Jazz Band can be taken for credit by non-music students at Douglas, or you may join as a community member. Advanced high school students may join as community members on the recommendation of their band director and approval of their parents. Email John Van Deursen or call 604 562 7553 for more information.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Creative Writing instructor's book short listed for literary prize


Bull Head, the first collection of short stories by John Vigna, Douglas College Creative Writing and Print Futures instructor, has made the short list for the 2012 Danuta Gleed Literary Award.

The award recognizes the best first English-language collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2012. The award consists of cash prizes for the three best first collections, with a first prize of $10,000 and two additional prizes of $500.

The winners will be announced June 11.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Zambia interns step into the unknown with Global Leadership Program

Off to Zambia: from left: Mia Rushton, Iloradanon Efimoff, Jessie Visser, Amy Bunnage, Sarah Khan, Ann Wilson, Bruce Biro, Ferron Shea, Rachel Halldorson, Katherine Yu. 

By Eliot Dix James

Ilorandanon Efimoff has wanted to “go somewhere and build a school” for a long time. Now, the ESL tutor, who studies Psychology and Gender Relations, will teach at a community school in Zambia.

She is one of 10 students participating in Douglife’s Global Leadership Program. The students headed to Africa last week after finishing their pre-departure training.

They were primed with cultural information and coping skills. And yet they didn’t know exactly what they would be doing, or how they would do it, until after they got there.

“If I was tutoring someone in Canada, I’d feel prepared, but it’s going to be a completely different cultural experience,” said Ilorandanon before the trip. “You need to listen to the students and understand where they’re coming from before you can go in and teach.”

Stepping into the unknown is part of what makes the program so powerful for students.

“The goal is that the students get immersed in a very different world that challenges their values and beliefs,” says Scott Fraser-Dauphinee, Campus Life Coordinator. “It’s not meant to be easy. We throw them into these internships where it’s not all clear.”

The interns have to navigate a whole new set of cultural values in order to get things done, says Fraser-Dauphinee.

Bruce Biro also felt like he was jumping in at the deep end. He just graduated from the Sport Science program and is interning with the Ministry of Youth and Sport Development in Zambia. He’s working with kids and coaches, which he’s used to. But he’s also taking an administrative role — which is way out of his comfort zone.

“I want to be challenged and I want to be given responsibility,” Bruce said. “I feel by doing this I might gain some perspective on what I want to do and who I am on a very personal level.”

The students, who are placed with local organizations according to their skills and interests, have support. Upon arriving, they have an orientation, and then work with supervisors and the program coordinators during their internships. They also have in-service training after one month.

The students contribute to grassroots organizations with few resources. Their goal is to develop something — for example, a tutoring program — that will have a lasting impact after they leave.

Bruce, who plans on becoming a phys ed teacher, says he thinks his internship will open up career opportunities in program development. Ilorandanon hopes to decide if she will pursue gender issues on an international level.

Students who take the program sometimes come away with a completely new idea about what they want to do with their lives, Fraser-Dauphinee says. But he feels the most significant changes happen on a personal level.

“When they come back they’ve experienced the world in another person’s shoes,” says Fraser-Dauphinee. “Inevitably that causes a lot of changes in how these people see the world — in the development of patience, tolerance and empathy.”

Follow the students as they blog about their experiences in Zambia.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Douglas College students create new community group for writers in Richmond

By Jerrie Lynn Morrison

Sometimes you just have to do things yourself, and that’s not such a bad thing.

Faced with a social media project for our Public Relations Writing course, a few Print Futures: Professional Writing classmates and I chose to promote a grassroots writers' group in Richmond. The problem we faced was that the writers' groups listed on the city’s community Arts, Culture and Heritage webpage were inactive. It’s hard to promote a group that doesn’t exist.

So we created our own and formed Richmond Writes Out Loud! an open mic for creative writers.

We created a plan to promote the new group using social media and traditional media, setting up a website, as well as a Twitter account and a Facebook page.

We distributed a press release to announce the launch of the new group, and a media alert to remind the press a few days prior to the first event.

Our public relations campaign was a success, and we generated coverage in the Richmond Review and the Richmond News.

We had a nice turnout for the launch of our inaugural open mic event at the Richmond Public Library in March. The open mic featured a diverse group of speakers, representing all generations, a variety of cultural backgrounds and an assortment of literary genres.

Some highlights from our first event:

  • our youngest speaker was only 15 years old! 
  • topics included relationships, local history, language, pop culture, politics and more 
  • at least three types of poetry were presented: traditional, slam and mash-up 

We also heard short stories, as well as excerpts from longer works of fiction and non-fiction.

Our second open mic in April attracted even more creative writers who live in Richmond, and community enthusiasm for continuing the group is strong.

Richmond Writes Out Loud! is for novice, emerging and experienced creative writers, with an emphasis on sharing creative works via the spoken word. The group was founded by part-time Print Futures students Eric Wilkins (president), Jill Neumann (event coordinator), Jerrie Lynn Morrison (membership coordinator), and by recent Print Futures: Professional Writing graduate Avalon Doyle (media relations coordinator), who completed the Douglas College program as a full-time student.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

BBA grad one of top Chartered Accountant students in Canada

Kent Kallberg Photography
She passed her chartered accountancy UFE exam with flying colours, earning her a place among the top 50 CA students in Canada, and on B.C.’s UFE honour roll. What’s more, the Douglas College alum is the only student on the honour roll who did not graduate from a research university. But there’s more to Erin Reimer than just numbers.

Chartered Accounting designation, CA School of Business, 2013
Bachelor of Business Administration – Accounting, Douglas College, 2010

Senior Accountant, Assurance & Advisory, Deloitte

The secret to my success
“I worked my butt off! It actually wasn’t even on my radar to finish that well on the UFE. But I had a good study partner and we worked really hard. Also, my family has been really supportive. Last summer while I was studying it was really important for me to take weekends off so that I didn’t burn out. So my husband sat down and planned stuff for us to do pretty much every weekend so that I wouldn’t be tempted to study.”

My job is more than digits
“It’s not just sitting there and punching numbers. I deal with a wide range of clients and industries. I’m not in the office that often. I’m usually out at a client site working there for a couple of weeks at a time and then moving onto the next one. So I get to meet a lot of different people.”

Creative outlet
“I have a food blog. I enjoy cooking and baking, and it’s kind of been a stress relief thing for me. Going through as much school as I have, I needed an outlet. So that was something I found that I really enjoyed doing and seemed to have a knack for.”

Taking it on the road
“I wouldn’t mind doing a secondment in another country. I know that Deloitte offers that opportunity to their employees. That would involve transitioning to another office for a period of maybe six weeks to two years. A lot of people from Deloitte end up going to Australia. I have a co-worker who is actually in the Cayman Islands right now.”

The Douglas advantage
“The small class sizes were really beneficial because you could build one-on-one relationships with your instructors. The work experience component of the program – I had to work while I was in school – also really helped, because once you start the CA School Business you are working full time and taking really demanding courses. So having that experience of balancing work and school and life at Douglas really helped me successfully transition to working at Deloitte and studying to get my CA designation.”


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

'Stinks and Bangs' brings game show science to Douglas May 17

If you've ever wondered what it looks like to see the brightest scientific minds at Douglas College on stage for one show, you'd better not miss Stinks and Bangs: Game Show Science. 

See, hear and feel the wonders of science with the instructors from our Faculty of Science and Technology executing magical colour changes, firing off exploding balloons, having fun with food and more. 

This is a chance for you to experience the lighter side of science and learn a thing or two about what can happen when you mix intelligence and fun into a beaker of showmanship. 

"Many young students aren’t aware of some of the potential career paths that are available to them in science & technology," said Brian Chapell, Associate Dean of the Science and Technology faculty at the College. "Stinks and Bangs gives them a chance to discover the lighter side of science while getting a great introduction to what Douglas College can offer them."

The free show gets going at 1:30 on May 17 in the New Westminster Campus theatre. For more information, contact Brian Chapell at 

We also offer information sessions to help you get to know the programs in our Science and Technology faculty. Register today!