Every year, I end up with at least one important book that I think everyone should read.
One of my favourite parts of the academic year is convocation. Not just because it signals the beginning of summer, but because of the opportunity to celebrate our students’ years of hard work. I forget from one year to the next how excited students are at convocation: they recognize what a milestone it is and that it marks the beginning of the next stage of their lives, even if, in some cases, they aren’t sure what that is just yet.
For the third year in a row, I was privileged to be the marshal at all three ceremonies at Laurier’s Brantford campus (one co-hosted with Nipissing University for our Concurrent Education students and then one each for our Faculty of Liberal Arts and Faculty of Human and Social Sciences students). While most, if not all, of the other faculty present at convocation sit on stage, with the rest of the platform party (the university chancellor, president and various distinguished guests), the marshal leads the student procession to convocation (and gets to wield the marshal’s baton, which students always say looks like something from Hogwarts. Expecto, alumni!). At the Brantford campus, this involves a walk through downtown to the Sanderson Centre.
The Laurier Alumni association did a great job of documenting convocation on social media. Here’s a short video of me leading students in the procession to the Sanderson Centre:
We’re always led by a piper:
It’s students as far as the eye can during the procession along Dalhousie Street:
Some of the alumni photographers were really getting into the spirit of celebration with photos of convocation shoes:
They even captured some of the gentlemen’s shoes, which I thought was a nice touch:
Honourary degrees were presented at each of the ceremonies. The Expositor has great write-ups about each of the recipients: Ron Jamieson, co-chair of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal business; Walter Gretzky, Canada’s foremost hockey dad and noted philanthropist and Ursula Franklin, a pioneering scientist, pacifist and feminist.
There’s also a good write-up (and a front-page photo!) about convocation in the new issue of The Sputnik:
Thanks to the many folks who let me know that A Family by Any Other Name was recently reviewed in Curve, the best-selling lesbian magazine. The review wasn’t online last week, when I first heard about it, but I managed to snag a print copy while in Toronto this weekend.
Naturally, the review is now available online, and you can read it here. In the review, William Northup says:
This collection comes from a sometimes brutal but consistently affirming place of honesty, which makes it both fascinating and essential reading.
It’s that time of year again, when the digital media and journalism program at Laurier Brantford posts its part-time teaching positions for the next academic year.
We’re currently looking to staff 12 courses:
- JN202: Cross-Media Storytelling
- JN204: Media, Law and Ethics
- JN208: Issue-Based Research
- JN/MX211: Introduction to Media Studies
- JN214: Political Journalism: Principles and Practice
- JN252: Designing Digital and Social Media
- JN253: Introduction to Public and Media Relations
- JN261: News Photography
- JN/HR312: Advocacy Journalism: Principles and Practice
- JN318: Newsroom I
- JN/MX327: Social Documentary
- JN423: Journalism Capstone
You can find links to job details and course descriptions here (click on postings in the Faculty of Liberal Arts). The deadline to apply is June 9.
In a review that does not appear to be online, author Stacey May Fowles (Infidelity, Be Good) writes:
The rigid expectation of what a “family” should look like is something many of us find stifling as we move toward creating our own. Nowhere is this struggle more keenly felt than in the queer community, which faces social and legal hurdles that make the pursuit of family difficult, impossible, or even dangerous. For this reason, a collection of first-person narratives on queer family is liberating and necessary.
She goes on to write:
In one particularly stunning piece, Dorianne Emmerton candidly reveals the fact that she never had a desire to be a mother, but through a unique set of circumstances is able to be an integral part of a child’s life. “I’m more comfortable now because I realize that, while some people change their lives to focus on their child, it is possible to integrate a child into your life instead.” This book is about exactly that — what is possible in the face of what you’re told is not.
I learned today that the book also got a good review in the new issue of Curve, North America’s best-selling lesbian magazine, but I haven’t seen it yet, so I’ll keep you posted.
While I was in France for the past two weeks, two more great reviews came out for A Family by Any Other Name. (I’m sorry: there’s just no way to write “I was in France for two weeks” without implying “…and you weren’t. Ha!” I tried. I really did.)
The stories are beautiful, without shying away from intelligent critique. They are by turns tragic and joyful….The essays in A Family By Any Other Name are stories of choosing family, of liberation and of acceptance, and all the ways that through work and love we are better off through this thing that we define as family.
The second review was in the Library Journal, a highly respected American magazine by and for librarians. Unfortunately, this review hasn’t made it online yet, but in the print edition, New York librarian Jessica Spears calls the book:
A well-written, inspirational, and light read, recommended especially for those questioning how their queer or non-traditional family fits into society.
Another day, another lovely review of A Family by Any Other Name. This time, it’s from author Maria Meindl (Outside the Box: the Life and Legacy of Writer Mona Gould, the Grandmother I Thought I Knew) on her Body Language blog.
She mentions my book alongside another recent title focused on the family: The M Word: Conversations About Motherhood (in which Meindl has an essay), edited by Kerry Clare, which puts me in very good company indeed.
About A Family by Any Other Name, Meindl says:
There’s an exquisite hopefulness to this book, despite the difficulties many of its contributors have endured. Marriage, parenting, family-building, are presented as fresh and filled with sweetness.
She also notes — quite rightly, I think — that at this point in time,
…the family is seriously in need of renovation. And conversations are part of the repair.
You can read the full post here.
I don’t want to spoil it, but here’s some of what reviewer Julian Gunn had to say:
You should know: this is a good book. The average quality of the essays here is remarkably high. I like to think people who identify as queer take it extra seriously when we set out to tell our stories, but it must also be true that Gillespie is a fine editor who knows how to inspire his contributors. A Family By Any Other Name has a lineage of its own. Gillespie has produced a whole series of anthologies examining the idea of family from all sorts of angles. Full disclosure: I am in one of them. It’s Nobody’s Father: Life Without Kids (2008), co-edited by Lynne Van Luven. A Family By Any Other Name is a substantial addition to the series. It may even be Gillespie’s best.
Read the rest of this very thoughtful review here.
It includes this great quote from contributor Ellen Russell:
Everyone likely needs a little nudge to realize that we all have the potential to be deeply connected with each other. One lovely aspect of these stories is that they illustrate the ways people can connect across all kind of differences. I think that this is hopeful for everyone.
One of the gifts of queer folk is that they have lots of practice overcoming limiting perceptions about how families are ‘supposed to’ work.
I think this inspires everyone to explore new ways of being connected with one another.
You can read the article here.