An Update, and Some Academic Editing & Proofreading

I started this blog as a PhD candidate in English & Cultural Studies at McMaster University. During my degree, I worked as a TA, a Senior Writing Assistant at McMaster’s Student Success Centre, and a freelance copy editor and proofreader. In the final year of my degree, I also started full-time as an Educational Consultant at the McMaster Institute for Innovation & Excellence in Teaching & Learning.

Working as an Educational Consultant was a great opportunity. It was a new avenue to explore after completing my dissertation investigating the pedagogical dimensions of canonical Asian Canadian literary texts, and it allowed me to continue doing the type of thinking-out-loud that I’ve been doing through this blog. But Dry-Erase Writings, and my love of working with writers as both a writing advisor and freelance editor, also attest to the satisfaction playing with language gives me.

So I’m committing myself to working in both fields: as a freelance editor and educational consultant. As an editor and proofreader, I work with businesses, scholars, researchers, and web content providers. If you want to know more about the editing & writing services I provide, please visit

This means that Dry-Erase Writings is officially on hiatus. Maybe I’ll come back to it, but I can’t pretend to myself any longer that I’m somehow going to start posting regularly again. I think this also means that the post-PhD era can be a strange sort of timescape to step into. This has been the case for me, anyway, because time really does feel like a different thing these days, now that the dissertation stress, and the stress of working too many jobs at once while underfunded in my fifth year, has sloughed off. I’m thinking of a University Affairs piece I read recently called “Certainty and Time.” It’s a brief and well-measured piece about stepping off the academic career track, and it’s a good one.

It’s time to take some time.


Colouring Stages of Concern at STLHE

We were in what looked like an elementary or high school biology classroom. I looked up; the ceiling tiles were painted accordingly. My lips twitched into a smile, an eyebrow arched tile-ward: directly above me was a detailed painting of sperm en route to an egg at the tile’s centre.

felt pensThe Society for Teaching & Learning in Higher Education’s (STLHE) annual conference was housed this year in Duncan McArthur Hall at Queen’s University, which happens to be the home of the university’s Faculty of Education. Each of the sessions I attended over the course of my two-day stay in Kingston, Ontario, were in classrooms like the one described above. To some of my colleagues, the setting was familiar. They had attended teacher’s college in similar settings. For me, the colorful posters covering the walls, the diorama and terraria littering window sills and shelves, and the abundance of tools needed for making such visual displays all sat in quiet conversation with the thinking, learning, and reflection prompted in me by the excellent sessions I attended, and the thoughtful people I met.

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What Am I Not Hearing?

IMAG0647Hey, so I take  my cat for walks. Not on a leash. I just leave the yard and head out into the long grass that surrounds it, and he takes off. He sticks pretty close, except for when we get too close to a tree, and then he promptly scampers up it, ears back, a hint of the maniacal to his head whipping left and right, eyes round, tail twitching.

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Cultures of Criticism

Cultures of CriticismThe thinking behind this post began with some of the work done at The Thesis Whisperer– an insightful and immensely readable blog and resource for grad students. Dr. Inger Mewburn’s post about the “chameleon” reaction to criticism got me thinking: how do cultures of scholarship effect the culture of the classroom? Are the two cultures more intimately linked than one might first think? Might the culture of one inhibit the growth of the other? 

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Tonight, tonight! Richard Fung will be in Hamilton with a special preview screening of his latest film! The screening will launch the conference that I and a group of other students and faculty at McMaster have been planning for the past year, called “Working the Frame: Comparative Approaches to Asian Canadian Literature & Culture.” Hope to see you there! Visit to see our full conference program, including the artist-activist panel that will close the conference on Friday night.

Working the Frame

We’re excited to share with you a glimpse of Richard Fung’s latest film, Dal Puri Diaspora, a preview of which will kick off the conference next week:

The recipe for dal puri traveled with indentured workers from India’s Gangetic plain to southern Caribbean colonies of Britain and the Netherlands in the 19th Century. In the 1960s the wrapped roti migrated from Trinidad to North America, where it is known as Caribbean or West Indian roti and is popular in cities like New York and Toronto. As the dish moved from home fire to street stall to restaurant chain, and from festival to fast food, the flatbread was radically transformed in ingredients, cooking method, ways of eating and identity. Shot in Toronto, Trinidad and India, this documentary tracks dal puri’s remarkable passage across space and time, linking colonialism, migration and the globalization of tastes. The documentary features interviews with leading…

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the centre for…

I scrapped a number of perfectly terrible domain names for this blog before arriving at “Dry-Erase Writings.” Titles like “The Centre for Learning How not to Be the Worst Teacher Ever”– to be shortened rather eloquently, I think, to CLHBWTE– just didn’t seem to roll off the tongue in the way I thought they would.

The numerous “Centres” that have sprung up in Universities across Canada–for learning, teaching, leadership, excellence, innovation, insert-catch-phrase-here, etc-supply the framework for this project. At McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, teaching and learning support is offered by two “Centres,” the “Student Success Centre” and the “Centre for Leadership and Learning.” Queen’s University in Kingston has a  modestly-titled “Centre for Teaching and Learning,” the University of Waterloo boasts a “Centre for Teaching Excellence,” and, not surprisingly, the University of Toronto outruns ’em all with the longest and arguably swankiest title, “The Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation.”

This blog offers me a site (and others, hopefully) to reflect on what it means to be a Teacher’s Assistant at a Canadian University in the Humanities. I hope to share teaching practices and resources, including handouts and lesson plans that I, as an English Literature TA, have developed and used myself. In my experience, TAs receive little to no training as teachers. This blog is a “centre” for teaching insofar that it attempts to ameliorate that lack of training through an open process of sharing and discussion.

That, however, is where the similarities between this blog and institutional centres for teaching end. Not only can I not profess “excellence” or “innovation” in teaching, but I also cannot so confidently suggest that I could come near to defining either term. What is “teaching excellence,” anyway, when we decide not to measure it by enrollment and monetary standards? What do I want to teach? What do I want students to “take home” from their university classes? And how do I achieve this? What can university educators–TAs and professors alike–learn about teaching outside of the classroom?

Last week in tutorial, students and I discussed how to write an effective conclusion for an English essay. After they finished reading a sample I had written, one student wisely pointed out that it “isn’t exactly conclusive” to conclude with a series of questions. Well, frick, I thought, that’s a bit biting, isn’t it? “You sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about,” another student piped up.  And rightly so, I should add. What the hell am I talking about when I step into tutorial?