English Graduate Student Interviews (IV)

By: Lindsey Seatter & Nadia Timperio

Happy March from the EGSS! We are super jazzed to introduce you to this month’s interview celebrities: Jana Millar-Usiskin and Tom Nienhuis.

Jana Millar-Usiskin
Year of Study: Year 3, Ph.D.
Research focus: The intersections between information theory and twentieth-century modernist aesthetics. My guiding question is something like ‘to what extent did modernist authors’ exposure to the practices, possibilities, and challenges of rapidly changing communication technologies allow them to anticipate mid-twentieth century theoretical approaches to information transmission?

What are your career goals?
This is tough, as my answer changes all the time. Safe to say I want to be content.

What are you reading right now? For work or for pleasure?
All of my reading is for work right now, except for Facebook, and Twitter. But I do listen to tons of podcasts, including Radiolab, This American Life, Philosophy Bites, Serial, and Partially Examined Life . . . to name a few. For work I’m reading Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media and Mark Hansen’s Embodying Technisis, both incredibly challenging and rewarding reads.

Using only three words, describe the English department at UVic.
Such intelligent folks.

Using only three words, describe yourself.
INDESCRIBABLE, also silly.

What cereal or candy brand describes you best?
I have no idea! I’m not particularly sweet . . . let’s go with kamish!

What is your favourite thing to do in Victoria, or what new place have you recently discovered?
I love biking around Beach Dr., near the water. I’m pretty slow (the biker gangs whizz by me), but that means I get to enjoy the views for longer.

Tom Nienhuis
Year of Study: Year 1, M.A.
Research focus: I am interested in both English Romantic writing and cyberpunk fiction. I hope to establish the influence of the Romantic critique of modernity (mechanization, disenchantment, etc.) on cyberpunk writers to articulate a largely-ignored sociopolitical message in cyberpunk literature that preserves its relevance in/to the twenty-first century.

What are your career goals?
I learned nine years ago that I love to teach, so I’m excited to get back into my own classroom as soon as I can. I have taught English at the college level in the past, but lately I’ve been considering the merits of teaching in a high school (namely, the chance to teach literature studies in addition to writing composition).

What are you reading right now? For work or for pleasure?
Reading for pleasure is so first-half-of-2015! Since September I have been reading only as part of my studies, although I am keeping some sci-fi novels by Neal Stephenson on the back burner. I received Fifteen Dogs for Christmas, so I’ll be reading that at some point, too. Right now I’m reading an early Canadian novel called Antoinette de Mirecourt and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. Both are excellent.

Using only three words, describe the English department at UVic.
Kind. Inspiring. Funny!

Using only three words, describe yourself.
I’d rather not.

What cereal or candy? brand describes you best?
I’m going to tweak this question a little. I am defined in large part by my addiction to one food-and-beverage brand: Diet Coke. It’s got the perfect combination of horrifying and unpronounceable chemicals, and no calories!

What is your favourite thing to do in Victoria, or what new place have you recently discovered?
Eating breakfast at Jam (Government and Herald) is a religious experience, and well worth the wait in line. I also enjoy Victoria’s excellent selection of local beers. Fat Tug by Driftwood is the best.

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