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Strengths | Journals | Writer-in-Residence | Library | City of Fredericton | Student Services | History 

Departmental Strengths

Creative Writing

qwertyThe Department of English boasts accomplished creative writers in Lucas Crawford (poetry), Len Falkenstein (drama), Triny Finlay (poetry),  Rob Gray (film and fiction), Mark Anthony Jarman (fiction and creative non-fiction), Ross Leckie (poetry), Sue Sinclair (poetry) on the Fredericton campus and Robert Moore (poetry and drama) at Saint John.  Several creative writers have been appointed Honorary Research Associates (HRAs) in English and are available to advise graduate students on their thesis projects; they include Gerry Beirne, Anne Compton, Travis Lane, Kathleen McConnell, Sharon McCartney, Eden Robinson, Matt Robinson and Anne Simpson. Each year, approximately half of the students admitted to our MA program enrol in our unique, nationally recognized Creative Writing option. We have now begun to offer a Creative WRiting stream in our PhD in English. Numerous graduates have published books based on their MA theses with respected Canadian publishers shortly after graduating from our Creative Writing programme. 

Canadian and Postcolonial Literature

UNB’s early place at the forefront of Canadian and Commonwealth/postcolonial literature studies, combined with its outstanding current faculty and library resources, make it an attractive place for graduate students to take courses and undertake research in these areas.  Several faculty actively research in the areas of Canadian and/or postcolonial literature, including Jennifer Andrews, John Ball, David Creelman, Gwendolyn Davies (retired), Len Falkenstein, Ross Leckie, Robert Moore, Wendy Robbins, and several Honorary Research Associates. With recent theses running the gamut from an ecocritical approach to Don McKay’s poetry to an examination of history in West Indian women’s fiction to a study of feminist humour in Canadian women's fiction to youth in contemporary Atlantic Canadian fiction, the Department of English offers wide-ranging options for innovative and adventurous research in these fields.

Early Modern Studies

In addition to our traditional strengths in Canadian literature and creative writing, UNB is in an excellent position to offer well-supported graduate instruction and supervision in early modern literary studies. The GAU includes three specialists in this area: Randall Martin, Edith Snook, and Sandra Bell. Collectively, these researchers specialize in several related areas: sixteenth- and seventeenth-century book and manuscript culture; textual theory and scholarly and electronic editing; women's writing, and Renaissance drama and theatre, in particular Shakespeare and Jonson. The Department’s early modern specialists also offer particular strength in research into gender and women’s literary history, with ongoing editorial, critical and cultural history projects in this area. Department members are part of the Atlantic Medieval and Early Modern Group, which supports the study of early modern culture in Atlantic Canada.

American Literature

Stephen Schryer works on post-World War II American fiction, African-American writing, and twentieth-century U.S. intellectual history.  Jennifer Andrews studies native North American culture and literature.  Ross Leckie publishes on modern and postmodern American poets, such as Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Ashbery.  Robert Moore, a  poet and playwright based at our St. John campus, researches twentieth-century American literature and postmodern fiction. 

Journals at UNB

Journals have always had a strong presence at UNB. English Studies in Canada, the journal of the Association of Canadian College University Teachers of The Fiddlehead logoEnglish (ACCUTE), was edited here during its first ten years (1975-1985). Several members of the Department serve on editorial boards of prestigious journals, and currently the Department is home to three journals of its own--The Fiddlehead, Studies in Canadian Literature, and Qwerty--in addition to being the temporary home of Florilegium 

The Fiddlehead is Canada’s oldest publishing “little magazine” of stories, poetry and reviews. After 60 years of continuous publication, The Fiddlehead continues to prosper under its editor Ross Leckie. Graduate students are encouraged to participate in the production of The Fiddlehead by reading fiction and poetry and responding to submissions.

SLC logoStudies in Canadian Literature/ Études en littérature canadienne is a bilingual, biannual refereed journal that publishes on all topics and periods in Canadian literature. It is edited by Cynthia Sugars of the University of Ottawa, with editorial assistance performed by graduate students at UNB. It publishes occasional special issues, including Writing Canadian Space in 1998, Past Matters in 2002 and Canadian Poetry in 2005. Each year, one or two graduate students serve as editorial assistants.

Qwerty is an award-winning literary journal that features work by established and emerging writers. This publication is run entirely by UNB English’s graduate students, and provides experience in the fields of editing, managing, publishing, web design, and advertising.


The Writer-in-Residence for Fall 2017 term is Kerry-Lee Powell.


Library phohoThe Harriet Irving Library has strong resources for scholarly investigation and orders significant works of poetry, fiction, drama, literary biography, criticism, and theory as they are published.  The library’s holdings in nineteenth- and twentieth-century materials are strong, as are its holdings of primary and secondary materials in Renaissance literature and drama.  UNB Archives and Special Collections holds the Rufus Hathaway Collection of Canadian Literature, much of the original correspondence of Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, and papers of other Canadian writers, such as Fred Cogswell and David Adams Richards. It also offers a very good inter-library loan service and a wide range of electronic databases. The Centre for Digital Scholarship is a leader in electronic scholarly publishing and humanities computing.

The City of Fredericton

Fredericton is situated along the St. John River. Its downtown features wide streets, splendid trees, and nineteenth-century homes and public buildings. The presence of UNB, St. Thomas University, and The New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, as well as the high concentration of civil servants and employees of various regional offices, creates a large audience for varied cultural events. Residents of Fredericton can look forward to the annual Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, the Alden Nowlan Literary Festival and the Silver Wave Film Festival in the fall and the NotaBle Acts Summer Festival in August, co-founded by our Director of Drama, Len Falkenstein, and which frequently features productions of plays written by our graduate Creative Writing students. The city sustains a number of public and commercial art galleries as well as film societies and an active film co-op. It is home to a professional theatre company in Theatre New Brunswick, and the literary tradition is very much alive, with many active writers, workshops, and public readings, both on and off campus. Each year, the faculty at UNB invite eminent Canadian writers to participate in the Department’s reading series.

Fredericton phohoFredericton is home to a number of beautiful parks, including the 400-acre Odell Park. Over 50 km of multi-purpose trails run throughout the city and include a bridge across the St. John River. In the summer, canoes and kayaks can be rented on the waterfront. On Saturday mornings, year-round, the Boyce Farmer’s Market is the place to be. New Brunswick and the Maritimes offer a richness of cultures, landscapes, and seascapes; Halifax, Boston, Ottawa, and Montreal are all within range of a day’s drive. Nearby attractions outside Fredericton include Mactaquac Provincial Park and King’s Landing Historical Settlement. For more information about Fredericton, including gallery and restaurant listings, special events, public libraries and bus schedules, visit the city’s website.

Student Services


UNB Residential Life provides information about on-campus housing for graduate students at Magee House and the Elizabeth Parr-Johnston Residence

Other Services

The University offers an extensive recreation, intramural, and intercollegiate athletic program. Athletic facilities include gymnasia, squash/racquetball courts, swimming pool, conditioning room, dance studio, tennis courts, playing fields, athletic injuries clinic, ice arena, and locker rooms. A variety of computing services are available to students, including word processing, printing, and email. Counseling services are offered on campus free of charge to all full-time and part-time students, including personal and career counseling and workshops. Professional childcare for children 3 months to 12 years old is available right next to the UNB campus through the non-profit College Hill Daycare. UNB Student Employment Service provides assistance to students looking for permanent, part-time or summer employment. The Student Health Centre offers nursing and physician services, and the International Student Advisor provides orientation, counseling, and information to all non-Canadian students and their families.

A Vibrant Tradition

The UNB graduate program in English owes a great deal to the imaginative drive of the late Dr. W. C. D. Pacey, Head of the Department from 1944 to 1970. By his own teaching and publications, and by the hiring of faculty members in Renaissance literature, as well as in the then-developing fields of Commonwealth and Canadian literature, Professor Pacey established these areas as the abiding strengths of the department.

Cogswell photoDesmond Pacey also promoted creative writing at all levels, drawing upon a literary tradition associated with the University since its founding - from the Loyalist poet Jonathan Odell to Bliss Carman, Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, and the young Alden Nowlan and Fred Cogswell. The latter returned from the Second World War to become one of Pacey’s students and later a colleague who made his own major contribution to Canadian letters. Cogswell was part of a literary group led by the historian, ethnographer, and poet Alfred Bailey - later Dean of Arts at UNB - who founded The Fiddlehead, Canada’s most durable literary magazine. While publishing his own poetry in many volumes, Cogswell edited The Fiddlehead, founded Fiddlehead Poetry Books, and served on the boards of numerous national cultural organizations. Taking over (in publishing) where Fred Cogswell left off, Peter Thomas founded Goose Lane Editions, now a flourishing literary press, in 1981. This direct interest in living artists and concern for contemporary cultural affairs has characterized English studies at UNB ever since.

Roberts photoThe Department of English at UNB was one of the first in Canada to offer courses in Canadian literature at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The first Master’s degree here on a Canadian subject was awarded in 1940. Since then, major research projects have included the editing of the letters of Frederick Philip Grove undertaken by graduate students and the editing of the complete poems of Sir Charles G. D. Roberts - the first scholarly edition of the poems of any Canadian poet. Notable editorial projects in Canadian literature have included William Wilfred Campbell: Selected Poetry and Essays (1987), The Collected Letters of Sir Charles G. D. Roberts (1989), and a critical edition of George Ryga’s The Ecstasy of Rita Joe (1998).

UNB was also one of the first universities in Canada to offer courses in West Indian and African literatures at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The library is strong in both areas. The first PhD on West Indian literature was awarded in 1966, and since then there have been numerous MA and PhD theses on African, West Indian, and South Asian Post-Colonial writing. Because Canada is part of the Commonwealth, the study of the literatures of other Commonwealth nations complements the study of Canadian literature.

Pacey PhohoThe University of New Brunswick has a long tradition of Creative Writing, dating from the Fred Cogswell times of Bliss Carman and Sir Charles G. D. Roberts. From the 1940s through to the1980s, the program was distinguished by Alfred Bailey, Fred Cogswell, Desmond Pacey, Elizabeth Brewster, Dalton Camp, and Robert Gibbs. In the early 1990s the program centred around Jan Zwicky, Bill Gaston, and Director Don McKay, a two-time Governor General’s Award winner for poetry. Current Director of Creative Writing Ross Leckie is the author of three books of poetry, and his work has been published widely in journals throughout Canada and the United States. He is co-editor of Coastlines: The Poetry of Atlantic Canada. The department also boasts accomplished specialists in fiction, playwriting, and screenwriting. Past graduates of the Creative Writing MA programme include such award-winning writers as Wayne Johnston, Frances Itani, Rabindranath Maharaj, matt robinson, and Sue Sinclair.

Graduate courses in creative writing are taught by a workshop method. This involves writers in class critiquing each other’s work and developing their craft by sharpening their editorial skills in relation to their own work.

As well as providing a solid academic background, the Department of English encourages the professional development of its graduate students. To that end, the Department sponsors a series of workshops, colloquia, and readings. Workshops explore topics such as career opportunities for graduates, post-doctoral studies, publishing, and funding.

Informal colloquia enable graduate students to exchange scholarly ideas, read from their works (both completed and in-progress), and to try out conference papers in an intellectual climate similar to that of the professional academic world. Editorial and production work on the Department’s journals also provides valuable professional experience to students.