Kathleen Venema


Kathleen Venema Title: Associate Professor
Office: 2A34
Building: Ashdown
Phone: 204.786.9333


Dr. Kathleen Venema received both her undergraduate degrees (B.Ed. Secondary Pattern; B.A. Hons English) from the University of Winnipeg and both her graduate degrees (M.A. Language and Professional Writing; Ph.D. Language and Literature) from the University of Waterloo.  Her previous research, on early Canadian literature, especially exploration writing and imperial women’s epistolary writing, has evolved into an extended inquiry into narratives of conflict, illness, aging, disability, and care.  Over the past several years, she has developed three new English courses:  (with Dr. Deborah Schnitzer, Professor Emeritus) ENGL-3180 The Making of Peace and War in Literature, an unusual course that includes both experiential learning and activist components; ENGL-3905 Biblical Texts in Literary and Cultural Studies; and ENGL-3920 Representations of Disability in Literary and Cultural Texts. 

In spring 2015, Dr. Venema completed the Walls-to-Bridges Facilitator Training program, in Kitchener, ON, inside the Grand Valley Institution for Women, a multi-security-level federal prison.  The Walls-to-Bridges (W2B) program trains postsecondary instructors to deliver courses inside prisons and jails.  W2B courses are unique because they bring on-campus students into prisons to learn with students who are incarcerated.  They are also unique in their commitment to egalitarian circle pedagogy, which emerges out of Frierian principles, Indigenous pedagogy, decolonizing and intersectional analysis, and feminist anti-racist practice.  In spring 2016, Dr. Venema successfully facilitated ENGL-3717 Indigenous Literatures and Cultures using the Walls-to-Bridges model at the Headingley Women’s Correctional Centre, with seven incarcerated and eight campus-based students. 

Dr. Venema is in the final stages of a critical memoir, forthcoming with Wilfrid Laurier University Press, that examines how issues related to international development; spiritually-grounded commitments to social justice; war; trauma; loss; and loss associated with dementia’s devastations are negotiated in epistolary discourse.  Her next major project will examine representations of difference in dementia narratives, with a particular focus on graphic narratives of dementia.

Teaching areas:  Canadian literature, lifewriting and auto/biographical studies, representations of disability, representations of peace and war, biblical texts in literary and cultural studies

Teaching Areas: Canadian literature, lifewriting and auto/biographical studies, representations of disability, representations of peace and war, biblical texts in literary and cultural studies


(FW) ENGL-1001.6-001 English 1

(FW) ENGL-2142.6-001 Field of Literary and Textual Studies

(W) ENGL-3920.3-001 Representations of Disability


Recent and forthcoming publications:

Venema, Kathleen.  Bird-Bent Grass: A Memoir, in Pieces.  Forthcoming with Wilfrid Laurier University Press, March 2018. 

Venema, Kathleen.  “Untangling the Graphic Power of Tangles:  A Story about Alzheimer’s, My Mother and Me.”  Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives.  Eds. Candida Rifkind and Linda Warley.  Waterloo: Wifrid Laurier UP, 2016.  45-74. 

Venema, Kathleen.  “Perfect Correspondence:  Remembering the Archived Mother.”  Forthcoming.  Lifewriting Annual: Biographical and Autobiographical Studies 5 (2017). Refereed. 

Venema, Kathleen.  “And then, nothing”:  Alzheimer’s Archives and the Good (enough) Death.”  Forthcoming in Death Studies.  Refereed.

Venema, Kathleen.  “‘You can do with all this rambling whatever you want’:  Scrutinizing Ethics in the Alzheimer’s Archives.”  Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace: Explorations in Canadian Women's Archives.  Eds. Linda M. Morra and Jessica Schagerl.  Waterloo:  Wilfred Laurier UP, 2012.  281-301. 

Note:  This paper was nominated for the 2013 Hilda Neatby Prize, which is awarded to an English-language academic article published in Canada during 2012 and deemed to make an original and scholarly contribution to the field of women's and gender history as it relates to women.