Kathleen Venema

Kathleen Venema Title: Associate Professor
Office: 2A34
Building: Ashdown
Phone: 204.786.9333
Email: k.venema@uwinnipeg.ca

I received both my undergraduate degrees (B.Ed. Secondary Pattern; B.A. Hons English) from the University of Winnipeg and both my graduate degrees (M.A. Language and Professional Writing; Ph.D. Language and Literature) from the University of Waterloo. My previous research, on early Canadian literature, especially exploration writing and imperial women’s epistolary writing, has evolved into an inquiry into narratives of illness, aging, disability, and care. My current scholarship considers the intersection of auto/biography, life writing, comics, memory, and critical disabilities studies, and among other focuses, examines how autobiographical texts – especially graphic texts – of aging, disability, dementia, and care navigate religious traditions and spiritual practices as they narrate end-of-life meaning-making. My 2018 critical memoir examines how issues related to international development, spiritually-grounded commitments to social justice, and loss associated with dementia’s devastations are negotiated in epistolary discourse.

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


(W) ENGL-3920-001 Representations of Disability

Bird-Bent Grass: A Memoir, in Pieces. Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2018. 354 pp. (Short-listed for the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-fiction. Audiobook in progress 2020)

“Graphic Narratives of Ageing and End-of-Life.” For the Bloomsbury Handbook of Ageing in Contemporary Literature and Film, edited by Sarah Falcus, Heike Hartung, and Raquel Medina, Bloomsbury. In progress.

“Perfect Correspondence: Remembering the Archived Mother.” Forthcoming in Lifewriting Annual: Biographical and Autobiographical Studies, vol. 5. In press. Anticipated fall 2020.

“Remembering Forgetting: Graphic Lives at the End of the Line.” Life Writing Outside the Lines: Gender and Genre in the Americas, edited by Eva C. Karpinski and Ricia Anne Chansky, Routledge, 2020, pp. 169-189.

“‘And then, nothing’: Alzheimer’s Archives and the Good (Enough) Death.” Death Studies, special issue on “Life's end: Ethnographic perspectives,” vol. 42, no. 5, 2018, pp. 298-305.

“Untangling the Graphic Power of Tangles: A Story about Alzheimer’s, My Mother and Me.” Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives, edited by Candida Rifkind and Linda Warley, Wifrid Laurier UP, 2016, pp. 45-74. (Canadian Graphic was awarded the 2016 Gabrielle Roy Prize, which honours the best book of Canadian literary criticism written in English.)