Course Instructors | College of Arts

Course Instructors

MFA Coordinator and Plenary Instructor
Catherine Bush

Associate Professor, Full Time Faculty

catherine bushCatherine Bush is the author of four novels. Accusation (2013) was one of NOW magazine’s Best Ten Books of 2013, an Amazon.ca Best Book and a Canada Reads Top 40 pick. Claire’s Head (2004) was shortlisted for the Trillium Award and chosen as a Best Book of the Year by the Globe and Mail. The Rules of Engagement (2000), a national bestseller, was published internationally, shortlisted for the City of Toronto Book Award, and chosen as a New York Times Notable Book and a Best Book of the Year by the LA Times and the Globe and MailMinus Time (1993), her first novel, also published in the U.S. and the U.K., was shortlisted for the SmithBooks/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the City of Toronto Book Award.

Bush’s fiction, praised for its intelligence and daring, often plumbs moral quandaries in which the public and private lives of its characters collide. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in publications including the Globe and MailThe New York Times Magazine, the literary magazine Brick and the anthology, The Heart Does Break. Bush has a degree in Comparative Literature from Yale University, has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, has held a variety of Writer-in-Residence positions and taught Creative Writing at universities including Concordia, the University of Florida, the University of Guelph, and in the University of British Columbia’s low-residency MFA. She lives in Toronto and is the Coordinator of the Creative Writing MFA at the University of Guelph. 

catherinebush.com


Poetry and Prose Instructor
Dionne Brand

Professor, Teaching and Supervising Faculty

dionne brandDionne Brand, Professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies, is a renowned poet, novelist, and essayist. Her writing is notable for the beauty of its language, and for its intense engagement with issues of social justice. She was Poet Laureate of the City of Toronto 2009-2012 and has received the Harbourfront Festival Prize for her contribution to the world of books and writing.

An award-winning poet, Dionne Brand won both the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Trillium Prize for Literature for her volume Land to Light On. Among her works the volumes No Language Is Neutral and Inventory respectively were nominated for the GG. She has won the Pat Lowther Award for poetry for her volume thirsty, which was also nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Toronto Book Award and the Trillium prize for literature. Her work of Poetry, Ossuaries won the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize.

As a novelist, Brand has also achieved distinction. Her critically acclaimed novel, What We All Long For, won the Toronto Book Award. Her latest novel, Love Enough was short listed for the Trillium Prize for Literature, 2015. Her fiction includes the novel In Another Place, Not Here, a New York Times notable book, and At the Full and Change of the Moon, a Los Angeles Times Notable Book.

Brand’s non-fiction works include Bread Out Of Stone, and A Map to the Door of No Return, which, has been widely taken up in scholarly work on Being in the Black Diaspora.

dionnebrand.ca


Drama Instructor
Judith Thompson

Professor, Teaching and Supervising Faculty

thompsonPlaywright, director, actor and professor of theatre, Judith Thompson is the author of 17 published and produced plays, including The Crackwalker, I Am YoursLion in the StreetsPerfect PieHabitatPalace of the End and Watching Glory Die, many of which have been produced all over the world in many languages, and Elektra in Bosnia, performed in Hydra and Athens, Greece, as part of 2012 international Women & War Project. She has also authored two feature films, Perfect Pie and Lost and Delirious, as well as several made-for-TV movies, including Life With Billy and Turning to Stone.

Recently, as artistic director of the rare theatre, she created the play Borne, with nine performers who are wheelchair users, and the year before Rare with nine performers with Down Syndrome, which was a Patrons’ Pick and won the Ed Mirvish Entrepreneur Award at the Toronto Fringe Festival; both plays enjoyed sold out runs at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. In 2011 she created and directed The Grace Project: SICK! with 14 youth with self-described disabilities. In 2006 she created Body and Soul with 14 older women telling their own stories in their own words, which played to sold-out houses at the Young Centre and the Tarragon Theatre and at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.  

Judith Thompson has won the Governor General’s Award twice, the Chalmers, the Dora, the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts, the Toronto Arts Award, the Canadian Author’s Association Award, the Herbert Whittaker Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award and the Amnesty International Award for Freedom of Expression. She received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. She has been a professor of theatre at the University of Guelph since 1993. She lives in Toronto with her husband, two dogs, two cats and some of her five children (when they are not at school or in far-away countries teaching English).

She has recently been working on an adaptation of Merilyn Symonds The Convict Lover for Theatre Kingston, and an original play inspired by the persecution and suicide of Reteah Parsons, as well as rare theatre's next project.


Creative Nonfiction Instructor
Karen Connelly

Teaching and Supervising Associated Faculty

connellyAuthor of eleven books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, Karen Connelly has been called “one of Canada’s smartest, fiercest and most intrepid writers.” An outspoken human rights activist, a polyglot, a provocateur, she has lived in Thailand, Spain, France, and Greece, travelled in the Middle East and North Africa, and spent extended periods of time on the Thai-Myanmar border. Three of her books have explored the struggles of Burmese political prisoners, dissidents, and refugees. 

Her other home is the Greek island of Lesvos, where she has fundraised for Starfish, a Greek first-responder organization that works with refugees. She has also fundraised and done outreach work for PEN Canada. 

She is the author of the acclaimed novel The Lizard Cage, winner of Britain’s Orange Broadband New Novelist’s Prize and shortlisted for the U.S.’s Kiriyama Prize. The New York Times Book Review compared this prison novel to the works of Orwell, Mandela and Solzhenitsyn. Her most recent book is The Change Room, published by Random House in 2017. The Change Room has been called “revolutionary” and “boundary-breaking” in its treatment of women’s lives and sexuality. In 2019 she will publish a collection of her award-winning essays.

Her writings have been translated into and published in sixteen languages. She lives with her family in Toronto. 

karenconnelly.ca


Fiction Instructor
Russell Smith

Teaching and Supervising Associated Faculty

russellRussell Smith was born in South Africa and raised in Halifax. His first novel, How Insensitive, was nominated for the Trillium Book Award, the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and the Governor General's award for fiction. Young Men, a short-story collection, was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award, an honour shared with his novel Muriella Pent (also nominated for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and named as a 2004 best book by the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and Quill & Quire). His most recent book is Confidence, a collection of short stories (also shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize). He works regularly with the CBC and writes as a cultural commentator for the Globe and Mail. He lives in Toronto.


Fiction Instructor
Michael Winter

Teaching and Supervising Associated Faculty

Image of Michael Winter.Michael Winter was born in England but has spent most of his life in Newfoundland. While growing up in Corner Brook, he tried his hand at a diverse cross-section of occupations including: paperboy, trap-shoot operator, and city planner. Writing won out. He published two collections of short stories, Creaking in Their Skins, and One Last Good Look. His debut novel, This All Happened, was nominated for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and won the Winterset Award. Nominated for the Atlantic Book Awards’ Thomas Raddall Fiction Prize and Ontario’s Trillium Book Award, his second novel, The Big Why, is a historical work that details the American painter Rockwell Kent’s time in Brigus, Newfoundland. Recent books include: The Architects are Here, and The Death of Donna Whalen, a documentary fiction based on a murder that occurred in St. John's, Minister Without Portfolio, and Into the Blizzard: Walking the Fields of the Newfoundland Dead. Winter currently splits his time between St. John’s and Toronto.


Poetry Instructor
Kevin Connolly

Teaching and Supervising Associated Faculty

Image of Kevin Connolly.Kevin Connolly is a poet, journalist, and editor. He is the author of five collections of poetry: Asphalt Cigar (1995), Happyland (2002), Drift (2005), which was the winner of the Trillium Book Award, Revolver (2008), which was shortlisted for the Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize, and Xiphoid Process (2017). Connolly lives in Toronto with his partner, writer Gil Adamson.