English Dept Image

Why We Teach and Why Students Study English

Many of the students in our classrooms today will be doing jobs that don’t yet exist. But, whatever they end up doing, they will probably have to plan, to make decisions, to develop creative ideas and to convince others of the soundness of those plans and ideas. In order to be effective and successful, they will require judgement and the ability to express themselves coherently. And if they are to have a lasting and significant impact, they will require the confidence and the ability to question received wisdom and to look at the problems facing humanity from different perspectives.

We CEGEP English teachers help prepare them for all these challenges. In studying a literary text students approach it in the ambit of enquiry framed by the questions, “What meaning is being imparted?” and “How?” To the extent that they do this seriously, with our encouragement and guidance, they develop judgement, the ability to recognize, decode and evaluate ideas and opinions.

And because the body and soul of thought is its articulation, we help our students develop the skills to express their discoveries and ideas as coherently and convincingly as they possibly can. Along with judgement, the ability to express complex ideas coherently is another of the pillars of education and, indeed, of culture. Here again, the study of English is essential.

In addition, all literature worthy of the name addresses some aspect or aspects of the human condition, most often through situations in times, places and circumstances far beyond the immediate experience of our students. By being exposed to literature and challenged to discover what is to be found there, our students discover the broad tapestry of the human adventure, to much of which they might never otherwise have been exposed. Their realm of enquiry and discovery becomes as wide as the world and as profound as our shared humanity.

When the time does come to formulate plans and make decisions, our former students will be better able to place the questions being addressed into a broad context, a context that takes into account the scope of human history and the complexities of the human adventure.

Of equal importance is our introducing students to particular pleasures. Hopefully, along the way, our students will discover the pleasures of reading, the pleasure of completing the art and reveling in its beauties.

For these reasons and more, we do this job because we consider it completely worthwhile and absolutely fulfilling.

Members of the Department

Thomas Abray :

Thomas Abray

514-457-6610 ext. 5127

Education: BA (McGill, 1993), Dip. Ed. (McGill, 1995), MA (Concordia, 2000)

Selected publications: Pollen (DC Books, 2011) - short fiction

Current and recent courses: The Beach (101), Poem, Prose and Play (102), 18th & 19th Century Literature (103), Brave New World (102), Creative Writing A (cwa) , Creative Writing B (cwb), The Novel (NVL)

Nazareth Arabaghian :

Nazareth Arabaghian

514-457-6610 ext. 5260

Naz likes using words like “ineffable” and “tatterdemalion.”


BA in English and Liberal Arts (Concordia University, 1999)

Masters in English Literature (Queen’s University, 2000)

Masters in Education (University of Sherbrooke, 2015)


English 101: Heroic Journeys
English 101: Mythology
English 102: The Art of Poetry
English 102: Leonard Cohen
English 103: The Romantic Imagination
English 103: Stories and Plays of William Saroyan
English 200: Documenting Barbarism
English 200: Reading, Writing, and Delivering Speeches



Jennifer Beauvais :

Jennifer Beauvais

514-457-6610 ext. 5741

Ann Beer : On Leave

Ann Beer

On Leave
514-457-6610 ext. 5943

Professor Ann Beer has been a member of John Abbott College’s Department of English since 2008. Before that Ann worked for 19 years at McGill University in the Faculty of Education as an Assistant and Associate Professor, as well as teaching at CEGEP-level in the 1980s. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Oxford, (U.K.) as well as a Masters in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto and a Doctorate in English from Oxford. She also has a Graduate Diploma in Education from McGill. At JAC, Ann was involved in setting up the Certificate in Aboriginal Studies, in collaboration with Aboriginal communities, the College Administration and the Aboriginal Students’ Resource Centre. What Ann enjoys most about teaching at JAC is working with students and staff from many cultures, which constantly leads to new areas of learning.

Mark Beers : Writing Chair

Mark Beers

Writing Chair
514-457-6610 ext. 5595

Professor Mark Beers has been a member of John Abbott College¹s Department of English since 2006. He holds a Bachelor degree in Psychology from Colorado State University, as well as a Masters in English Literature from San Francisco State University. At JAC, Professor Beers has served as the English department¹s Writing Chair since 2010.  He has also coordinated the Writing in the Disciplines project at the College.

Valerie Bherer :

Valerie Bherer

514-457-6610 ext. 5971

Helen Binik :

Helen Binik

514-457-6610 ext. 5459

Mathieu Bouchard :

Mathieu Bouchard

514-457-6610 ext. 5453

David Bourgeois :

David Bourgeois

514-457-6610 ext. 5965

Jesse Bouvier : Scheduler

Jesse Bouvier

514-457-6610 ext. 5948

Neil Briffett :

Neil Briffett

514-457-6610 ext. 5316

A graduate of Abbott, I continued my studies at Concordia (B.A., M.A.).  I then worked as a writing specialist at Dawson and Vanier before coming to do the same at JAC. I am a longtime marker of the English Exit Exam and was also an English teacher at Dawson’s New School. My courses run the gamut of subjects from love to war to drinking to song lyrics to something I haven’t thought of yet but most certainly will. I am also a singer/songwriter/guitarist whose bands have played in seemingly every lousy bar in North America – twice.

Andrew Brock : On Leave

Andrew Brock

On Leave
514-457-6610 ext. 5905

Andrew Brock has been a member of John Abbott College's Department of English since 2001. He holds a BA in English Literature, a BFA in Art History, and an MA in English Literature, all from Concordia University.

He enjoys all things dark and scary, and likes to teach courses about them.

Doug Brown :

Doug Brown

514-457-6610 ext. 5572

Patrick Burger :

Patrick Burger

514-457-6610 ext. 5070

Patrick’s favourite quote: "You are a worm, Yyrkoon. But is that your fault?"   Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock

Kirsty Campbell :

Kirsty Campbell

514-457-6610 ext. 5959

Kirsty Campbell earned her BA in English Literature from McGill University, and her MA and PhD from University of Toronto's Centre for Medieval Studies. She has taught at a number of universities in Canada and the US, and she now teaches courses at John Abbott that feature contemporary poetry, British novels, current and seminal works of science fiction, medieval stories of knights, and Shakespearean tragedy.

Geoffrey Cook :

Geoffrey Cook

514-457-6610 ext. 5894

Adil D’Sousa :

Adil D’Sousa

514-457-6610 ext. 5276

Gediminas Dainius Lerner :

Gediminas Dainius Lerner

514-457-6610 ext. 5301

Wendy Eberle :

Wendy Eberle

514-457-6610 ext. 5972

Cindy Edwards :

Cindy Edwards

514-457-6610 ext. 5955

Denise Fidia : On Leave

Denise Fidia

On Leave
514-457-6610 ext. 5484

Raymond Filip :

Raymond Filip

514-457-6610 ext. 5960

NAME: Raymond Filipavicius
BACKGROUND: Writer, Musician, Teacher, Translator, Activist, Athlete, Family Man.

EXPERTISE: The English language.

COURSES TAUGHT: English in Many Tongues, Music and Literature, Journalism: The News as Muse, The Literature of Pacifism, Golf Literature.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:    Since the age of 18, I have made my living as a writer, teacher, and musician under the pen name of Raymond Filip.

Bruce Gilchrist : On Leave

Bruce Gilchrist

On Leave


Bruce joined the English department in Fall 2015. He is an alumnus of Dalhousie University, where he studied Neuroscience, and McGill University, where he took his graduate studies in English Literature. He is a specialist in medieval literature, particularly in first millennium manuscripts in Anglo-Saxon England. He is co-author of the grammar text, Drout's Quick and Easy Old English (2012), and assisted editing The Postmodern Beowulf: A Critical Casebook (2006). He is currently working as co-editor on Beowulf as Children's Literature: Studies in Adaptation; in this forthcoming anthology, he traces the illustrations in these works as they reflect the gendered historical reception of the poem. He also figures he has the world's largest collection of versions of Beowulf adapted for children (75 and counting). Bruce has taught previously at Université Laval, McGill, Carleton, Bishop's, and Concordia, and was a full-time CEGEP professor at Sainte Lawrence College in Québec City for 2.5 years before coming to Abbott. His teaching interests include medieval literature, classics, history of the book, poetry, science and literature, children's literature and cinéma.

Susan Gillis :

Susan Gillis

514-457-6610 ext. 5906

Patricia Gordon : Curriculum Chair

Patricia Gordon

Curriculum Chair
514-457-6610 ext. 5947

I very much enjoy creating and giving courses that offer positive visions of humans' relations with each other and with nature.

Harold Hoefle :

Harold Hoefle

514-457-6610 ext. 5944

Lora Hutchison :

Lora Hutchison

514-457-6610 ext. 5165

Monika Karpinska : On Leave

Monika Karpinska

On Leave
514-457-6610 ext. 5829

Karen Lee :

Karen Lee

514-457-6610 ext. 5987

Steve Lehman :

Steve Lehman

514-457-6610 ext. 5945

I grew up in the American Midwest but have spent most of my adult life in Canada as a teacher of English at John Abbott College. Enlightened education policies here have allowed me to create most of the curriculum I follow, practice my own writing, and arrange sabbatical excursions. I have also been able to teach for varying periods of time in California, Saudi Arabia, Austria, and South Korea.

The most important literary influence on my thinking has been William Blake. He was a renegade poet and visionary artist who lived in England during the early years of the industrial revolution. Blake all but equated creative imagination with God, and the mythological figure that represents this energy in his work is Los.

In a flash of youthful exuberance long ago, I came to see myself as Los Laymen, using a variant spelling of my last name. However, Blake’s idea was that no individual can possess this creative imagination. The spirit migrates among people and from one generation to the next with unfathomable caprice. Writers can only troll the shoals of language in hopes of periodic visitations from Los who lurks eternally in the depths.

No matter what courses I might be teaching, this is the attitude toward language, literature and life that I try to communicate to my students.

Anna Lepine :

Anna Lepine

514-457-6610 ext. 5957

Anna Lepine has been a member of John Abbott College’s Department of English since 2007. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from McGill University (Drama and Theatre), a Master’s from Concordia University (English literature), and a PhD from the University of Ottawa (Victorian literature). Her doctoral dissertation, “The Old Maid in the Garret: Representations of the Spinster in Victorian Culture,” was awarded the Pierre Laberge Thesis Prize. She has published several articles on the portrayal of the spinster in Victorian culture and has presented papers at a variety of academic conferences. Current teaching interests include nineteenth-century British literature; the portrayal of women in literature; literature and science; and drama and theatre.

Naomi Levine : On Leave

Naomi Levine

On Leave


Maureen MacCuish :

Maureen MacCuish

514-457-6610 ext. 5963

Katie MacNamara : On Leave

Katie MacNamara

On Leave
514-457-6610 ext. 5622

Yael Margalit :

Yael Margalit

514-457-6610 ext. 5946

Ryan Maydan :

Ryan Maydan

514-457-6610 ext. 5970

Will McClelland : On Leave

Will McClelland

On Leave
514-457-6610 ext. 5093

Will McClelland holds a B.A. (McGill) in Cultural Studies, an M.A. (Concordia) in Canadian Literature and has been teaching at John Abbott since 2013. Before that he was a lay church minister, a rock n' roll tour manager and a speculator in antique ornamental jade. His first novel, The Minted, was published by Blue Leaf Press in Fall 2016.

Jennifer McDermott :

Jennifer McDermott

514-457-6610 ext. 5153

Professor McDermott has been a member of John Abbott College’s English department since 2011. After earning her B.A. and M.A. at McGill University, and then Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, she has worked to incorporate her sensory research into the teaching of literature. Her main area of expertise is Shakespeare; however, she teaches a range of courses including:   “Shakespeare in Action,” “Magic and Witchcraft,” “The Golden Age,” “Mad Science,” “Children’s Literature,” and “Renaissance Greatest Hits.” She also used to teach yoga! Her courses invite students to bring centuries-old texts to life by using theatre rehearsal techniques, performance games, and close-reading. An invited speaker for the McGill Dean of Arts lectures on “Teaching Excellence,” she is a contributor to scholarly communities such as the Shakespeare Society of America (SSA) and the International Shakespeare Association (ISA). She is also involved in coordinating the Writing Centre. What Jennifer enjoys most about teaching at Abbott is sharing her passion for literature with a diverse population of students.


  • “‘There’s Magic in the Web of It’: Skin, Mind, and Webs of Touch in Othello.” Embodied Cognition and Shakespeare’s Theatre. Eds. Laurie Johnson, John Sutton, and Evelyn Tribble. New York: Routledge P, 2014. Pages 154-172.
  • “The Melodie of Heaven: Sermonizing the Open Ear in Early Modern England.” Religion and the Senses in Early Modern Europe. Eds. Wietse de Boer and Christine Goettler. Leiden: Brill, 2013. Pages 177-197.
  • “Review of Holly Dugan’s The Ephemeral History of Perfume: Scent and Sense in Early Modern England.” Journal of British Studies (Apr 2013): 52.2 502-503.
  • “Perceiving Shakespeare: A Study of Sight, Sound, and Stage.” Early Modern Literary Studies. Special Issue 19 (Dec 2009): 5.1-38.
  • “Transgendering Clytemnestra.”Hirundo: The McGill Journal of Classical Studies1 (2002): 1-9.

Darren Millar : Co-Chair

Darren Millar

514-457-6610 ext. 5574

Christina Oltmann :

Christina Oltmann

514-457-6610 ext. 5991

Brock Pennington :

Brock Pennington

514-457-6610 ext. 5937

Ragne Raceviciute :

Ragne Raceviciute

514-457-6610 ext. 5940

Elaine Reimer-Pare :

Elaine Reimer-Pare

514-457-6610 ext. 5938

Barry Reynolds :

Barry Reynolds

514-457-6610 ext. 5942

Brittain Hall was a male student residence with a swimming pool when Barry Reynolds started teaching at JAC. Besides teaching Journalism and his community outreach ‘Volunteering’ course, Barry has worked as a reporter and business editor for newspapers in Canada and the U.S. These included the Montreal Gazette and the U.S.’s largest circulation daily, U.S.A. Today, where he was a Page One editor and Gannett Westchester (New York) Newspapers where he was Night City Editor. He has a B.A. Honors from St. F.X. University and an M.A. from Universite de Montreal. He has taught Management Training and Communications in Japan, the UAE, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, Germany, Finland and Singapore. Barry was on the team that set up JAC’s present International Program in the 1980s and was its first International Director (in Cont. Ed.) in the late ‘90s. He designed a successful community outreach course in conjunction with Volunteer West Island in 2008 which has seen 2,000 students volunteer at 30 non-profit organizations in the area: “It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to teach CEGEP students and to work with such dedicated colleagues at John Abbott College.”

Claire Russell :

Claire Russell

514-457-6610 ext. 5969

Yves Saint-Pierre : Chair

Yves Saint-Pierre

514-457-6610 ext. 5566

Over the years, I’ve travelled thousands of miles by canoe. That’s where I did much of my learning. I’m the oldest teacher in the department and probably the only one to have killed two bears, one for bounty, years ago and, more recently, one in self-defense. But often I read and sometimes I play golf.

Anna Sigg :

Anna Sigg

514-457-6610 ext. 5054

Abe Sosnowicz :

Abe Sosnowicz

514-457-6610 ext. 5962

Fiona Stewart : On Leave

Fiona Stewart

On Leave
514-457-6610 ext. 5428

Fiona Stewart has been a member of John Abbott College’s English Department since 2006. A graduate of John Abbott College (Health Sciences 1988) she holds a Bachelor degree in English Literature from the McGill University, an M.Phil in Modern English Literature from Oxford University as well as a Diploma from Cambridge University.  Her main areas of interest focus on contemporary British, Canadian and American literature, memoirs and autobiographies and utopias/dystopias. She is married to a documentary film-maker and together with their three children love to travel – recent trips include a year in Chamonix, France and a month-long trip to India. Her family is currently fostering a Mira dog – a guide dog in training. Outside interests include cooking, reading, running, triathlons & x-country skiing.

Rebecca Sultana :

Rebecca Sultana

514-457-6610 ext. 5935

Having lived in three different continents and six different countries, it was inevitable that I would be drawn to ideas of migration, exile and fragmented identities. My PhD dissertation (1999: Texas Christian University with the Ida Green Doctoral Fellowship) was on Diaspora literature, specifically on first generation American immigrant writers. In conjunction, my interest also delves into post-colonial theory and literature as well as in cultural studies.

My Masters was on American literature (1995: University of Texas at Dallas on a Fulbright Fellowship).

Before finally settling down at John Abbott, I have taught at Concordia University and at Champlain College.

When I have time left over, I sew and embroider. I garden too.

Lisa Szabo-Jones :

Lisa Szabo-Jones

514-457-6610 ext. 5261

Lawrence Szigeti : On Leave

Lawrence Szigeti

On Leave
514-457-6610 ext. 5966

Faye Trecartin :

Faye Trecartin

514-457-6610 ext. 5573
P-148 English

Faye has been teaching at John Abbott since 1993 and her areas of interest lie in gothic and speculative fiction, as well as, literature and social protest.

Michele Trepanier :

Michele Trepanier

514-457-6610 ext. 5951

Sarah Venart :

Sarah Venart

514-457-6610 ext. 5967

Sarah Venart has been a member of John Abbott College’s Department of English since 2001. She holds a Bachelor degree in Canadian Studies from Mount Allison University, a Bachelor degree in English Literature (Honours) from York University as well as a Masters in English Literature from Concordia University. Sarah writes poetry and fiction and has published a chapbook (Neither Apple Nor Pear) and a collection of poems (Woodshedding).  At John Abbott, Sarah serves as a member of the Awards and November Prize committees.

Sara Villa :

Sara Villa

514-457-6610 ext. 5720

Lori Weber :

Lori Weber

514-457-6610 ext. 5715

Lori Weber has been teaching at John Abbott since 1996. She is the author of seven young adult novels (including Klepto, Yellow Mini & Picture Me) and one picture book, My Granny Loves Hockey. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Concordia University, a Master’s Degree in English from Acadia University, and a Diploma in Education from McGill. Lori is a native Montrealer, but she has taught English in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. When she’s not teaching, she is writing and visiting schools to talk about writing and creativity. Currently, her favourite courses are Teen Spirit, which focuses on young adult fiction, and Creative Writing for Children.



Students are required to successfully complete four (4) English courses to obtain their DEC. Courses 603-102, 603-103 and 603-200 may be taken in either order only after successfully completing 603-101.

For a complete listing of English courses offered, please visit the General Education section of the Course Calendar.

Writing Centre

The Writing Centre

Writing Centre 1.2

The Writing Centre is a peer tutoring service offered to the students of John Abbott College and coordinated by the English department. Each semester over 50 students who are strong in English help other students develop their reading and writing skills in one-on-one tutoring sessions. Located in the library basement, with its focus on ‘students helping students’ and its friendly and welcoming space, this free service offers support to students across the programs and disciplines at John Abbott College.

English Honours Portfolio

English Honours Portfolio

Student Information and Procedures

What is it?

The English department at John Abbott College offers our very best students the opportunity to assemble an English Honours Portfolio. If the portfolio is approved, you will receive a certificate and letter of attestation upon graduation. The advantage of participating in the Honours Portfolio is that you can refer to the certificate on your curriculum vitae and even include the letter in your university application. They can also serve as tools when you are applying for jobs where a strong command of written English is essential.

Who is eligible?

If you are a motivated student who has an accumulated average of 85% in three of your English courses at John Abbott College, you can participate.

How does it work?

  • Early in your graduating semester (by week three), you must approach an English teacher to be your Portfolio Supervisor. Then, you must assemble a portfolio which highlights your best written work at JAC. These three pieces should include the following:
  • At least two works from English courses at JAC. One must be a literary analysis. The other can also be a literary analysis, or it can be an assignment written in a CALL English course, such as Journalism or Creative Writing.
  • A third written work can be drawn from a course in any other department at JAC. It can also come from the College Creative Writing Competition (where students were either winner or finalist), or from a campus publication, such as Bandersnatch or Locus.You must also write a 500-word covering letter wherein you reflect upon the texts you have chosen. How are they representative of your best work? What did you learn through the experience of writing them? How is strong writing important to you?

You are responsible for initiating and participating in the Portfolio. The Portfolio Supervisor is there to assess your work and suggest any revisions or substitutions he or she feels necessary. The Supervisor is the one who will recommend you for the certificate and letter. You must respect the time frame set out for you by the Supervisor.

Any questions?

Ask your English teacher. He or she will be able to help you or direct you to the person in the Department who can.


Locus cover

Locus Literary Magazine, published each semester, is a collection of works by John Abbott students varying from short stories to poetry to art to photography to any medium in between. We endeavor to bring you the very best that John Abbott offers in terms of creative expression.

Nous acceptons des soumissions en français aussi.

English Exit Exam

exit exam image

The Ministerial Examination of College English (the English Exit Exam) is a four-hour examination that can be taken in either May, August, or December. All students in English CEGEPs must take the examination before graduating and must pass it in order to obtain a diploma. The examination is designed to determine whether students have achieved a satisfactory level of competence in English. It is based on the Ministerial Objectives and Standards for all English courses given in the province.

For more information, contact your English teachers or visit Abbott’s Academic Success Centre.