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Faculty Profile of the Month - Dr. Wendy Shilton

Dr. Wendy Shilton is an Associate Professor in the Department of English. She joined UPEI in 1996 as a graduate of the University of Toronto, with interdisciplinary specialties in nineteenth-century poetics, the rhetoric of music and gender, and writing/writing-across-the-curriculum (WAC). Her primary teaching areas are Writing Studies and American Literature. For her, writing, reading and interpretation, speaking, and listening – in short, language “arts” – are core not only to the Arts but to meaningful engagement in all areas of academic study, workplace success, civic participation, and ecological human/environmental health.

Whether she is immersed in teaching an introductory course in academic writing, a senior seminar on the poetry of Emily Dickinson, or an interdisciplinary seminar on words and social power, Dr. Shilton strives to help students become more capable writers, discerning readers, and mindful communicators in our highly interdependent, complicated, technologically-driven world. At the same time, she seeks to teach how language use is more than a skill for communicating knowledge. Language is part of what makes us human. It enables us to reflect on meaning and the consequences of our dreams, desires, and actions. Language permits us to think and talk about how we are thinking and talking. It allows us to pose questions, analyze and critique knowledge, problem-solve, transform ways of knowing and understanding ourselves in relation to each other, and create new possibilities for how we want to live. Dr. Shilton’s classes variously address, therefore, how acts of communication are shaped by the ethical and aesthetic impact of rhetorical choices, contextual differences, and cultural constraints. Her teaching philosophy and methods are guided by relational-centred, active learning, writing-intensive, and student-directed learning approaches. 

Since her arrival at UPEI, Dr. Shilton has coordinated the multi-section introductory composition course, English 101: Academic Writing (aka UPEI 101), and held a leadership role in helping to develop diverse campus-wide writing initiatives, including the Writing Centre, the University Writing Minor, writing-intensive courses, WAC faculty development workshops, and WAC liaison between the University and the province’s high schools toward the development of a system-wide culture of literacy. In 2005, she won the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) Instructional Leadership Award. Her recent research has expanded to explore the impact of communication and rhetoric on public health, focussing specifically on the emergent area of Narrative Medicine, which integrates narrative-based evidence with traditional empirical science in determining meaning and response in illness contexts.

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