Meet KPU: Heather Ladd
Ladd is a KPU English instructor who recently published her first academic book
Heather Ladd is an English instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, who recently joined the community after moving from southern Alberta to Vancouver last summer.
Before coming to KPU, Ladd was an associate professor of English at the University of Lethbridge and completed her PhD at the University of Toronto in 2013 after receiving a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Grant and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship. Ladd recently had her first academic book published called English Theatrical Anecdotes, 1660-1800, which focuses on how theatre during this time helped create England’s gossip celebrity culture. Passionate about teaching, she enjoys working in an active and inclusive learning environment in her courses.
Her areas of teaching include theatre and drama, eighteenth-century literature, sexual diversity and British and Canadian children’s literature. She will be teaching her first upper-level English class in spring, ENGL 3325, which will focus on British literature from 1688 to 1815. The course will consist of short stories, poetry, and novels.
When did you join the KPU community, and why?
I was hired in the summer of 2021 to teach online, so this is my first semester teaching entirely in-person at KPU. My partner got a job in Vancouver and I wanted to teach in the Lower Mainland with a teaching-focused position, my last job was more research-focused.
I really like that KPU is all about undergraduate education and I feel like you get to know students a lot better. Seeing their faces is meaningful because in an online setting, most of the student’s don’t put on their camera. Just those little chats before and after class help me get to know my students as people, not just as students. I find classroom discussions much more vigorous and interesting, so that to me is exciting. The connections and group work activities are much easier in-person.
I taught a lot of upper-level courses in my last job, so it will be fun teaching upper-level courses again next semester. I love introductory courses because it is nice to get people excited about literature who might not be excited. However, I am looking forward to getting into more challenging texts and encountering students who already have that passion for literature.
What is your favourite story of your time at KPU?
The English Department at KPU is really friendly, supportive, and welcoming. We are starting to do social things outside of work. I love my department and the students are great. In terms of stories about teaching, I had a wonderful class recently where Billeh Nickerson, who is a poet and the associate dean of arts, came to my 1202 class. Ocean in literature is the theme of the course and he read from his book, Impact: The Titanic Poems, which is about the sinking and discovery of the wreckage of the Titanic ship. He has written six books of poetry in total.
It was an incredible experience to have someone from KPU share their writing and students were really excited and had some interesting things to say. One of my students wants to be a creative writer, so it was an opportunity where I could share the expertise of my colleagues with my students. It was really nice to have a live poet come read his poems, so that was the highlight of the semester for me.
What is something you’d like to say to people new to the community?
Attend events when you can. Even though we have several campuses, make an effort to connect and be present. During the pandemic, I attended several online events and got a chance to connect with people. It’s good to connect with people outside of your departments by joining committees and going to special events, like readings and workshops. That way you can share the knowledge you have gained from these kinds of experiences with your students and your colleagues.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on another book and it is also on 18th century theatre and a particular comic type of character who is on stage. Many of the plays that I am going to be examining are by female playwrights, so there is going to be a gender and sexuality angle to the book. I really enjoyed working on the edited collection, but now I am interested in another type of academic work. I am hoping to get a book proposal sometime by the spring and work more steadily on it in the summer.
What is something you’d like people to know about you?
I’m a big reader, so I am always curious to know what my students are reading outside of their classes. I have daily reading practice, not just books that I am teaching or researching, but books I like to read for fun. I want my students to always feel free to talk to me about their personal reading and writing practices. That’s something I enjoy hearing about and to make those kinds of connections with my students. I also really like cats!