Thomas Wharton, BA, MA, PhD
MA: University of Alberta
PhD: University of Calgary
My main area of research and teaching is Creative Writing: Fiction.
My first novel, Icefields, won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book, Canada/Caribbean division. My second novel, Salamander, was short-listed for the Governor-General’s Literary Award and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. A collection of my short fiction, The Logogryph, published in 2004, was shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. I have also written a YA fantasy trilogy, The Perilous Realm, an eco-fiction, Every Blade of Grass, and a history book for small children, Rutherford the Time-Travelling Moose. My work has been published in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and other countries.
Current research project: an online interactive literary map of Edmonton.
Creative Writing: Fiction
Rudy Wiebe Room announcement by Tom Wharton
Salter Tea, May 17 2017
From the early 1970s, room 4-59 in the Humanities Building has been a special place for students of creative writing. It’s not a big room – it was originally designed for much smaller classes than those we have today – but 4-59 looms large in other ways. For writing students like myself and many others, enormously important things happened there. And many of these important things only happened because of Professor Emeritus Rudy Wiebe.
During the building of the Humanities Centre in the early 1970s, Rudy was consulted and had room 4-59 designed according to his vision for a writing workshop space. But his vision wasn’t just about the layout of a room, as innovative as it was. It was more about the kind of intense, focused encounters with writing that would happen there. Rudy challenged his students to give everything they had to their writing. He made us look unflinchingly at our own work. This was not easy, and room 4-59 could become a dreaded but necessary site of deep humbling. Rudy’s classes were always memorable, to say the least. Former students remember Rudy’s fist pounding the table to punctuate a point about good writing. He could cut our weak stories to ribbons, it’s true, but he talked seriously to us AS writers, so that we fledglings felt we were or at least could be part of a great lineage of Canadian writing. Many of us remember Rudy gesturing out the window to the river valley, and asking us: Do you know where you are? Do you know the history of this place, its stories? As writers, you NEED to know.
Rudy held writing classes in room 4-59 for many years, and taught many future Canadian writers of distinction, including Frances Itani, Suzette Mayr, Minister Faust, and Aritha van Herk. Videogame creator Jason Kapalka, who recently gifted our Writer-in-Residence Program with a million dollar endowment, was a student in Rudy’s classes and credits his time in our writing program as the creative springboard for his later achievements.
And so, given all that, in order to honour Rudy’s legacy as a teacher and mentor, room 4-59 has been officially designated The Rudy Wiebe Room. From now on, when we instructors ask our writing students, Do you know where you are? we can start answering the question by saying, You’re in the Rudy Wiebe Room, and go from there.
Lectures and workshops focusing on selected fiction techniques and form. Prerequisite: WRITE 295 unless waived by Instructor; a minimum grade of B+ in the prerequisite course is strongly recommended.
Prerequisite: WRITE 393 or WRITE 395 unless waived by Instructor; a minimum grade of B+ in the prerequisite course is strongly recommended.
Design and completion of an undergraduate project under the guidance of a member of the Department. The project is to be an original creative project judged by the Department to be the equivalent of a half-year creative writing course for *3, or a full-year creative writing course for *6. Prerequisite: successful completion of *6 WRITE credits or the equivalent, with consent of Department and Instructor.