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Cover of issue #219

Current Issue: #219 Contested Migrations (Winter 2013)

Canadian Literature’s Issue 219 (Winter 2013), Contested Migrations is now available! The issue features articles by Vinh Nguyen, Mariam Pirbhai, Rachel Bower, Maude Lapierre, J. I. Little, David Williams, and more.

Happy Holidays!

December 20, 2013

Happy holidays from the staff at Canadian Literature!

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season.

Current Issue #217 (Summer 2013)

December 20, 2013

Cover of issue 217 Canadian Literature’s Issue 217 (Summer 2013), Gendering the Archive is now available. This issue features an editorial by Laura Moss commenting on author David Gilmour’s controversial comments about teaching literature:

I can think of six reasons why Gilmour’s comments immediately gained traction and why so many people seem to care so deeply. These group around 1) the state of the profession, 2) responsibility to students, 3) power in the institution, 4) public accountability, 5) other recent examples of sexism in Canadian academic settings, and 6) an increase in awareness about issues of equity in Canadian literary culture. University of Toronto graduate students Andrea Day and Miriam Novik convincingly argue that Gilmour’s comments have made explicit what is so often implicit. He has gracelessly articulated the biases that too often dictate what sort of literature is considered serious and useful, opinions which too often shape teaching and reading at all levels of education and private life (n. pag.). In sum, Gilmour’s statements tap into (fears of) what lies beneath the surface of contemporary Canadian culture.

—Laura Moss, Guy-Guys, CWILA, and Going Down the Hall to the Archives.

Also in this issue, articles by Lorraine York (on Esi Edugyan and Canadian literary celebrity), Hannah McGregor (on violence, mediation and representation in Carol Shield’s Unless), Sara Jamieson (on Alice Munro’s Who Do You Think You Are?), Laura Cameron (on the poetry of Phyllis Webb), Patrick Warner (on Gauntlet Press), Julia P. W. Cooper, Norah Franklin, and Nathan W. Murray (on Margaret Atwood's The Journals of Susanna Moodie), and new Canadian poetry and book reviews.

Purchase this issue from our online store.

Call for Papers: Western Literature Association’s Bordersongs

December 13, 2013

The Western Literature Association will hold their 49th Annual conference November 5–8, 2014 in Victoria, BC. The WLA invites proposals on the following:

In addition to proposals on any aspect of the literatures of the North American West, we encourage panels and papers that cross disciplines and/or explore dimensions of the conference theme, singing borders and bordering on song:

  • Border crossings broadly interpreted
  • First Nations/Native American song, story, and writing
  • Songs in, and musical settings of western writing
  • The singer/songwriter, the cowgirl/cowboy poet, the storyteller
  • Poetry, stories, creative non-fiction with musical accompaniment

  • Deadline: June 15, 2014

    Please submit abstracts, proposals, or questions to Anne Kaufman and Laurie Ricou at WLAconference14@gmail.com.

    For more information, and to download the full CFP, visit the WLA Conference 2014 website. Graduate students can apply for award and funding opportunities to support WLA paper presentations.

    Canada Reads 2014

    November 27, 2013

    Cover of issue 193

    Canada Reads is quickly becoming one of the most important prizes in Canadian literature. It may not be high on prestige, but the economic and cultural spin-off is enormous.

    —Laura Moss, Canada Reads from Canadian Literature 182 (Autumn 2004)

    Today, CBC announced the finalists and panelists of their popular annual Canada Reads battle of the books event. Each day during the week-long competition, celebrity panelists discuss the merits of the shortlisted books and vote off one book, reality TV-style. The winning book at the end of the week is deemed the one that all of Canada should read. The French-language version, Combat des livres is held each spring on Radio-Canada.

    In Candian Literature issue 182 (Autumn 2004), Black Writing in Canada, then-book reviews editor Laura Moss wrote an editorial about Canada Reads, identifying it as a significant cultural event that merited deeper critical attention:

    Canada Reads showcases Canadian writing, promotes Canadian writers, encourages literacy, and supports the publishing industry in Canada. So, why am I a bit uneasy about the game? Part of the answer lies in the disjuncture between the program’s nation-building rhetoric and its depoliticization of the literary works. Part of it lies with the immense cultural responsibility placed on the celebrity panelists. … The Canada Reads project needs to recognize that although the program may be just a game as senior producer Talin Vartanian told me, it is a game played with cultural, social, and economic consequences. (7–8)

    Since Laura Moss’ editorial, Canadian Literature has continued to publish about the cultural implications of the Canada Reads event. In Summer 2007, we published a special issue dedicated to Canada Reads. The following is a compliation of the Canada Reads content published in our journal to date, as well as book reviews of four of this year’s five shortlisted novels:

    Book reviews of 2014 Canada Reads shortlisted books:

    Gender, Sexuality, and Canadian Literature: revamped, expanded, and now online on CanLit Guides

    November 22, 2013

    CanLit Guides Logo Canadian Literature has revised and expanded the Gender, Sexuality, and Canadian Literature classroom guide on CanLit Guides.

    In addition to literary case studies on Roughing It in the Bush by Susanna Moodie, Swamp Angel by Ethel Wilson, Ana Historic by Daphne Marlatt, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) by Ann-Marie McDonald, and Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai, the guide includes a feature on Canada’s answer to Rosie the Riveter, Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl, as well as chapters on feminist history, theory, and culture and queer theory.

    CanLit Guides is a flexible learning resource, developed by Canadian Literature, that introduces students to academic reading and writing. The guides use articles from Canadian Literature’s online archive, helping students navigate scholarly conversations surrounding Canadian Literature.

    Andrew Busza honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award

    November 20, 2013

    On September 26, the Association of Polish Writers Abroad awarded Andrew (Andrzej) Busza, Associate Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia, a lifetime achievement award. Busza is a poet and translator, and is known for his work on Joseph Conrad.

    In 1966, Canadian Literature reviewed his monograph, Conrad’s Polish Literary Backgound. In 1989, Busza published a memoir essay called My Great-grand-uncle’s Bequest: for my daughter Eva in our Slavic and East-European Connections special issue.

    Clara Thomas, 1919–2013

    November 15, 2013

    Canadian literary scholar and educator Clara Thomas passed away on September 26, 2013. Known for her work on Canadian women writers, Thomas helped develop the discipline of Canadian literature studies. The following is from Canadian critic and author John Moss’ address at the celebration of Clara Thomas’ life on October 31, 2013.

    Jorge Luis Borges described life as a labyrinth consisting of one invisible line with no beginning and no end, no directions and no markers, where it’s impossible to get lost because you are always right where you are. Clara Thomas was always right where she was, wholly there. When you were with Clara, you really were with Clara, a lovely, intelligent, generous, indefatigable colleague and friend. You had her full attention.

    I knew Clara as a women of words. People gathered here know from her public writing how strong and forthright, clever, and insightful she was. Her literary commentary and criticism are matters of public record. Her importance to Canadian letters cannot be overstated. She was a giant among us, not only for her writings on Jameson, Deacon, Laurence, among many others, but for her work with students, many of whom went on to shape Canadian literature profoundly, and for her work with colleagues at York, across Canada, and around the world.

    There is no end for those of us who live among words. After we are gone, the words remain, not as echoes or souvenirs but as curiously palpable and oddly intangible aspects of ourselves. During lives in the groves of academe and the orchards of literature, we become what we have written and read and studied and taught, and the words become us. Feeling quite crushed when I heard of her death, I sat down to read her side of our correspondence that extended through five decades and I was quickly moved to a kind of awkward elation.

    Clara never simply dropped me a note, she sent letters. There was something wonderfully nineteenth century about them; the unhurried elegance, the trusting candour, the capacity to express emotion and ideas in the same sentence, praise and advice in the same paragraph. Utterly honest and ingenuously beguiling, her words evoked, invoked, a special relationship. I think Clara had a genius for special relationships, making each of her friends and colleagues, students and readers, feel extraordinary. Many of us have our own portion of her words to treasure, where Clara is as much there as when they were first written and shared.

    I met Clara on the telephone in 1971. Dave Arnason and I had taken it into our heads to start a journal that would bring Canadian critics and creative writers together in a single publication. We needed people on the board with high visibility. Well, of course, you do, said Clara when I called her. You need women. Sign me on. Then she added, I have a friend who might be interested. I’ll let you speak to her. Margaret Laurence came on the line, listened, and said yes. In one fell swoop, we were legit! The Journal of Canadian Fiction published the best writers and critics of the day. Clara was a wonderfully important part of all that.

    She continued to act as a mentor and friend. I shared some wonderful dinners with Clara when we would meet from time to time over literary and academic business. We shared a past, both coming from Southwestern Ontario, my family, the Camerons from Granton, and hers from Strathroy. And we shared in the knowledge that we, too, in our own ways as critics and teachers, writers, and thinkers, were leaving a place for the future to stand on. Clara McCandless Thomas, Morley’s beloved Clara, she made the labyrinth visible for the rest of us, she showed us the way and, with luminescent grace, how to be where we are.

    —John Moss

    Sandra Djwa, Governor General's Award Winner 2013

    November 15, 2013

    This week, the Canada Council for the Arts announced the winners of the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Awards. Among the winners was Canadian Literature contributor Sandra Djwa, who won the award for Non-Fiction in English.

    Djwa was honoured for her P. K. Page biography, Journey with No Maps: A Like of P. K. Page (McGill-Queen’s University Press). Over the years, Sandra Djwa has contributed articles, notes, and book reviews to Canadian Literature, and had her own scholarly work reviewed in the journal. Notably, in 1989, poet Al Purdy wrote his review of Djwa’s The Politics of the Imagination: A Life of F. R. Scott in the form of a memoir about Scott.

    Here is a list of Canadian Literature’s Sandra Djwa archive:


    Opinions & Notes

    Book Reviews

    Book Reviews of Sandra Djwa’s Works

    Indigenous Literatures in Canada now available on CanLit Guides

    November 7, 2013

    CanLit Guides Logo Canadian Literature has published the latest learning resource on CanLit Guides, Indigenous Literatures in Canada.

    The guide features literary case studies on Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters, Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water, and Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach, and a discussion of the visual poetry of Jordan Abel and Shane Rhodes.

    CanLit Guides is a flexible learning resource, developed by Canadian Literature, that introduces students to academic reading and writing. The guides use articles from Canadian Literature’s online archive, helping students navigate scholarly conversations surrounding Canadian Literature.

    Lynn Coady, Giller Prize winner 2013

    November 7, 2013

    Lynn Coady won the 2013 Giller Prize for her short story collection Hellgoing. The following is a collection of articles and reviews published in Canadian Literature about Coady’s work:


    • As For Me and Me Arse: Strategic Regionalism and the Home Place in Lynn Coady’s Strange Heaven by Herb Wyile. #189 (Summer 2006): 85–101. Article: PDF available.
    • It’s no different than anywhere else: Regionalism, Place, and Popular Culture in Lynn Coady’s Saints of Big Harbour by Douglas Ivison. #208 (Spring 2011): 109–125.

    Book Reviews

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