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Cover of issue #220

Current Issue: #220 Tracking CanLit (Spring 2014)

Canadian Literature’s Issue 220 (Spring 2014) is now available. The issue features a wide range of articles and book reviews as well as a selection of new Canadian poetry.

Mavis Gallant, 1922–2014

February 19, 2014

Cover of Canadian Litertature issue #93

Celebrated Canadian writer Mavis Gallant passed away yesterday at the age of 91. Gallant, who spent most of her career in Paris, France, was best known for short stories but also wrote novels, plays, and essays. In 1981, Gallant won the Governor General’s Award in fiction for her collection Home Truths: Selected Canadian Stories and was named to the Order of Canada.

Despite living most of her life outside of Canada, Gallant’s work received much critical attention in the pages of Canadian Literature. Here is a list of all articles, reviews of Gallant’s works, and reviews of scholarship on Gallant’s writing published in Canadian Literature:


Book Reviews of Mavis Gallant’s Works

Reviews of Scholarship on Mavis Gallant’s Work

First Nations Public Library Week: February 10–15, 2014

February 13, 2014

Cover of issue #215 This week is First Nations Public Library Week in Ontario. The theme this year is “Celebrating Mother Earth.”

Our open-access classroom resource, CanLit Guides, has a guide to Indigenous Literatures in Canada—it’s a great resource for instructors, students, and anyone who wants to learn more about the complicated relationship between colonialism, culture, and language.

The guide features chapters on Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters, Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water, Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach, and much more.


February 5, 2014

Are you reading women authors in 2014?

CanLit Guides Logo Writer and artist Joanna Walsh’s Twitter hashtag #readwomen2014 has gone viral, encouraging readers worldwide to share their favourite women authors. Walsh’s campaign picks up on studies by organizations such as CWILA (Canadian Women in the Literary Arts) and VIDA that have found that far more books written by men are reviewed than ones written by women. The #readwomen2014 hashtag has sparked a lively online conversation about the role of gender in literary representation. CBC Books got into the fray with their list of 10 Canadian women you need to read, which includes writers such as Eden Robinson.

CanLit Guides has lots of content to help contextualize debates around gender and literature, starting with our Gender, Sexuality, and Canadian Literature guide. The guide contains primers on academic theories about on topics such as feminism, sexuality, performativity, and their relationship to literature. For example, we have a chapter on Feminist History of Literature and Culture in Canada, which examines the waves metaphor of feminism and the history of feminist literary culture in Canada. Our page on CWILA helps contextualize the debate about gender and literary representation from a Canadian perspective.

We also have plenty of literary case studies on work written by Canadian women authors:

As well, our Poetic Visuality and Experimentation guide features poetry by Canadian women poets M. Travis Lane and Rita Wong.

Explore CanLit Guides for lots more content on Canadian women writers!

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.

Sherrill Grace appointed Officer of the Order of Canada

January 2, 2014

Longtime Canadian Literature contributor and UBC English Professor Sherrill Grace has been appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada. The following is an excerpt from her citation:

Professor Sherrill E. Grace has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to scholarship in the Humanities. Her work has significantly enhanced the public debate of subjects such as the nation’s role in the North and in the two world wars. Her many accomplishments have been recognized across Canada and abroad, and she has received some of the most prestigious awards that her home university, the University of British Columbia, and the Canadian and European scholarly communities have to offer. In recognition of her exceptional achievements, she is richly deserving of the nation’s highest honour.

Here is a collection of Sherrill Grace’s extensive contributions to Canadian Literature, as well as reviews of her own publications:


Book Reviews

  • Silent Casualties by Sherrill Grace. #215 (Winter 2012): 164–65. Book Review: HTML available. Review of Boys and Girls in No Man’s Land: English-Canadian Children and the First World War by Susan R. Fisher.
  • Ghosting the NWT by Sherrill Grace. #197 (Summer 2008): 139–40. Book Review: HTML available. Review of Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay.
  • Remembering WWI by Sherrill Grace. #197 (Spring 2008): 147–48. Book Review: HTML available. Review of Mothers of Heroes, Mothers of Martyrs: World War I and the Politics of Grief by Suzanne Evans and Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment edited by Mike Bechthold, Geoffrey Hayes, and Andrew Iarocci.
  • Icons of Identity by Sherrill Grace. #186 (Autumn 2005): 178–79. Book Review: HTML available. Review of The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson by David P. Silcox.
  • Telling Our Stories by Sherrill Grace. #184 (Spring 2005): 114–16. Book Review: HTML available. Review of If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?: Finding Common Ground by J. Edward Chamberlin, Playing Dead: A Contemplation Concerning the Arctic by Rudy Wiebe, and Colours in the Storm by Jim Betts
  • Life at High Latitudes by Sherrill Grace. #183 (Winter 2004): 153–55. Book Review: HTML available. Review of High Latitudes by Farley Mowat, Inuit Journey: The Co-operative Venture in Canada’s North by Edith Iglauer, Thunder on the Tundra: Inuit Quajimajatuqangit of the Bathurst Cariboo by Kitikmeot Elders, Sandra Eyegetok, Naikak Hakongak, and Natasha Thorpe.
  • Discovering North/Self by Sherrill Grace. #178 (Autumn 2003): 98–99. Book Review: HTML available. Review of The Snow Geese: A Story of Home by William Fiennes, Alone in Silence: European Women in the Canadian North before 1940 by Barbara Kelcey, and From Barrow to Boothia: The Arctic Journal of Chief Factor Peter Warren Dease, 1836-1839 edited by William Barr.
  • Joyce Wieland, in Life and Art by Sherrill Grace. #178 (Autumn 2003): 150–51. Book Review: HTML available. Review of Joyce Wieland: Artist on Fire by Jane Lind, and Joyce Wieland: : A Life in Art by Iris Nowell.
  • Between Women by Sherrill Grace. #174 (Autumn 2002): 150–51. Book Review: HTML available. Review of A Student of Weather by Elizabeth Hay.
  • Listening to the North by Sherrill Grace. #174 (Autumn 2002): 150–51. Book Review: HTML available. Review of It&rsquyo;s Like the Legend: Innu Women’s Voices edited by Nymphs Byrne and Camille Fouillard, Inuksuit: Silent Messengers of the Arctic by Norman Hallendy, Walking on the Land by Farley Mowat.
  • Writing Arctic Journals by Sherrill Grace. #170-171 (Autumn/Winter 2001): 247–49. Book Review: HTML available. Review of The Ladies, the Gwich’in, and the Rat: Travels on the Athabasca, Macekenzie, Rat, Porcupine, and Yukon Rivers in 1926 by Clara Vyvyan, edited by Lisa N. LaFramboise and I. MacLaren, and North With Franklin: The Lost Journals of James Fitzjames by John Wilson.
  • More Northern Indices by Sherrill Grace. #167 (Winter 2000): 134–37. Book Review: HTML available. Review of Un/Covering the North: News, Media, and Aboriginal People by Valerie Alia, Across the Top of the World: The Quest for the Northwest Passage by James P. Delgado, True North: The Yukon and the Northwest Territories by William R. Morrison, Gamblers and Dreamers: Women, Men, and Community in the Klondike by Charlene Porsild.
  • Working the North by Sherrill Grace. #164 (Spring 2000): 136–38. Book Review: HTML available. Review of Reaching North: A Celebration of the Sub-Arctic by Jamie Bastedo, Running with the Caribou by Pete Sarsfield, Teaching in a Cold Windy Place by Joanne Tompkins.
  • Women in the North by Sherrill Grace. #161-162 (Summer/Autumn 1999): 207–08. Book Review: HTML available. Review of Winging It in the North by Lyn Hancock and Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak by Victoria Jason.
  • Storying Northern History by Sherrill Grace. #161-162 (Summer/Autumn 1999): 212–14. Book Review: HTML available. Review of The Ice Master: A Novel of the Arctic by James Houston, The Man From the Creeks by Robert Kroetsch, and Trapped in Ice by Eric Walters.
  • Ways of Going North by Sherrill Grace. #158 (Autumn 1998): 212–14. Book Review: HTML available. Review of Great Heart: The History of a Labrador Adventure by James West Davidson and John Rugge and Light for a Cold Land: Lawren Harris’s Work and Life—An Interpretation by Peter Larisey.
  • Northern Mysteries by Sherrill Grace. #154 (Autumn 1997): 111–13. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature by Margaret Atwood and Strangers Among Us by David C. Woodman.
  • Reimag(in)ing the Arctic by Sherrill Grace. #151 (Winter 1996): 156–59. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of Between Two Cultures: A Photographer Among the Inuit by Maria Tippett, illustrated by Charles Gimpel, Arctic Artist: The Journal and Paintings of George Back, Midshipman with Franklin, 1819-1823 by C. Stuart Houston and I. MacLaren, and Polar Pioneers: John Ross and James Clark Ross by M. J. Ross.
  • Multiple Discoveries by Sherrill Grace. #149 (Summer 1996): 136–37. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of A Discovery of Strangers by Rudy Wiebe.
  • Polar Attractions by Sherrill Grace. #148 (Spring 1996): 148–50. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of In A Crystal Land: Canadian Explorers in Antarctica by Dean Beeby and Gender on Ice: American Ideologies of Arctic Explorations by Lisa Bloom.
  • Collecting Tips by Sherrill Grace. #137 (Summer 1993): 75–76. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of Writing the Woman Artist: Essays on Poetics, Politics, and Portraiture by Suzanne W. Jones and Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood.
  • Breaking Silence by Sherrill Grace. #133 (Summer 1992): 146–49. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of By Heart: Elizabeth Smart, A Life by Rosemary Sullivan and Silence and Power: A Reevaluation of Djuna Barnes by Mary Lynn Broe.
  • Revolutionizing Art by Sherrill Grace. #132 (Spring 1992): 169–70. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of Plays at the Iron Bridge, or The Autobiography of Tom Horror by Wilfrid Watson.
  • Black Curtain by Sherrill Grace. #129 (Summer 1991): 180–82. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of The Voice of the Crane by David Gurr.
  • Theory & Practice by Sherrill Grace. #127 (Winter 1990): 135–38. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of The Private Self: Theory and Practice of Women’s Autobiographical Writings edited by Shari Benstock and Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood.
  • Two-Headed Art by Sherrill Grace. #121 (Summer 1989): 147–50. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of Surréalisme et littérature québécoise: Histoire d’une révolution culturelle by Gary Boire and Documents in Canadian Art by Douglas Fetherling.
  • Overviews by Sherrill Grace. #120 (Spring 1989): 156–59. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of Canadian Drama and the Critics edited by L. W. Conolly German Expressionist Prose: Theory and Practice by Augustinus P. Dierick.
  • Home Rituals by Sherrill Grace. #112 (Spring 1987): 102–04. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of Noman’s Land by Gwendolyn MacEwen and This Is My Own: Letters to Wes & Other Writings on Japanese Canadians, 1941-1948 by Muriel Kitagawa, edited by Roy Miki.
  • Inner Necessity by Sherrill Grace. #108 (Spring 1986): 152–55. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of THE SCREAM: First Draft, the third annual group show edited by Colin Morton.
  • Oxford Companions by Sherrill Grace. #104 (Spring 1985): 113–15. Book Review: Reviews section PDF available. Review of The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature edited by William Toye.
  • Theatre of Action by Sherrill Grace. #98 (August 1983): 100–02. Book Review: HTML available. Review of Canadian Theatre in the Thirties: A Memoir by Toby Gordon Ryan.
  • Brooker by Sherrill Grace. #92 (Spring 1982): 110–11. Book Review: HTML available. Review of Sounds Assembling: The Poetry of Bertram Brooker by Birk Sproxton.
  • Small Miracle by Sherrill Grace. #89 (Summer 1981): 155–56. Book Review: HTML available. Review of Pilgarlic the Death by Bernard Epps.
  • Continuing Story by Sherrill E. Grace. #84 (Spring 1980): 110–11. Book Review: HTML available. Review of Malcolm Lowry: Voyage au fond de nos abîmes by Christine Pagnoulle and Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano: Myth, Symbol, Meaning by David Markson.
  • by Sherrill Grace. #77 (Summer 1978): 103–06. Book Review: HTML available. Review of The True Story of Ida Johnson by Sharon Riis, Malke, Malke by Bess Kaplan, A Small Informal Dance by Helen Levi,and Child of the Morning by Pauline Gedge.

Book Reviews of Sherrill Grace’s Works

Western Literature Association Call For Papers 2014

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 shortlist announced

    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:

    CanLit Guides: Gender, Sexuality, and Canadian Literature guide revised

    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.

    UBC Associate Professor Emeritus Andrew Busza honoured by Association of Polish Writers Abroad

    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.

    Canadian Literature contributor Sandra Djwa wins Governor General’s Award

    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

    Remembering Clara Thomas

    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

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