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Cover of issue #219

Current Issue: #219 Contested Migrations (Winter 2013)

Canadian Literature’s Issue 219 (Winter 2013) is now available. The issue features articles by Vinh Nguyen, Miriam Pirbhai, Rachel Bower, and others, as well as new poetry & book reviews.

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

    Lynn Coady wins 2013 Giller Prize

    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

    CanLit Guides: Indigenous Literatures in Canada guide is now online!

    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.

    Alice Munro, 2013 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature

    October 17, 2013

    Cover of Canadian Litertature issue #150

    Congratulations to Alice Munro for winning the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature. Munro has been recognized as a master of the contemporary short story form on an international stage.

    Canadian Literature published its first review of Munro’s work in 1969. Over the years, critics and reviewers have engaged actively with her work in our journal. In 1996, we published a special issue dedicated to Munro and Jane Urquhart.

    Here is a list of all articles, reviews of Munro’s works, and reviews of scholarship on Munro’s writing published in Canadian Literature.


    Book Reviews of Alice Munro’s Works

    Reviews of Scholarship on Alice Munro’s Work

    • Craft & Critcism by Eva-Marie Kröller. #103 (Winter 1984): 128–129. Reviews section PDF available. Review of: Probable Fictions: Alice Munro’s Narrative Acts by Louis K. MacKendrick
    • Archives by Helen Hoy. #116 (Spring 1988): 203–205. Reviews section PDF available. Review of: The Alice Munro Papers: First Accession edited by J. Moore, A. Steele, and J. Tener
    • On Munro by Patricia Koster. #117 (Summer 1988): 166–167. Reviews section PDF available. Review of: The Art of Alice Munro: Saying the Unsayable by Judith Miller
    • Taking Sides by Catherine Sheldrick Ross. #132 (Spring 1992): 216–218. Reviews section PDF available. Review of: Dance of the Sexes: Art and Gender in the Fiction of Alice Munro by Beverly J. Rasporich and A Sense of Style: Studies in the Art of Fiction in English-Speaking Canada by W. J. Keith
    • A Double Life by Beverly Rasporich. #138-139 (Autumn/Winter 1993): 148–149. Reviews section PDF available. Review of: Mothers and Other Clowns: The Stories of Alice Munro by Magdalene Redekop and Alice Munro: A Double Life by Shane Rhodes and Catherine Sheldrick Ross
    • Munro Tapes by Beverly Rasporich. #138-139 (Autumn/Winter 1993): 147–148. Reviews section PDF available. Review of: Interview with Alice Munro by The American Audio Prose Library and Alice Munro Reading The Progress of Love by The American Audio Prose Library
    • Ringing the Changes by Christine Somerville. #140 (Spring 1994): 130–132. Reviews section PDF available. Review of: Introducing Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women by Neil K Besner and Multiple Voices: Recent Canadian Fiction by Jeanne Delbaere
    • Monuments & Magpies by Christine Somerville. #148 (Spring 1996): 180–181. Reviews section PDF available. Review of: The Other Country: Patterns in the Writing of Alice Munro by James Carscallen
    • Gay Writing and Queer Theory by Helmut Reichenbächer. #149 (Summer 1996): 174–176. Reviews section PDF available. Review of: Meanwhile, in Another Part of the Forest: Gay Stories from Alice Munro to Yukio Mishima edited by Alberto Manguel and Craig Stephenson and Writing AIDS: Gay Literature, Language and Analysis edited by Timothy F. Murphy and Suzanne Poirier
    • Critical Vantage by Beverly J. Rasporich. #150 (Autumn 1996): 183–186. Reviews section PDF available. Review of: The Tumble of Reason: Alice Munro’s Discourse of Absence by Ajay Heble and The Crafting of Chaos: Narrative Structure in Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel and The Diviners by Hildegard Kuester
    • Introducing Oeuvres by Robert Thacker. #167 (Winter 2000): 124–126. HTML available. Review of: Alice Munro by Coral Ann Howell and Mavis Gallant by Danielle Schaub
    • Short Fictions by Kathryn Ready. #181 (Summer 2004): 161–163. HTML available. Review of: Reading in Alice Munro’s Archives by Joann McCaig and The Oxford Anthology of Raj Stories by Saros Cowasjee
    • Biographing Alice Munro by Héliane Ventura. #191 (Winter 2006): 128–130. HTML available. Review of: Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives: a Biography by Robert Thacker
    • Editing Talent by Dee Horne. #205 (Summer 2010): 160. HTML available. Review of: Douglas Gibson Unedited: On Editing Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, W.O. Mitchell, Mavis Gallant, Jack Hodgins, Alistair MacLeod, etc. by Christine Evain

    Opinions & Notes

    New Issue: #216 (Spring 2013)

    October 16, 2013

    Cover of issue 216 Canadian Literature’s Issue 216 (Spring 2013) is now available. This issue features articles by Sam McKegney (on Indigenous masculinity in Truth and Reconciliation Commission testimonials), Ryan Melsom (on queerness and nationalism in Douglas Coupland), Shaun Hanna (on Stephen Collis' The Barricades Project), Herb Wyile (on Jeff Derksen's Transnational Muscle Cars), Nathalie Dolbec (on Jacques Poulin's Volkswagen Blues), Andrew Lesk (on Maggie Helwig's Girl Fall Down), Brenda Carr Vellino and Sarah Waisvisz (on Daphne Marlatt's The Gull), and new Canadian poetry and book reviews.

    Although I can’t be completely sure, it was likely April 1978 that Michael Taft and I drove to Batoche in my trusty VW Rabbit. There was still snow on the ground, for sure. One vivid memory is of coming to an ice bridge across the South Saskatchewan River; pickup trucks were bombing across it in sprays of slush. Signs warned, Use at your own risk. Michael wanted me to floor it across. I remember pointing out it was my car. I turned around and took another route with a real bridge. When we got to Batoche, there were no signs, only mailboxes along the road that bore the same names we saw in the graveyard. Six graves bearing the same Ukrainian last name were of children who had all died on the same day. The only other grave I remember was Gabriel Dumont’s, on which rested a slightly open package of Drum pipe tobacco. We peered through the windows of the church where Louis Riel declared his second provisional government in 1885 and found the bullet holes in the priest’s house. Then, after crunching around aimlessly in the snow for a while under a gray sky, we drove home.

    —Margery Fee, Tourism in Saskatchewan.

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