Author Spotlights

60th Anniversary Author Spotlight – Sally Chivers

April 7, 2020

Sally Chivers is Director of the Trent Centre for Aging and Society and Professor of English and Gender & Women’s Studies at Trent University. She is the author of The Silvering Screen: Old Age and Disability in Cinema (2011) and From Old Woman to Older Women: Contemporary Culture and Women’s Narratives (2003), and the co-editor of Care Home Stories: Aging, Disability and Long-Term Residential Care (2017) and The Problem Body: Projecting Disability and Film (2010). Her ongoing research focuses on the cultural politics of disability and aging, especially through literature and film.

 

Article
“‘Your own guilty story’: Rethinking Care Relations through David Chariandy’s Soucouyant

Abstract
Apocalyptic visions of an aging population rest on negative assumptions about the costs and effects of increasing numbers of people with dementia. Such discourse emphasizes a desire for cure and amplifies the costs of care while ignoring the broader cultural implications of dementia. Literary portrayals offer the opportunity to broaden the figurative landscape to raise questions about what it means for a population to age. Drawing on age studies, this contextualized close reading of David Chariandy’s Soucouyant: a novel of forgetting offers another way to think about global aging, the implications of memory loss, and how care work affects relationships. The novel’s never named narrator concocts “guilty stories” that orient him to his mother’s dementia but do not adequately account for the care work his mother’s friend, Mrs. Christopher, has done over decades. Thus, the novel pertains to the political economy of aging by surfacing connections among care relations, cultural memory, and dementia.

Canadian Literature issue 239, 60th Anniversary, is available to order through our online store.


60th Anniversary Author Spotlight – Franco Cortese

March 31, 2020

Franco Cortese is an experimental poet living in Thorold, Ontario. His poetry was longlisted for the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize and has appeared in Literary Review of Canada, The Malahat Review, Canadian Literature, The Capilano Review, filling Station, ditch, and others. His recent chapbooks include aeiou (No Press 2018), uoiea (above/ground press 2019), teksker (Simulacrum Press 2019), no mỡ, no mo, no mò (nOIR:Z 2020), lo vỡ yo uo (above/ground press 2020), wú hu uu mù iu (above/ground press, 2020), gó go gó (The Blasted Tree 2020), lő co co lỗ (Timglaset, 2020) and lù vũ yǔ (Timglaset 2020). He also has leaflets, booklets and other poetic ephemera out through The Blasted Tree, Penteract Press, and Spacecraft Press. His work has been published both within Canada and internationally, and has been anthologized in Concrete and Constraint (Penteract Press 2018) and Science Poems (Penteract Press 2020).

His poem “errorgatio*” can be read on our website at canlit.ca/article/errorgatio.

Canadian Literature issue 239, 60th Anniversary, is available to order through our online store.


60th Anniversary Author Spotlight – Aislinn Clare McDougall

March 24, 2020

Aislinn Clare McDougall is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities in the Department of English at the University of Utah. She grew up in Lumsden, SK, where she began her academic studies at the University of Regina. She completed both an MA and PhD in English at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON. She specializes in contemporary North American literature and Digital Humanities in both critical and creative contexts.

 

Article
“The Decolonization of Print, Digital, and Oral Spaces in Jordan Abel’s Injun

Abstract
In Injun, Jordan Abel aggressively destabilizes print literary space by excavating “91 Western novels” available on Project Gutenburg for every instance of the word “injun.” While Injun offers a decolonial scrutinization of these novels wherein Abel uses their words against them—his extractions from the novels becoming reclaimed territory, refashioned into poetic expression—Abel’s poetic enterprise is inherently digital. This article explores Injun as a project of literary decolonization that uses digital technology to reclaim the colonial language that has been used to define and disempower Indigenous peoples. While it explores how the digital can catalyze an intervention in literature’s colonial roots, it further addresses the crucial tension between print and digital as both predominantly white spaces. Ultimately, Injun instantiates an Indigenous presence digitally via digital excavation, experimental typography and Abel’s digital, oral performance, all of which showcase an uncomfortable, but necessary breaking down of the English language in meatspace and cyberspace.

Canadian Literature issue 239, 60th Anniversary, is available to order through our online store.


60th Anniversary Author Spotlight – Cyril Dabydeen

March 17, 2020

Photo credit to Frank Scheme

Cyril Dabydeen’s work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Poetry/Chicago, Prairie Schooner, The Critical Quarterly, and in the Oxford, Penguin, and Heinemann Books of Poetry and Fiction. His latest books include My Undiscovered Country/Stories (Mosaic Press, Oakville); God’s Spider/Poetry (Peepal Tree Press, UK); and My Multi-Ethnic Friends/Stories (Guernica Editions, Toronto). He edited Beyond Sangre Grande: Caribbean Writing Today (Mawenzi House, Toronto). He is a former Poet Laureate of Ottawa (1984-87). He has taught Writing for many years at the University of Ottawa.

His poem “Under Lock & Key” can be read on our website at canlit.ca/article/under-lock-key.

Canadian Literature issue 239, 60th Anniversary, is available to order through our online store.


60th Anniversary Author Spotlight – Jamie Paris

March 10, 2020

Jamie Paris is an Assistant Professor of English at Corpus Christi College at the University of British Columbia. His doctoral dissertation focused on the tragedies of William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. Dr. Paris’ work is focused on intersectionality, with a specific interest in whiteness studies and critical race studies. This has led him to spend more time studying contemporary Canadian and First Nations literature and culture. This paper is part of a larger research project exploring nondominative masculinities in contemporary Canadian Black and First Nations literature.

 

Article
“‘Men break when things like that happen’: On Indigenous Masculinities in Katherena Vermette’s The Break

Abstract
This article addresses inner-city Métis and Indigenous Masculinities in Métis novelist, documentary filmmaker, and poet Katherena Vermette’s The Break. The critical reception of Vermette’s novel has focused on the strength and resilience of the women in the text. While this novel primarily focalizes Indigenous and Métis women, Vermette is also interested in masculinity, and in articulating ways of being male that will allow Indigenous and Métis women not to need to be as strong and resilient. Vermette rejects models of Indigenous and Métis masculinity that focus on perceived deficits in Indigenous and Métis men while showing the impacts of “good men” on Indigenous women. She contrasts this with the impact of toxic settler masculinities, masculinities that create fragility.  In this way, this is a novel about masculinity and the North End of Winnipeg, and the way that growing up in living in the North End complicate Indigenous and Métis masculinity.

Canadian Literature issue 239, 60th Anniversary, is available to order through our online store.


60th Anniversary Author Spotlight – Meredith Quartermain

March 3, 2020

© Imaging by Marlis 2012

Meredith Quartermain’s fourth book of poetry, Lullabies in the Real World, appears in spring 2020 from NeWest Press. Her first collection, Vancouver Walking, won a BC Book Award for Poetry, and Nightmarker was a finalist for a Vancouver Book Award. Other books include Recipes from the Red Planet (finalist for a BC Book Award in fiction); I, Bartleby: short stories; and U Girl: a novel.

Her poem “Half Way” can be read on our website at canlit.ca/article/half-way.

Canadian Literature issue 239, 60th Anniversary, is available to order through our online store.


60th Anniversary Author Spotlight – Jenny Kerber

February 25, 2020

Jenny Kerber is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. She teaches and researches in the areas of Canadian literature, environmental humanities, border studies, Indigenous literatures, and the literature of sport.

 

Article
“Corrosive Aesthetics: On the Receiving End of Oil and Gas in Who by Fire

Abstract
This article explores the politics of Alberta oil and gas in Fred Stenson’s 2014 novel Who By Fire. Stenson’s text raises timely questions about the petroleum industry both from the perspectives of those who work in it, and those who live with its attendant risks. For instance, how does one articulate sensory encounters with oil and gas development in ways that will generate official responses that move beyond bland statements of empathy? And, when it comes to addressing pollution, to what extent can allies within industry aid affected citizens? Drawing on the work of contemporary petrocritics, I look at how Stenson develops the key metaphor of corrosion to understand industry’s effects on human and ecosystem health in Alberta, while at the same time demonstrating the limits of leaving the responsibility for containment in the hands of industry alone.

Canadian Literature issue 239, 60th Anniversary, is available to order through our online store.


60th Anniversary Author Spotlight – Prathna Lor

February 18, 2020

Prathna Lor is a poet and scholar who teaches and writes on race, sex, ethics, and poetics. Their poetry and writing have appeared in TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, the minnesota review, Jacket2, C Magazine, DIAGRAM, Black Warrior Review, Hobart, Vinyl, Haunt: A Journal of Art, Plenitude Magazine, and elsewhere. Prathna is the author of two chapbooks, Ventriloquism (Future Tense Books, 2010) and, most recently, 7, 2 (Knife Fork Books, 2019). They are currently completing their first, full-length book, HEROISM/EULOGIES.

Their poem “In the archive of sensuality” can be read on our website at canlit.ca/article/in-the-archive-of-sensuality.

Canadian Literature issue 239, 60th Anniversary, is available to order through our online store.


60th Anniversary Author Spotlights: Forum Authors

February 11, 2020

L-R: Karina Vernon, Carrie Dawson, Gillian Roberts, and Lily Cho

Karina Vernon

Karina Vernon is Associate Professor of English at the University of Toronto Scarborough where she researches and teaches Canadian literature with a special focus on black Canadian literature, archives, critical race theory, multiculturalism, and black-Indigenous solidarities. Her book The Black Prairie Archives: An Anthology (2019) brings to light a previously hidden archive of black writing, from the eighteenth-century black fur traders to contemporary writers. She is currently at work on two SSHRC-funded projects: Black Art and the Aesthetics of Spatial Justice, and, with her collaborator Winfried Siemerling, Call and Response-ability: Black Canadian Art and the Politics of Relation.

Carrie Dawson

Carrie Dawson is the Dean of Arts and Science at Mount Saint Vincent University. Her recent scholarly work focuses on the representation of refugees and undocumented people in contemporary Canadian literature and culture.

Gillian Roberts

Gillian Roberts is Associate Professor of North American Cultural Studies at the University of Nottingham. She is the author of Discrepant Parallels: Cultural Implications of the Canada-US Border (2015) and Prizing Literature: The Circulation and Celebration of National Culture (2011), editor of Reading between the Borderlines: Cultural Production and Consumption across the 49th Parallel (2018), and co-editor, with David Stirrup, of Parallel Encounters: Culture at the Canada-US Border (2014).

Lily Cho

Lily Cho’s research focuses on diasporic subjectivity within the fields of cultural studies, postcolonial literature and theory, and Asian North American and Canadian literature. She is co-editor of Human Rights and the Arts: Perspectives on Global Asia. This book rethinks the contexts and subjects of human rights by taking its lead from writers, artists, filmmakers, and dramatists in Asia and the Asian diaspora. Her book, Eating Chinese: Culture on the Menu in Small Town Canada, examines the relationship between Chinese restaurants and Canadian culture. Her book, Mass Capture: Chinese Head Tax Certificates and the Making of Non-Citizens is forthcoming from McGill-Queen’s University Press. This book examines Chinese Canadian head tax certificates known as “C.I. 9’s.” Drawing from this archive, her research explores the relationship between citizenship, photography, and anticipation as a mode of agency. She is a co-editor of, and regular contributor to, the blog, Hook & Eye.

 

“North of Sixty: Surviving CanLit” by Nicholas Bradley

Canadian Literature celebrated its sixtieth anniversary in 2019—at a time when the broader world of Canadian literature has been in nothing resembling a festive mood. When the journal’s first issue was published in 1959, it would have been difficult to envision that, sixty years later, the critical conversation would be epitomized by phrases such as Resisting Canada (see Matuk) and CanLit in Ruins (see McGregor, Rak, and Wunker). Yet here we are.

At the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at UBC in June, the journal hosted a panel discussion with ACCUTE—“CanLit and Canadian Literature”—intended to explore the place of institutions in a field that has been profoundly affected in recent years by acrimonious and polarizing public controversies; engaged in uneasy reckonings with its own limitations, oversights, and injustices; and riven by doubt and conflict. Panellists were asked to consider Canadian literature and literary studies by taking up such questions as: What are the necessary scholarly and public conversations today? What discourses of critique will lead to productive inquiry? How do journals and other institutions shape the field? And how can a more expansive and inclusive Canadian literature be imagined? The essays in this special forum emerge from the panel at Congress. They emphasize the importance of accountability and self-awareness for scholars and teachers of Canadian literature, and are evidence of the complexity of relationships between those individual practitioners and the institutions that influence and even sustain them.

When Canadian Literature turned fifty in 2009, a group of critics was invited to reflect on significant issues; their statements, as Laura Moss wrote in her Introduction to the “Interventions” section of issue no. 204, “mark[ed] the past fifty years while thinking forward to challenges in the field in the future” (103). The following essays suggest that the future of Canadian literary studies is now less certain, or at least less clear, than a decade ago. Lily Cho and Carrie Dawson look back at the fiftieth anniversary to show how much has changed in ten years, while Gillian Roberts writes about the difficulty and ambivalence inherent in teaching Canadian literature today—in her particular case, in the United Kingdom in the era of Brexit. At fifty, a future was presumed, and could be multiply conceived. At sixty, that very future is an open question. Karina Vernon proposes that one way forward is “to remember the genealogies of struggle developed within Canadian literature as critical discourse”—to rethink, in other words, the history of the field itself.

The anniversary of Canadian Literature is a time of reflection, but the sober conversations taking place here, as in other venues, hold the promise of genuine transformation of the ways in which we teach and write about literature in Canada—and of renewed engagement with the reasons for doing so. Journals, presses, courses, and even disciplinary formations come and go, but the impulses that underlie literary studies exceed any single institution, no matter how venerable. Together, we are in the business of reading and writing, of listening and responding, with care, precision, and creativity. In a time of social and political disharmony—and, I would add, environmental calamity—language and imagination, and the uses to which they are put, demand our attention and commitment. Whoever we are, our survival depends on it.

Works Cited

“Interventions.” 50th Anniversary Interventions, special issue of Canadian Literature, no. 204, 2010, pp. 103-62.

Matuk, Nyla, editor. Resisting Canada: An Anthology of Poetry. Signal, 2019.

McGregor, Hannah, Julie Rak, and Erin Wunker, editors. Refuse: CanLit in Ruins. Book*hug, 2018.

Moss, Laura. “Introduction: Generous and Grounded Connections.” 50th Anniversary Interventions, special issue of Canadian Literature, no. 204, 2010, pp. 103-08.

Canadian Literature issue 239, 60th Anniversary, is available to order through our online store.


Rescaling CanLit: Global Readings Author Spotlight – Sherry Johnson

December 30, 2019

Sherry Johnson is the author of two books of poetry: Hymns to Phenomena which was given the inaugural Relit award for Canadian poetry, and Pale Grace which gathers poems written between the ages of 18-21. Her poetry has appeared in many journals, magazines and anthologies, including The Fiddlehead, Grain, Canadian Literature, Exile, The Canadian Forum, and Open Wide a Wilderness: Canadian Nature Poems (WLU Press, 2009). A hardcore cinéphile, Johnson has also published many articles on film, on works by directors such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda, Jerzy Skolimowski, Nicholas Ray, and others. Her film articles have appeared in Taste of Cinema, MUBI Notebook, Fandor Keyframe, Senses of Cinema (Australia), and the Swedish academic journal Film International.

Her poem “Fruit as Still Life / Vruchten als stilleven” can be read on our website at canlit.ca/article/fruit-as-still-life.

Canadian Literature issue 238, Rescaling CanLit: Global Readings, is available to order through our online store.