Science & Canadian Literature

Science & Canadian Literature is a special issue dedicated to the subject of science in/and Canadian poetry and prose.

In the three decades since the last science-themed issue of Canadian Literature appeared, much has changed in both literary and scientific circles. New literary theories have come to shape our critical conversations, new Canadian authors have emerged, publishing has been fundamentally changed with the advent of the Internet; at the same time, sheep have been cloned, food has been genetically modified, computers have shrunk to pocket size. And neither of these circles exists in isolation: each has affected the other, with differences that have made a difference (to borrow the language of ecologist Gregory Bateson) across the disciplinary boundaries.

Canadian writers frequently engage science as a topic in both poetry and prose, and have achieved international recognition for this work. High-profile writers who have special literary interests in science, such as Atwood, Gibson, and Bök, are only part of the story: many other writers engage science as part of their oeuvre, including writers of poetry (Dewdney, McKay, Sarah, Outram, Ormsby), fiction (Wright, Bowling, Lam, Brand, Wong), and non-fiction (Grady, Major, Suzuki, Savage, de Villiers).

Science is commonly perceived as a universal, trans-national entity, but it is interesting to combine it with a national perspective: is there a way in which Canadian literature reframes science as a literary subject? Does a Canadian context influence writing about science (both literary and scientific)? Are there special concerns or issues about science that occur in Canadian writing? While not all articles in the issue need address the nationalism question, we encourage submissions with an eye to the Canadian context.

While the issue is focused on science as theme or form in literature (or on science as literature), not on science fiction or speculative fiction, studies that focus on specific scientific issues or hard science in science fiction (as opposed to social or political topics, ethics, etc.) are welcome (for example: genetic engineering in Oryx and Crake).

Suggested areas for investigation

  • Scientific theories and Canadian literature
  • Scientific language and metaphors in Canadian literature
  • Scientific aspects of medicine and Canadian literature
  • Science, material culture and literature
  • Computers/computer science in literature
  • Science, the environment/ ecology/ natural history and Canadian literature
  • Scientist-biography as a literary subject in Canada or by Canadian writers
  • The representation of scientists in Canadian literature
  • Poetics and science in Canadian writing
  • Science and/as literary form in Canadian writing
  • Science and society in Canadian literature
  • Canadian writers of science in an international context (the Canadian expat scientist)
  • Canada as a scientific subject
  • The culture/science wars from a Canadian perspective
  • Science writing in Canada
  • ’Pataphysics’ (the science of imaginary solutions, cf. Bök) as scientific/literary work
  • Science-technology in Canadian literature

All submissions to Canadian Literature must be original, unpublished work. Essays should follow current MLA bibliographic format (MLA Handbook, 7th ed). Maximum word length for articles is 6500 words, which includes notes and works cited.

Submissions should be uploaded to Canadian Literature’s online submission system at by the deadline of September 1st, 2013.

Questions in advance of the deadline may be addressed to

Amanda Jernigan (, Travis Mason (, and Janine Rogers (