New Issue: 251 — Poetics and Extraction

April 12, 2023

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Canadian Literature, Issue 251: Poetics and Extraction. Guest Editors Melanie Dennis Unrau and Max Karpinski write in their editorial:

The articles, statements of poetics, poems, and book reviews collected in this special issue on poetics and extraction speak to the theme from a range of perspectives—positioned, variously, as critical of, observing, opposed to, entangled in, harmed by, mimicking, enacting, subverting, averting, transforming, and finding alternatives to extraction and extractivism. As literary scholars, we are interested in the many ways these works apprehend and critique extractivism as a mode of racial capitalism (Gómez-Barris xvii), as a resource relation (Liboiron 145), and as a poetics; yet we are also interested, cautiously, in attending to what they contribute to envisioning good, non-extractive ways of living and being in relation. This would be to think of the work of literary scholarship in the face of ecological and social injustice as not only “the difficult task of understanding the character of [the] barriers” to materializing livable futures (Szeman and Wenzel 519), but also, with Liboiron again, as orienting ourselves “toward an ‘ought’ rather than an ‘is’” (154). Generalizing and speculating, we see a secondary theme both in the content of the issue and in our work and learning as editors: an ethics of care and love that emerges, like Whitehead’s formulation of “making love with the land,” as a poetics running against the current of extraction.

In the texts that follow, you will see instances of radical care, self-care, and love as responses or alternatives to extraction. These take the forms of land and water defence, care for family, harm mitigation, self-protection, refusal, reclamation, revision, manifesto, survival, learning what it means to be beholden to Indigenous law in the places where we live, and more. These submerged and emergent poetics, which must themselves be handled with respect and care, offer clues for how to orient ourselves and our critical and creative work toward new, more just horizons.

– Melanie Dennis Unrau and Max Karpinski, “Poetics and Extraction

This issue also features:

The new issue can be ordered through our online store at Happy reading!

New Issue: 250 — General

February 9, 2023

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Canadian Literature, Issue 250. Nicholas Bradley writes in his editorial:

For whatever reason, I’ve been in a funk, a slump, all year. But in May, in the midst of a cool, damp late spring, no summer in sight, I travelled twice to sunny destinations. First I visited Kamloops and then I flew to Orange County. Two locations with comparable topographies of hills and canyons, a shared palette of tans and greens. Two places in different countries with vastly different populations. Two settings, nearly two and a half thousand kilometres apart, linked by the happenstance of travel. In the lingering era of COVID-19, any trip is unusual, for me at least, and my double excursion took on more significance than I should have allowed. It promised too much.

. . .

The city of Kamloops occupies the traditional territory of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. The former Kamloops Indian Residential School sits across the river from where I sat to do some work. A few years ago I might have guessed that most Canadians, if they had heard of Kamloops at all, associated it with a minor-league hockey team. (English professors think of Wilson’s Swamp Angel [1954].) But now it has become widely known as Canada engages, however haltingly, with its past and present as a colonizing entity. Since the terrible summer of 2021, Kamloops has become synonymous with unmarked graves—their existence and the dismissal thereof—and with the atrocities of that School and the national system of which it was a part. The prime minister expressed regret for the deaths associated with the School, and for choosing to spend the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on holiday in Tofino rather than at Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. Being sorry, saying sorry: it was possible once to joke about a reflexive Canadian deference, but now public apologies have become a central part of governmental attempts to atone for injustices perpetrated by the state (and foibles committed by its representatives). Such gestures can be seen as both necessary and empty. Sorry: in everyday speech, that stereotypically Canadian word is an almost phatic term. Just something we say.

– Nicholas Bradley, “Feeling Sorry”

This issue also features:

The new issue can be ordered through our online store at Happy reading!

In Memory of Y-Dang Troeung

November 27, 2022

Y-Dang Troeung at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus.

It is with heavy hearts that we grieve the passing of our friend, colleague, and Associate Editor, Dr. Y-Dang Troeung. She was a brilliant, insightful, observant, caring, funny, and courageous scholar. Her interventions within the field of Canadian literature—which included profoundly honest writing, a deep mentoring of students, and advocating strongly for BIPOC students, communities, and colleagues—will be felt for many years to come.

Working at the intersection of Canadian literary and cultural studies, transpacific studies, Cold War studies, transnational Asian literatures, critical disability studies, and critical refugee studies, Y-Dang produced a fiercely beautiful and extensive body of writing. We were fortunate to publish some of it in the journal, including
an essay on Madeleine Thien’s Certainty (206, 2010), an interview with Omar El Akkad (with Phanuel Antwi, 240, 2020), and a contribution to a forum on Souvankham Thammavongsa (242, 2020). 

More recently, Y-Dang edited a special issue of Canadian Literature called “Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War” (246, 2021) which draws together single-authored work and collaborative forum conversations by scholars, educators, photographers, artists, filmmakers, and poets based in Canada, the US, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and France. This scholarship does not just seek to make space for the stories of refugees, migrants, and racialized subjects; rather, it demands that we centre these narratives as we reconceptualize Canadian literature and interrogate the scholarship that is produced through and as part of Canadian literary and cultural studies. Y-Dang continued this work throughout her career, most notably in Refugee Lifeworlds (Temple UP, 2022), “Easter Epic” (forthcoming, 2023), and Landbridge (forthcoming, 2023).

Chris Patterson, Y-Dang Troeung, and Kai, 2021. Photo used with permission from Chris Patterson.

Y-Dang published one other short piece in Canadian Literature as part of a forum on Asian Canadian studies. “Alice Munro Country and Refugee Havens,” originally published in Canadian Literature 227 (Winter 2015): 193-194, brings together Asian American studies, Canadian literature, and autotheory. It challenges liberal narratives of Canadian benevolence and opens up space for the stories of refugee families, including her own. Written in a voice that is vulnerable, direct, thoughtful, and uniquely Y-Dang’s, this essay poses crucial questions about the relations between Canadian “havens” and what she calls the “continuous wars of empire” as well as the cruel kindnesses they produce.

Please find below Y-Dang’s short essay “Alice Munro Country and Refugee Havens.” Beneath this essay, we share a tribute by her partner, Chris Patterson, and links to statements about Y-Dang’s passing from UBC’s Department of English Language and Literatures, the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program, the Social Justice Institute, and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. A full list of Y-Dang’s scholarly publications, collaborations, interviews, and multimedia and creative work can be found at the bottom of the statement from the Department of English Language and Literatures.


Alice Munro Country and Refugee Havens

By Y-Dang Troeung

If it is now desirable for Asian Canadian critique to move beyond the nation, what does this mean for the interrogation of local genealogies of Asian Canadian identity that continue to remain invisible? I have been thinking in particular about the history of Southeast Asian refugees in small-town southwestern Ontario, a region of Canada that has for the most part been left of out of discussions of Asian Canadian transnationalism, globalization, and transpacific exchange. Scholar Eric Tang has recently called for a rethinking of transnational methodology in Asian American studies by focusing on those whose migration has been produced not by economic circuits but rather by state war and violence. Whereas Tang examines refugee presence in spaces such as the urban hyperghetto, I’m interested in how the transnational may be accessed through the attention to the rural, and specifically to the presence of the Asian Canadian refugee in the rural.

When Alice Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of pride that a writer from the place “where I was from” had received such world recognition. Having lived the first 18 years of my life in Goderich, Ontario, a small port town on Lake Huron (named after the Huron Indigenous people of North America), I grew up immersed in the world of Alice Munro and her stories. The town of Goderich often appears in Munro’s fiction disguised as Walley, Tupperton, Tiplady, Wawanosh, or Mock Hill. Munro’s stories undeniably helped inspire my deep love of literature at a young age. In the turmoil of my adolescence and the alienation I felt as one of the only Asian bodies in my small town of 7,000 people, I took refuge in her engrossing tales of family betrayal, sexual rebellion, and the strangeness of a familiar place. Hiding away reading in a corner of the only public library in town, Munro’s stories carried me away to an imaginative place, and yet I felt a mixture of recognition and dissonance in how she portrayed the landscapes, rhythms, and feelings of small-town life.

One reviewer comments that Canada’s “dominant author of short fiction, after all, is so identified with small-town Ontario that the rural countryside beyond Toronto is known as Alice Munro Country” (Armstrong 1). Whenever I hear the term “Alice Munro Country,” I feel uneasy about the myths that it perpetuates about this region, myths of white settler inhabitance and homogeneity that make it seem frozen in time. That “Alice Munro Country” continues to be seen as an exceptional space of rural, Canadian whiteness is troubling to me.

As a former refugee from Cambodia whose family, along with that of many other Southeast Asian refugees throughout the 1970s and 1980s, resettled in Huron County in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, I have often wondered, over the years, if my family’s story would ever make into Alice Munro’s fiction. After all, she was well known for drawing inspiration from historical sources, and we made national headlines in December 1980 when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau held a ceremony on Parliament Hill to officially welcome my family, the last of the 60,000 Southeast Asian refugees to be sponsored to Canada as a part of a special government program (“Pierre”). Later, we made it into the history books. As one scholar notes, “St. Peter Catholic’s Church in Goderich sponsored two brothers and their families in December 1980” (McLellan 38). In many small towns or villages across Huron County, from Goderich to Vanastra to Exeter, I knew other Cambodian, Lao, or Vietnamese families who had crossed the Pacific as refugees. Within our communities, stories circulated about the forms of kindness shown to us by our sponsors, as well as the cruel forms of hate and aggression against which we had to constantly steel ourselves. From the factories to the graveyards to the card parties, we established networks of local exchange and leisure to survive.

Over thirty years later, some of these families continue to reside in the county and have put down roots in the region, yet I continue to wait for their stories to be written into the national imaginary. In the literature of new writers such as Kim Thúy, Vincent Lam, Madeleine Thien, and Souvankham Thammavongsa, some of these stories have begun to emerge. On a website called Compassionate Canada, a group of Southeast Asian Canadians have mobilized through social media to provide testimonial accounts of a time when Canada seemed more compassioned towards incoming refugees. These days in Goderich, storefront shop signs in English and Arabic read, “Ah-I-an wan San-I-an Welcome” and “Mar-ha-bun welcome,” and I recently read a story in the town’s local newspaper, the Goderich Signal Star, about how some members of the community had banded together to sponsor a family of Syrian refugees (Broadley n.pag.).

Alice Munro’s 2012 story “Haven” is a subtle and sensitive meditation on the terror of domesticity felt by a regretful white, middle-class woman in the seventies. I’m interested in producing a different kind of narrative about rural southwestern Ontario as a “haven,” one in which the figure of the Asian Canadian refugee, past and present, is central. How have these rural havens been produced through continuous wars of empire? Which refugee affects circulate within these spaces? And what kinds of circuits and economies of exchange help sustain these refugee lifeworlds? These are some of the questions Asian Canadian critique should make room for.


Tribute by Dr. Chris Patterson (UBC GRSJ):

I am sad to give this devastating news that I know will come as a shock to many. My partner and wife, Y-Dang Troeung (張依蘭) (ទ្រឿងអ៊ីដាង), died yesterday, November 27, after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. She was a brilliant author, educator, and the most caring and loving partner, mother, daughter, sister and companion. We have been dealing with her disease for over a year, and much longer without knowing it. Since her diagnosis, her life was enriched daily by friends and family, and we have felt lucky to have so many people come forward and support us with food, discussions, advocation, advice, and most of all, warmth and love. She leaves behind all these loving people, including me, our son Kai, her parents, brothers, and extended family. Her life has been a gift to all of us, and she leaves us with one of her greatest gifts: her book Refugee Lifeworlds. In the coming months, we will receive more gifts from her brilliant and compassionate mind: a short film, “Easter Epic”; a family memoir, Landbridge; and other projects she was able to complete before her death. 



UBC English Language and Literatures Department’s Statement

Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program’s Statement

Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies’ Statement



New Issue: 249 – Pasts, Presents, and Futures of Canadian Comics

November 23, 2022

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Canadian Literature, Issue 249, Pasts, Presents, and Futures of Canadian Comics. Candida Rifkind and Zachary J. A. Rondinelli write in their editorial:

Canadian cartoonists have been prominent voices within the global comics landscape for quite some time, recently their renown has grown thanks to numerous prizes and honorifics. Seth was awarded the Prix Spécial du Jury in 2020 during France’s Festival d’Angoulême and was recently honoured as Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French minister of culture. Joe Ollman’s recent work, Fictional Father, received the distinct honour of becoming the first comic or graphic novel to be nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, and in 2022 Julie Doucet was awarded the Grand Prix at the forty-ninth Angoulême International Comics Festival (the highest award in European cartooning). As Anderson so eloquently puts it in his keynote with Pauls, “[Canadian] work is world-class,” and these recognitions remind us of this important fact. Of course, with this prestige comes a renewed interest in understanding the different traditions and influences that have shaped individual cartoonists and asking how—perhaps even if—their identities as Canadians matter to their art. This special issue represents what we hope will be a reorientation of the Canadian comics conversation, which has long languished in the rhetoric of nationalism and patriotism ignited during the WECA era and refueled in the 1970s when Leishman and Comely’s Tom Evans pulled up his red and white spandex to become Captain Canuck. We say this to reiterate that the story of where Canadian comics began is not the same as when Canadian comics publishing began; contrary to how it might look today, the multi-faceted, aesthetically diverse, and globally networked histories of Canadian comics have yet to be fully captured.

– Candida Rifkind and Zachary J. A. Rondinelli, “Pasts, Presents, and Futures of Canadian Comics”

This issue also features:

The new issue can be ordered through our online store. Happy reading!

New Issue: 248, General

September 16, 2022

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Canadian Literature Issue 248! This is a special issue, as it ushers in our new design updates!

Christine Kim writes in her editorial:

The five articles in this issue pose intriguing questions about archives, storytelling, ways of knowing, language, and metaphor as they examine Tomson Highway’s Kiss of the Fur Queen, David Chariandy’s Soucouyant, Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang, Jordan Scott’s poetry, and Don McKay’s The Book of Moonlight. As a general issue, there was no set of questions for these articles to respond to, and consequently no expectation that there would be a shared focus. The range of scholarship is demonstrated through the subjects, texts, critical approaches, genres, and themes with which the authors engage. And yet, there are still many rich overlaps and shared lines of inquiry that run through these articles—shared lines that are suggestive for reflecting on the field of Canadian literary studies and its connections to other scholarly fields. Reading these articles together reveals how scholars are thinking alongside each other (although not necessarily with each other) about shared interests that span transnational sites, genres, and critical approaches. It also offers a way of conceptualizing the field of Canadian literary studies at this moment.

Focusing on moments of critical coherence is a very different method for approaching the field than most of us have been trained to perform. Such a method compels us to question how we are to define the field of Canadian literature and, moreover, what constitutes the position of the Canadianist. Such an endeavour returns us to questions about how we are to understand the relationship between what we teach in the classroom, the material we research and produce scholarly writing about, our critical approaches (which often extend beyond national borders), and how we define the field of Canadian literary studies itself. Other issues include how we perceive our scholarly and pedagogical interests as being in dialogue with or different from other scholars (contemporary or otherwise) in the field.

—Christine Kim, Reconceptualizing Canadian Generalists


This issue also features:



The new issue can be ordered through our online store. Happy reading!


Past Editor Eva-Marie Kröller Order of Canada Appointee June 2022

July 8, 2022

We are pleased to share that our past Editor-in-Chief Eva-Marie Kröller was appointed to the Order of Canada in June 2022. She is recognized for her contributions to Canadian literature and her achievements as an educator. She holds the position of Professor Emerita at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC).

(left to right) Laurie Ricou, Eva Marie Kröller, W. H. New

Kröller came to the journal in 1995 and worked to recruit an editorial board of distinguished scholars from Canada and abroad and formalized the peer review process used by the previous editors. In order to introduce a diversity of opinions and expertise to the journal, she began a tradition of having guest editors plan and supervise special issues, such as the Contemporary Poetics issue (guest edited by Associate Editor Iain Higgins in 1997) and Gabrielle Helms’ and Susanna Egan’s 2002 Auto/biography issue. Her commitment to representing Canada’s francophone

Photo credit: Michelle Mayne
L – R: Coral Ann Howells, Laura Potter, Eva-Marie Kröller

writers led Kröller to appoint Alain-Michel Rocheleau as Associate Editor of francophone writing. Gradually French-language content increased, and the efforts of Associate Editor Réjean Beaudoin, who became the Associate Editor (Francophone) in 2003, have produced the notable special issues Littérature francophone hors-Québec / Francophone Writing Outside Quebec (2005) and Gabrielle Roy Contemporaine / The Contemporary Gabrielle Roy (2007). Kröller was also responsible for the journal’s transition to electronic publishing, and under her direction the upcoming book reviews were added to Canadian Literature’s website. Kröller edited 32 issues and held the position of Editor-in-Chief until 2003. She won the Council of Editors of Learned Journals’ Distinguished Editor award in 2004, becoming the first Canadian to receive the honour. She became a fellow of the Royal Society in 2006.

Her contributions to Canadian Literature are listed under her author page here.

Many congratulations Eva-Marie!

New Issue: 247, General

May 13, 2022

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Canadian Literature Issue 247!

Christine Kim writes in her editorial:

How might we begin imagining a utopia from our present moment of overwhelming challenges?  The first essay in this issue of Canadian Literature, Pamela Bedore’s “The Aesthetics of Utopian Imaginings in Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light,” opens with this provocative question. In addition to the pandemic, she lists climate change and deep inequality as concerns that have preoccupied the first decades of the twenty-first century. How then can we conceive of a future that is utopic for all, given that we are living in times that seem to hold “a contempt for joy that makes utopia seem not only impossible but perhaps also undesirable” (Bedore)? Imagining a utopia, one that is collectively desired, is a project that seems out of sync with the prevailing pandemic atmosphere of isolation, uncertainty, and division. Indeed, as many people have commented in casual conversation, these are times that feel like they have come out of the pages of dystopian or even speculative fiction. Not only do such fleeting insights respond to the bleakness of the past few years, but they also draw attention to the seemingly shifting relations between fact and fiction as our realities become more surreal and our memories fuzzier.

—Christine Kim, Imagining Endemic Times


This issue also features:

The new issue can be ordered through our online store. Happy reading!

Verse Forward 3: A Poetry Reading Series

April 7, 2022

Activist. Decolonialist. Experimental Poetics.

Verse Forward: Poetry on the Front Lines is a Canadian Literaturepoetry reading series featuring diverse poets speaking to the urgent themes of home, race, identity, and the environment we live in.

We are excited to present award-winning poets Junie Désil, Fiona Lam, and Lillian Allen in the third iteration of Verse Forward, emceed by author Phinder Dulai.

We’ll begin the evening in conversation with the poets, followed by readings, including new work, and an audience Q & A.

The event will be hosted on Zoom. Details will be sent out prior to the event.

Author Bios:

Junie Désil is a poet. Born of immigrant (Haitian) parents on the Traditional Territories of the Kanien’kehá:ka in the island known as Tiohtià:ke (Montréal), raised in Treaty 1 Territory (Winnipeg). Junie’s debut poetry collection Eat Salt | Gaze at the Ocean (TalonBooks, 2020) was a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize.

Fiona Lam is Vancouver’s 6th Poet Laureate. Her poems are featured in Best Canadian Poetry, in the League of Canadian Poets’ Poem in Your Pocket program, and thrice with BC’s Poetry in Transit. Lam won The New Quarterly’s Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Prize and was a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award. Odes and Laments (Caitlin Press, 2019) is her third collection of poetry.

Lillian Allen is a professor of creative writing at Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD). Her most recent poetry collection is Making the World New (Wilfrid UP, 2021). Multi-disciplinary and experimental, Allen’s creativity crosses many genres including radio, theatre, music and film; as writer, featured artist and producer/director and national radio show host.

To learn more about the history of CanLit’s Verse Forward, please visit:

To see past readings, visit:

A Forum on “Poetics, Energy, and Extraction”

March 18, 2022

Canadian Literature‘s CFP for Poetics and Extraction is out now! As a prelude to the issue, our guest editors Melanie Dennis Unrau and Max Karpinski are participating in a forum on “Poetics, Energy, and Extraction.”

Date: Monday, March 21, 2022

Time: 7:00-8:30 pm CDT

Location: Zoom

Registration: email umih (at) for more details!

Hosted by Warren Cariou (U of Manitoba), Melanie Dennis Unrau (U of Manitoba), and Max Karpinski (U of Alberta), with presenters Kazim Ali, Madhur Anand, Lesley Battler, Warren Cariou, Cecily Nicholson, and Douglas Walbourne-Gough.

New Issue: 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War

February 15, 2022

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Canadian Literature, Issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War. Guest Editor Y-Dang Troeung writes in her editorial:


To what extent do the unresolved inheritances of past wars and conflicts become legible only insofar as they offer “lessons” for the contemporary moment? And to what degree is it even possible to cite Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos as a meaningful lesson or cautionary tale for the present when we have yet to adequately look at the example itself, on its own terms? Such rationales also rely upon liberal positivist assumptions of Enlightenment progress, which as critical theorist Alexander Weheliye argues, presuppose “that suffering must always follow the path of wounded attachments in search of recognition from the liberal state” (14). This “liberal notion of wounding” (14) confers legitimacy onto the site of injury only insofar as it illuminates a larger structural pattern. The “exampling” or “lessonification” of suffering also temporally demarcates the event of wars abroad as something that is over and done with, rather than something that is structurally endemic to the enduring imperial conquests of US empire.

– Y-Dang Troeung, “On Refugee Worldmaking


This issue also features:


The new issue can be ordered through our online store. Happy reading!