June 29, 2020

June 29, 2020

Dear Canadian Literature Contributors,

Please note that OJS migration to PKP is taking place on June 29th, 2020. On this day changes will not be able to be made to OJS. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.

All the best,
Canadian Literature


New Videos: Six Poets at Sixty Years of Canadian Literature

June 11, 2020

For many of us in the field of literary writing and criticism, early June is typically a time for coming together at Congress in the company of our various communities to share in the exciting exchange of words and ideas. While things are different this year with the unfortunate cancellation of an in-person Congress due to the Covid-19 pandemic, moving critical dialogues online has facilitated exchanges virtually around the pressing 2020 theme “Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism.”

One year ago at this time, Canadian Literature celebrated its sixtieth anniversary during Congress 2019 here at UBC. To mark the milestone, we hosted a poetry reading featuring six innovative writers who have contributed to our history as journal and who continue to shape our ongoing dialogues and future directions in Canadian literature: Jordan AbelSonnet L’AbbéDaphne MarlattCecily NicholsonShazia Hafiz Ramji, and Rita Wong. As we reflect on how much the world has both changed and not changed since then—and on the crucial role literature will continue to play in analyzing and articulating our responses to a rapidly changing world now and in the days to come—it is an ideal time to mark the one-year anniversary of that event by sharing the words of these poets on our website.

We are excited to present here videos of the series of readings that took place on June 1, 2019, in the Coach House of UBC’s Green College, on the unceded, ancestral, and traditional territories of the Musqueam people. Introduced by our Associate Editor Nicholas Bradley, and emceed by our Poetry Editor Phinder Dulai, the standing-room-only event was both a joyous celebration of poetry and the journal, and a welcome opportunity for critical, creative dialogue about some of the most insistent challenges that constitute Canada’s present and the landscape of Canadian literature. We hope you will enjoy viewing these poets’ readings now as much as we enjoyed hosting it a year ago.

We will be highlighting one video per week for the next six weeks. We begin with Sonnet L’Abbé.


Canadian Literature High School Initiative: Special Offer Extended

June 1, 2020

In March 2020, Canadian Literature sent complimentary packages of two back issues of our journal to over 300 secondary school libraries across Canada. A teacher at a local Vancouver school had reached out to ask us if we had any spare issues of the journal that she could show to her grade 12 AP students. She wanted them to connect with a physical copy of the academic journal and to hold literary scholarship in their hands. Recognizing that it was better to have back issues of the journal in her students’ hands than on our storage shelves, we were totally happy to share. Her request stayed with us. It made us realize that exploring the contents of the journal and its print culture material might be of interest to other students and educators as well. We are always looking for ways to share ideas about the study of Canadian writing. So, we started a project—Th­e Canadian Literature High School Initiative—of circulating copies of our journal to a range of libraries at secondary schools in all provinces and territories, compliments of Canadian Literature. We hope this initiative helps build connections between high school readers and university scholarship.

To support the initiative, we are o­ffering Canadian secondary schools a special institutional Subscription Rate for four print copies this year: Issues 240-243 for $130 (with GST=$136.50) instead of the regular institutional rate of $245. We have extended this special offer to be available until September 30, 2020.


George Bowering wins 27th George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award

May 28, 2020

Congratulations to George Bowering for winning this year’s George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award!

Since 1995, the Award annually honours an outstanding literary career in British Columbia. Co-sponsored by BC BookWorld and the Vancouver Public Library, the $5,000 prize is awarded to a BC author whose enduring contribution to society spans several decades. The Award is also sponsored by Dr. Yosef Wosk, the Writers’ Trust of Canada, and the Pacific BookWorld News Society.

A poet, novelist, historian, and biographer of over 100 books, George Bowering has been recognized for his extraordinary accomplishments over the years. In 2000, he was named Canada’s First Poet Laureate. The much lauded Officer of the Order of Canada has won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 1969, the Governor General’s Award for Fiction in 1980, the Nichol Chapbook Award for Poetry in both 1991 and 1992, the Canadian Author’s Association Award for Poetry in 1993, and was awarded an Honourary Degree (D. Litt.) from the University of British Columbia in 1994.

We wish George all the best and look forward to what comes next.

For a Q&A with George Bowering and a list of his works published in Canadian Literature, see here.


On the Pivot to Digital

May 26, 2020

This May, many of us have turned our attention to the unique challenges of course design for alternate delivery in the Fall. Questions of access, equity, and digital literacy inform our search for an effective pedagogical approach. Some of our questions are material—Will our students have quiet study spaces, access to a computer and enough bandwidth? Some of our questions are about practice—How will we engage our students? How will we ensure the integrity of our learning outcomes?

Much like how storytelling changed in the shift from radio to TV, the multi-modal realities of a digital learning space encourage us to rethink the core elements of our practice—the lecture, the discussion, the readings, the assessment.

But how? We might turn to the principles of the open education movement as an initial guide. The CanLit Guides project, for example, was developed as an open online educational resource. One goal of that project was to expand access to quality learning resources, minimizing barriers to participation and learning in the field of Canadian literature.

Another goal was flexibility in the design of teaching and learning resources. The chapters in the Guides can be used individually or built into comprehensive course packs. They can be used to support independent learning as stand-alone lessons or as part of a blended approach to guided or facilitated learning. They can be used both to support students in asynchronous learning and to facilitate synchronous discussion.

As we design for access and flexibility in a digital space, how we use synchronous and asynchronous engagement must necessarily change; as synchronous contact becomes a more rare and precious resource, we must think carefully about when and how we can use it. To help with this, we can turn to open, accessible, and flexible teaching and learning resources, like the Guides, which combine the student experiences of reading, lecture, and activity in new ways.

—Shannon Smyrl, Assistant Editor, CanLit Guides


Call for Papers for a Special Issue on “Pandemics”

May 20, 2020

On March 11, 2020, the WHO officially declared the outbreak of COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. Similar to many other countries around the world, Canada closed its schools, borders, businesses, and other facilities and implemented measures such as social distancing and restricted gatherings as it tried to slow the spread of coronavirus and equip hospitals and other sites with sufficient amounts of personal protective equipment. Amongst other things, the pandemic has highlighted the challenges of balancing the physical and mental wellbeing of individuals and communities with the economic needs of individuals, families, and businesses. During this time, much of the labour of caring for the sick, elderly and other vulnerable populations, staffing grocery stores and meat production plants, harvesting crops, and delivering food has come from low-paid, racialized, and/or temporary migrant workers. And as we look towards the future, government and public health officials warn us that a second wave of the virus could take place since a vaccine has yet to be developed. The pandemic has dramatically changed our social and political landscapes; for example, we now routinely rely on new forms of technology to maintain intimate and professional relationships as we avoid physical contact with those outside of our ‘bubble.’

Photo by Laura Moss, Vancouver BC, April 2020

Over the past couple of months, our collective vocabularies have grown as we hear from public officials about the fact that we are now in ‘uncertain and unprecedented times’ and that we need to adjust to the ‘new normal.’ But what exactly do phrases like these mean? What role does storytelling play in dealing with the complexities of this moment? What historical precedents can we turn to? From Kevin Kerr’s play Unity (1918) to novels such as Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Larissa Lai’s recent The Tiger Flu and films like Don McKellar’s Last Night, Tony Burgess’ Pontypool, and Jeff Barnaby’s Blood Quantum, issues around pandemics, contagion, and quarantine are not new to Canadian culture. How can Canadian literary and cultural production help us understand this moment, our shifting realities, and changing national and global imaginaries? Can we historicize our current crisis by, for example, turning to earlier discourses of disease, outbreaks, and the disciplining of racialized and Indigenous bodies? What new global understandings can we gain by comparing Canada to other nations as we all respond to this pandemic? How does the current pandemic exacerbate the precarities of academic life in the humanities and beyond? How have writers and artists configured pandemics in the past? In the present?

This special issue invites contributions that reflect critically upon pandemics and Canadian cultural production, which includes literature and many other forms of cultural expression. We are particularly interested in submissions that offer new forms of cultural critique and that investigate the cultural logics of pandemics. Possible topics and themes may include but are not limited to:

  • Contagion, disease, and outbreaks
  • The problem of borders
  • Curtailment of transnational movement / migration
  • Rise in nationalism and a return to protectionism
  • Global capital and the postwar welfare state
  • States of vulnerability with regards to age, gender, sexuality, class, race, precarious and mobile labour
  • Dystopic imaginaries
  • Reimagining space and spatial relations
  • Affective dimensions of self-isolation and pandemics
  • Temporalities such as the COVID-19 timeline, times of emergency, fear of the future, nostalgia for pre-pandemic time, the unmarked sense of time during isolation
  • Racist group blame and the rise of anti-Asian violence
  • New forms of creativity and expectations of productivity
  • Online teaching and rethinking pedagogy
  • Social justice in the time of pandemic
  • Surveillance, technology, contact tracing, and public health
  • Narrative medicine, rhetoric of health and medicine, and medical humanities

All submissions to Canadian Literature must be original, unpublished work. Essays should follow current MLA bibliographic format (MLA Handbook, 8th ed.). Word length for articles is 6,500-7,000 words, which includes endnotes and works cited.

The journal recognizes that the current moment is full of challenges and precarities for the Canadian Literature community. We are open to considering submissions that go outside the bounds of conventional research articles, especially collaborative efforts. Please feel free to contact the journal’s incoming editor, Christine Kim, at canlit.editor@ubc.ca, to discuss ideas ahead of time.

Submissions should be uploaded to OJS by the deadline of August 31, 2020. Our Submission Guidelines can be found at canlit.ca/submissions.

General questions about the special issue may be directed to can.lit@ubc.ca.


Appel de textes pour le numéro spécial « Pandémies »

May 20, 2020

Le 11 mars 2020, l’OMS a officiellement déclaré l’état de pandémie mondiale face à l’épidémie de la COVID-19. Comme plusieurs autres pays à travers le monde, le Canada a ainsi fermé ses écoles, ses frontières, ses entreprises et autres installations, en plus d’avoir mis en œuvre des mesures comme la distanciation sociale et l’interdiction de rassemblements afin de ralentir la propagation du coronavirus, puis préparer les hôpitaux et autres établissements de soin en leur procurant des quantités suffisantes d’équipements de protection individuelle. Entre autres choses, la pandémie a mis en relief les défis que représente le maintien de l’équilibre entre le bien-être physique et mental des individus et des communautés, puis les besoins économiques des personnes, des familles et des entreprises. Durant cette période, la majeure partie du travail qui consiste à prendre soin des malades, des aîné.e.s et des populations vulnérables, à offrir les services essentiels dans les épiceries et les usines de production de viande, à travailler aux champs, ou à assurer la livraison de la nourriture, a été effectuée par des travailleuses et des travailleurs très souvent mal payés, des personnes racisées, migrantes et/ou ayant un statut précaire. Et alors même que nous entrevoyons l’avenir, les gouvernements et les représentants de la santé publique nous avertissent qu’une deuxième vague du virus pourrait survenir dès lors qu’aucun vaccin n’a encore été développé. Dans ce contexte, la pandémie a radicalement changé nos rapports sociaux et politiques ; par exemple, puisque nous évitons les contacts physiques avec les personnes à l’extérieur de notre cercle restreint, nous comptons désormais, et ce quotidiennement, sur les nouvelles formes de technologie pour maintenir nos relations personnelles et professionnelles.

Photo de Laura Moss, Vancouver BC, avril 2020

Depuis quelques mois, notre vocabulaire collectif s’est modifié au contact des discours des autorités publiques qui soulignent que nous sommes actuellement dans une « situation incertaine et sans précédent », et que nous devons nous ajuster à cette « nouvelle normalité ». Mais qu’est-ce que de tels propos veulent dire au juste ? Quel est le rôle de la littérature, ou des récits, dans notre manière de négocier avec les complexités de la situation actuelle ? Quels sont les précédents historiques vers lesquels nous pouvons nous tourner ? Que l’on pense à la pièce Unity (1918) de Kevin Kerr, à des romans comme Station Eleven d’Emily St John Mandel et The Tiger Flu de Larissa Lai, à des films comme Last Night de Don McKellars, Pontypool de Tony Burgess et Blood Quantum de Jeff Barnaby, force est de constater que les thèmes de la pandémie, de la contagion, et de la mise en quarantaine ne sont pas nouveaux dans la culture canadienne. Ainsi, comment les productions littéraires et culturelles canadiennes peuvent-elles nous aider à mieux comprendre ce moment historique, ses réalités changeantes, et nous permettre de changer les imaginaires nationaux et globaux ? Est-il possible de produire un historique de la crise actuelle en se tournant, par exemple, vers des discours antérieurs qui ont abordé la maladie, les épidémies et la manière dont les corps, racisés et autochtones, ont été disciplinés sous ce couvert ? Quels nouveaux savoirs globaux peuvent être générés en comparant comment le Canada et d’autres nations ont répondu à la crise ? Comment est-ce que la pandémie actuelle met-elle de l’avant la précarité de la vie académique dans le domaine des sciences humaines et au-delà ? De quelles manières, par le passé, les écrivain.e.s et les artistes ont-ils configuré les pandémies ? Puis, qu’en est-il des productions contemporaines ?

Ce numéro spécial invite des réflexions critiques au sujet des pandémies et des productions canadiennes, ce qui inclut la littérature de même qu’une pluralité d’expressions culturelles. Nous sommes particulièrement intéressés par des contributions qui offrent de nouvelles formes de critique culturelle et qui réfléchissent à la logique culturelle des pandémies. Les textes peuvent aborder les sujets et les thèmes suivants, sans toutefois s’y restreindre :

  • La contagion, la maladie, les épidémies
  • Le problème des frontières
  • La restriction des migrations et des mouvements transnationaux
  • La montée des nationalismes et le retour du protectionnisme
  • L’économie globale et la prospérité d’après-guerre
  • Les formes de vulnérabilité en fonction de l’âge, du genre, de la sexualité, de la classe sociale, de la race, de la précarité des travailleuses et des travailleurs
  • Les imaginaires dystopiques
  • Repenser l’espace et les relations spatiales
  • Les dimensions affectives liées au confinement en temps de pandémie
  • La pluralité des temporalités : la temporalité de la COVID-19, l’état d’urgence, la peur du futur, la nostalgie du temps d’avant la pandémie, l’absence de repères temporels pendant le confinement
  • Le racisme dirigé contre certains groupes et la montée de la violence anti-asiatique
  • Les nouvelles formes de créativité et les attentes en termes de productivité
  • Repenser la pédagogie pour l’enseignement en ligne
  • La justice sociale en temps de pandémie
  • La santé publique, la surveillance, les technologies et les enquêtes épidémiologiques/la recherche de cas et de contacts
  • La narration médicale, la rhétorique en santé, en médecine et dans les humanités médicales

Toutes les contributions soumises à Canadian Literature doivent être originales et inédites. Les articles doivent se conformer aux normes bibliographiques du MLA (MLA Handbook, 8e édition). Les textes doivent contenir entre 6500 et 7000 mots, en incluant les notes de fin et la bibliographie.

La revue est consciente que les défis et les précarités engendrés par la situation actuelle touchent la communauté entourant Canadian Literature. Aussi, nous sommes ouverts à des soumissions qui sortent de la forme conventionnelle des articles de recherche, et en particulier à des projets de collaboration. N’hésitez pas à contacter la nouvelle directrice de la revue, qui entre en poste le 1er Juillet, Christine Kim (canlit.editor@ubc.ca), si vous souhaitez discuter de vos propositions avant la date de tombée des articles.

Les soumissions doivent être téléchargées sur le portail OJS au plus tard le 31 août 2020. Le guide des soumissions est disponible ici : canlit.ca/submissions.

Enfin, toutes les questions d’ordre général au sujet de ce numéro peuvent être envoyées directement à can.lit@ubc.ca.


New Editor of Canadian Literature, Christine Kim

May 7, 2020

We are pleased to announce that on July 1, 2020, Christine Kim will become the new editor of Canadian Literature. She will take up the position of Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures at UBC and will assume the editorship of Canadian Literature for the next five years. Currently, she is an Associate Professor of English at Simon Fraser University, and co-Director of SFU’s Institute for Transpacific Cultural Research. Christine brings a wealth of editorial experience, a clear vision, and a dynamic range of expertise to Canadian Literature. She has inspiring ideas about extending the public reach of the journal and practical initiatives on how to deal with the challenges of Open Access. Her own research focuses on diasporic literatures and cultures in Canada, and considers how they are embedded in global structures of settler colonialism, imperialism, and nationalism. Dr. Kim is the author of The Minor Intimacies of Race: Asian Publics in North America (2016) and co-editor of special issues of Canadian LiteratureInter-Asia Journal of Cultural Studies, a section of West Coast Line, and Cultural Grammars of Nation, Diaspora, and Indigeneity in Canada (2012). We look forward to the new directions the journal will be taking under her guidance, and congratulate her once more on the appointment. Welcome to our new editor, Christine Kim!


National Poetry Month 2020

April 28, 2020

As we near the end of National Poetry Month, we too want to pause to pay attention to the centrality of poetry in our cultures and our lives. Since it began in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month has grown to become a significant literary celebration. During this challenging time of global pandemic, poetry has become an outlet for people to seek comfort, solace, and distraction. In the words of the Academy, “we can rely on poems to offer wisdom, uplifting ideas, and language that prompts reflection that can help us slow down and center mentally, emotionally, spiritually.” To focus on the key role that poetry has played at the journal from the beginning, we suggest you have a look at our poetry-themed back issues here and our CanLit Guide on Poetic Visuality and Experimentation here. Finally, if you want to help support poets and poetry in Canada during this time, we recommend a helpful list of resources posted by The League of Canadian Poets.

—Niamh Harold, Editorial Assistant


Message from Canadian Literature

April 7, 2020

Greetings from Canadian Literature. We are living in an unprecedented time of sadness and uncertainty, and, also at points, beautiful community togetherness. We hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy in this challenging time of COVID-19. Because of the need for physical distancing (and at the directive of UBC), our physical office closed on March 16 and will remain closed until at least the end of April, and likely longer. During this time we have been adapting to working remotely. We are now continuing to edit articles, solicit reviews, process submissions, and do our best to keep the journal in operation. After some adjustments, we think this might just work. We continue to accept submissions and will continue to reach out to our valued community members to seek readers reports. We just ask for your patience as everything will inevitably take longer than normal. We know that many of our academic colleagues who we rely on for articles, reviews, and reports have had a difficult transition to working remotely (whether taking classes online or having to relocate to safer spaces). We want to express our deep gratitude and support to all of you.

During this hard time, we are also thinking of all of the scholars, artists, writers, and poets who have published in our pages. We are heartened to see how people are turning to books for comfort and stimulation, and finding ways to support independent publishers and their favourite local artists and booksellers at this time when support is most needed. A number of bookstores in Vancouver where we are located (including Kidsbooks, Massy Books, Pulpfiction Books, and The Paper Hound Bookshop) are either doing book delivery or curbside pickup. We understand that Turning the Tide is doing the same in Saskatoon, as is Type Books in Toronto, among others across the country. We hope that our readers will continue to support Canadian writing in these new ways.

Stay safe, everyone.

All our best,
The Canadian Literature team