The CANLIT Project (1973-1981): In Search of the National Reader


CANLIT was a nationalist action-research collective, initiated at York University, that undertook a number of studies and publications (more than twenty-five) during the eight-year lifespan of the project. Commencing in 1972—the same year as the publication of the pivotal manifesto Read Canadia—the group attempted to provide concrete support to Canadian authors and publishers by surveying the CANLIT "literary field"—the functions of authoring, publishing, distribution, book-selling, and reading—and by providing hard data as well as hard-hitting critical analysis. Using CANLIT's publications as well as their archives at the University of Calgary, this essay reconstructs the history of the group, provides an overview of (and bibliography of) their publications, and assesses (in particular) their innovative readership surveys.

This article “The CANLIT Project (1973-1981): In Search of the National Reader” originally appeared in Literary History. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 233 (Summer 2017): 30-49.

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