2013 CanLit Best Essay Prize Press Release

Canadian Literature is proud to announce the winner of the 2013 Best Essay Prize.


The winner of the Best Essay Prize goes to Thinking Together: A Forum on Jo-Ann Episkenew’s Taking Back Our Spirits: Indigenous Literature, Public Policy and Healing by Deanna Reder, Susan Gingell, Allison Hargreaves, Daniel Heath Justice, Kristina Bidwell, and Jo-Ann Episkenew. (#214, Autumn 2012)

Jury Citation: According to one jurist, Thinking Together: A Forum is hands down the most productive and stimulating work. Together the jury argued that the forum does a wonderful job of introducing new topics for consideration as well as troubling the very medium of academic discourse. The forum represents multiple engagements with a chosen book; the format is designed to bring this work into conversation with other scholars of different generations working in related areas. The power of this piece lays not only in its attention to the complexities of Indigenous literature and its affective powers, but also in its polyvocal considerations of the transformative potential of literature and its limits. Awarding the prize to an entire forum is unorthodox but the argument about community discourse in the forum justifies the decision.


Honourable Mention goes to Germaine Warkentin for The Age of Frye: Dissecting the Anatomy of Criticism, 1957–1966. (#214, Autumn 2012)

Jury Citation: This article provides an insightful assessment of the early criticism and reception of Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism. In this elegantly styled paper that captures the tone and attitudes of the intellectual elite, Germaine Warkentin also offers a portal through which to view the period, not simply a re-evaluation of Frye’s accomplishment. It is essential reading for those learning about the history of literary criticism in (and outside of) Canada.


Honourable Mention also goes to I. S. MacLaren for Paul Kane’s Wanderings of an Artist and the Rise of Transcontinental Canadian Nationalism. (#213, Summer 2012)

Jury Citation: Through meticulous, immensely detailed historical scholarship, I. S. MacLaren peels back the contemporary designation of Paul Kane as a founding father of Canadian art to reveal an Irish-born, apolitical artist with American connections rather than the customary portrait of a mid-Victorian gentleman who is the symbol of Canadian nationalism. The article demands a new understanding of Kane and the nationalism that created his misrepresentation in Canadian history.


The editor would like to offer profound thanks to the shortlist jury of David Staines, Linda Morra, and Victoria Kuttainen and to the longlist jury of Ian Rae, Patricia Merivale, Cecily Devereux, Jon Kertzer, and David Williams.