Shifting the Ground of Canadian Literary Studies is a collection of interdisciplinary essays that examine the various contexts—political, social, and cultural—that have shaped the study of Canadian literature and the role it plays in our understanding of the Canadian nation-state. The essays are tied together as instances of critical practices that reveal the relations and exchanges that take place between the categories of the literary and the nation, as well as between the disciplinary sites of critical discourses and the porous boundaries of their methods. They are concerned with the material effects of the imperial and colonial logics that have fashioned Canada, as well as with the paradoxes, ironies, and contortions that abound in the general perception that Canada has progressed beyond its colonial construction.
Smaro Kamboureli’s introduction demonstrates that these essays engage with the larger realm of human and social practices—throne speeches, book clubs, policies of accommodation of cultural and religious differences, Indigenous thought about justice and ethics—to show that literary and critical work is inextricably related to the Canadian polity in light of transnational and global forces.
``Shifting the Ground of Canadian Literary Studies explores the shift towards a foregrounding of the situational and material conditions influencing the production of Canadian literature. ... [It] is a work of considerable scholarly achievement. Copiously annotated and with a comprehensive index, it is an excellent source for all interested in exploring the new direction of Canadian studies in the first decade of this millennium. ''- Jane Mattisson Ekstam, Cantext, March 2013
``Smaro Kamboureli's TransCanada Institute produces cultural interventions that actively conjugate Canadian literary study into the present progressive tense. ... Shifting the Ground of Canadian Literary Studies and Producing Canadian Literature . .. make important contributions to the groundswell of methodological shifts in contemporary criticism seeking to unsettle the ‘national’ and ‘literary’ assumptions evoked by the category of ‘Canadian literature,’ from its production to its reception. ... ‘Nation-state, culture, and indigeneity’ broadly triangulate the highly interdisciplinary essays, which are individually strong though widely divergent. Their share ground is a reflexive concern with methodology, or the methodological questions arising when conceptions of ‘nation’ and ‘literature’ are suitably shifted. ... Together with [Producing Canadian Literature,] these TransCanada books should be read by Canadianists not for what they say about actual literary works—which is little, and not really their project—but for how they open the field itself by crossing it from exterior entry points. Absent of the literature, their contribution is more to the study of the study of CanLit—an increasingly undisciplined discipline. ''- Brendan McCormack, Canadian Literature, 220, Spring 2014
``Given the wide range of approaches and disciplines included in this volume, the index is particularly helpful in terms of orientation and contains not only major concepts and historical events related to Canadian studies, but also refers to important representatives of the Canadian literary scene. Moreover, each articles comes with an annotated section which, together with the overall bibliography, provides useful and interesting suggestions for further reading and discussion. The book's strengths certainly lie in the fact that it manages to emphasize the importance of the nation-state which, in spite of all cosmopolitan, global, and transnational developments at work, continues to serve as an important conceptual framework within the area of Canadian literary studies. Thus this volume is especially valuable for Canadian literary scholars and critics interested in the current debates centering on the nation with regard to (trans)national and global challenges. ''- Felicitas Schweiker, Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies, 25.2, September 2014
``This text represents a continuation of a significant groundswell in the realignment of the cultural criteria defining not just Canadian literature, but also Canadian culture and politics. By clear inference the value of such self-reflexive examination extends well beyond the borders of Canada and provides a relationship for a broadened redefinition of literature in general as well as Canadian literature and national indentity. ... The historicity of literature as well as its communicative character should presuppose a relation of work, audience, and new work which takes the form of a dialogue as well as a process, and which can be understood in the relationship of message and receiver as well as in the relationship of question and answer, problem and solution. Shifting the Ground is about just that: the relation of old work and old voices to the new work and new voices in building a collective consciousness. While controversial, it is without question a critically important anthology of texts. ''- Christopher Ward, Transnational Literature, November 2013