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Resituating the Study of Canadian Literature

By Smaro Kamboureli
Edited by Roy Miki
Subjects Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature
Series TransCanada Hide Details
Paperback : 9780889205130, 252 pages, November 2007
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554587186, 252 pages, October 2009

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
Trans. Can. Lit: Resituating the Study of Canadian Literature, edited by Smaro Kamboureli and Roy Miki

Introduction | Smaro Kamboureli


Metamorphoses of a Discipline: Rethinking Canadian Literature Within Institutional Contexts | Diana Brydon

Against Institution: Established Law, Custom, or Purpose | Rinaldo Walcott

From Canadian Trance to TransCanada: White Civility to Wry Civility in the CanLit Project | Daniel Coleman

Subtitling CanLit: Keywords | Peter Dickinson

Oratory on Oratory | Lee Maracle

TransCanada, Literature: No Direction Home | Stephen Slemon

World Famous Across Canada, or TransNational Localities | Richard Cavell

Diasporic Citizenship: Contradictions and Possibilities for Canadian Literature | Lily Cho

Acts of Citizenship: Erin Mourés O Cidadán and the Limits of Worldliness | Lianne Moyes

Trans-Scan: Globalization, Literary Hemispheric Studies, Citizenship as Project | Winfried Siemerling

Transubracination: How Writers of Colour Became CanLit | Ashok Mathur

Institutional Genealogies in the Global Net of Fundamentalisms, Families, and Fantasies | Julia Emberley

TransCanada Collectives: Social Imagination, the Cunning of Production, and the Multilateral Sublime | Len Findlay


Works Cited



Contributors’ Bios

Diana Brydon is Canada Research Chair in Globalization and Cultural Studies at the University of Manitoba, where she specializes in Australian, Canadian, and Caribbean literary studies. Recent publications include a five-volume anthology, Postcolonialism: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies and a co-edited book, Shakespeare in Canada (with Irena Makaryk). Renegotiating Community: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Global Contexts (co-edited with William D. Coleman) is forthcoming from the University of British Columbia Press.

Richard Cavell is the Founding Director of the International Canadian Studies Centre at UBC, the author of McLuhan in Space: A Cultural Geography (2002), the editor of Love, Hate and Fear in Canada’s Cold War (2004), the co-editor, with Peter Dickinson, of Sexing the Maple: A Canadian Sourcebook (2006), and, with Imre Szeman, founding editor of the Cultural Spaces series at the University of Toronto Press, and co-editor of the Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies (29. 1/2 2007) on Cultural Studies in Canada today.

Lily Cho is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Western Ontario. Her research interests include work on diaspora, postcolonial studies, cultural studies, food culture, citizenship, and affect. She is currently completing a book-length study of diaspora and Chinese restaurants in small-town Canada. She is also pursuing a project on Pacific Genealogies, which examines the role of indenture and piracy in the emergence of Asian diaspora subjectivity. Her recent publications include “Asian Canadian Futures: Indenture Routes and Diasporic Passages,” in Essays in Canadian Writing 85 (2006) and “The Turn to Diaspora,” in Topia 17 (2007).

Daniel Coleman is a Canada Research Chair in Diversity in Canadian Literature and Culture who teaches in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. His most recent publications include White Civility (U of Toronto P, 2006) and Recalling Early Canada (co-edited, U of Alberta P, 2005).

Peter Dickinson is Associate Professor in the Department of English at Simon Fraser University. He is the author of Here is Queer: Nationalisms, Sexualities, and the Literatures of Canada (U of Toronto P, 1999) and Screening Gender, Framing Genre: Canadian Literature into Film (U of Toronto P, 2007). With Richard Cavell, he has also co-edited Sexing the Maple: A Canadian Sourcebook (Broadview, 2006).

Julia Emberley is Associate Professor of English at the University ofWestern Ontario. She is the author of Defamiliarizing the Aboriginal: Cultural Practices and Decolonization in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2007), The Cultural Politics of Fur (Cornell University Press, 1997), and Thresholds of Difference: Native Women’s Writing, Feminist Critique, and Postcolonial Theory (University of Toronto Press, 1993). She has recently published articles in The Journal of Visual Culture, Topia, and Fashion Theory, and contributed a book chapter on Gertrude Bell in Literature, Empire and Travel: In the Margins of Anthropology (I. B. Tauris, 2007).

Len Findlay is Professor of English and Director of the Humanities Research Unit at the University of Saskatchewan. Educated at Aberdeen and Oxford, he came to Canada in 1974. Widely published in nineteenth-century European topics and increasingly in Canadian Studies, his recent work includes a new edition of The Communist Manifesto (Broadview, 2004), “Spectres of Canada: Image, Text, Aura, Nation” (UTQ, 2006), “Towards Canada as Aesthetic State: François-Xavier Garneau’s Canadien Poetics” (ECW, 2006), and collaborative projects for the Australian Journal of Aboriginal Education (special issue on Thinking Place) and for the Office of the Treaty Commission of Saskatchewan. He is currently writing a polemic in the vein of George Grant’s, entitled Intent for a Nation, and an intellectual biography of Alexander Morris.

Smaro Kamboureli is the founder and Director of TransCanada Institute and Canada Research Chair in Critical Studies in Canadian Literature at the University of Guelph,where she specializes in Canadian literature and diaspora studies. Her recent publications include Scandalous Bodies: Diasporic Literature in English Canada (Oxford, 2000), which received the Gabrielle Roy prize for Canadian criticism, a second edition of her earlier anthology, Making a Difference: Multicultural Literatures in English Canada (Oxford, 2006), and Roy Kiyooka’s Pacific Rim Letters (NeWest Press), which she edited, with an afterword. The Editor of the TransCanada Series (Wilfrid Laurier UP) and of the Writer as Critic Series (NeWest Press), she is currently co-editing, with Daniel Coleman, The Culture of Research: Retooling the Humanities.

Lee Maracle was born in North Vancouver and is the author of seven novels, a collection of short stories, poetry, and non-fiction works. She has published widely in scholarly journals and fiction/poetry anthologies. Maracle is currently teaching at the University of Toronto. Her awards include the J. T. Stewart Voices of Change Award, the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, and the Wordcraft Circle Writer of the Year Award.

Ashok Mathur is a Canada Research Chair in Cultural and Artistic Inquiry at Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops, BC). He directs the Centre for Innovation in Culture and the Arts in Canada,working with artist-researchers on projects and explorations surrounding the intersection of artistic practice and social/political engagement. His creative and critical work includes fiction, poetry, essays, and cultural organizing around art, performance, and writing.

Roy Miki is a writer, poet, and editor who teaches contemporary literature at Simon Fraser University. He was born in Winnipeg but relocated to the West Coast in the late 1960s. He is the author of Justice in Our Time (co-authored with Cassandra Kobayashi) (Talonbooks, 1991), a documentary history of the Japanese Canadian redress movement in which he actively participated, two books of poems, Saving Face (Turnstone, 1991) and Random Access File (Red Deer College Press, 1995), and a collection of critical essays, Broken Entries: Race, Subjectivity, Writing (Mercury Press, 1998). His third book of poems, Surrender (Mercury Press 2001), received the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. His two most recent publications are Redress: Inside the Japanese Canadian Call for Justice (Raincoast, 2004), a work that explores the Japanese Canadian redress movement through a creative blend of personal reflection, documentary history, and critical examination, and There (New Star Books, 2006), a book of poems. He received the Order of Canada in 2006.

Lianne Moyes is Associate Professor of English at Université de Montréal, where she specializes in Canadian and Quebec literatures. She is editor of Gail Scott: Essays on Her Works, co-editor of Adjacencies: Minority Writing in Canada, and, from 1993 to 2003, was co-editor of the bilingual feminist journal Tessera. Her work on Anglo-Montreal writing has appeared in Études canadiennes, Voix et images, and Canadian Literature as well as in the collections Un certain genre malgré tout, Pour une réflexion sur la différence sexuelle à l’oeuvre dans lécriture (Nota Bene), and Language Acts: Anglo-Qu&233;bec Poetry, 1976 to the 21st Century (Véhicule).

Winfried Siemerling is Professor of English and Comparative Literature in the Graduate Programs in Comparative Canadian Literature at the Université de Sherbrooke and affiliated with the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. His books include The New North American Studies: Culture, Writing, and the Politics of Re/Cognition (Routledge, 2005), the Bibliography of Comparative Studies in Canadian, Québec, and Foreign Literatures, 1930–1995 (2001, co-author), Cultural Difference and the Literary Text: Pluralism and the Limits of Authenticity in North American Literatures (1996/97, co-editor), Writing Ethnicity: Cross-Cultural Consciousness in Canadian and Québécois Literature (1996, editor), and Discoveries of the Other: Alterity in the Work of Leonard Cohen, Hubert Aquin, Michael Ondaatje, and Nicole Brossard (1994). He is currently co-editing Canada and Its Americas: Transnational Navigations, and working on African- and Asian-Canadian writing in the context of a SSHRC-funded project on transculturalism and double consciousness.

Stephen Slemon is Professor in English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta and a student of imperial and postcolonial representations. His current research focuses on how social understandings of “criminality” circulated in British India from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, and on the literature of mountaineering, through which he attempts to understand some parts of the cross-cultural and gendered politics of the colonial past and the globalizing present.

Rinaldo Walcott is an Associate Professor of Black Diaspora Cultural Studies at OISE/UT and the editor of New Dawn: The Journal of Black Canadian Studies, an online open-access journal. Recent essays include “Black Men in Frocks: Sexing Race in a Gay Ghetto (Toronto)” in Claiming Space: Racialization in Canadian Cities (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2006), and “Homopoetics: Queer Space and the Black Queer Diaspora” in Black Geographics and the Politics of Place (Between the Lines/South End Press, 2007). He is working on a book called Black Diasporic Faggotry: Frames, Readings, Limits.


The study of Canadian literature—CanLit—has undergone dramatic changes since it became an area of specialization in the 1960s and ’70s. As new global forces in the 1990s undermined its nation-based critical assumptions, its theoretical focus and research methods lost their immediacy. The contributors to Trans. Can. Lit address cultural policy, citizenship, white civility, and the celebrated status of diasporic writers, unabashedly recognizing the imperative to transfigure the disciplinary and institutional frameworks within which Canadian literature is produced, disseminated, studied, taught, and imagined.


``The outcome of a great idea that manages well to be accessible and relevant to both scholars and general readers of Canadian literature. ''

- Research Book News, May 2008

``The essays that make up this volume were initially presented at the inaugural Transcanada conference (2005), which asked participants to rethink `the disciplinary and institutional framework within which Canadian literature is produced, disseminated, studied and taught. ' In this, they have succeeded admirably. ... The preface, written by editors Smaro Kamboureli and Roy Miki, does an excellent job of mapping the issues, ideas, and critical methodologies that are re-shaping the study of Canadian literature. ... [T]his rigorous and far-reaching collection is necessary reading for those working within the discipline today. ''

- Carrie Dawson, Dalhousie University, Dalhousie Review, Vol. 88, No. 1, Spring 2008

``The articles. ..make this a formidable and important collection, one that will give the serious reader, one interested not only in Canadian literature, but also in contemporary thinking about the intersections among the nation state, difference, globalization and cultural representation, more than enough to ponder. ''

- Tamara Palmer Seiler, Canadian Ethnic Studies, Vol. 39, #3, 2007

``While Trans. Can. Lit does not engage overtly with how postcolonial studies and its dissenters and offshoots--including Indigenous, diasporic, and critical race studies--inform the study of CanLit, a quick look at the contents pages reveals an impressive list of some of the foremost Canadian critics working in these fields. ... One of the strengths of organizing this collection around the intersecton of literature, institutions, and citizenship is that the essays become a multivoiced call for revolution to critics and teachers working in a field under attack. .. Trans. Can. Lit reminded me, as an academic who teaches and researches CanLit in Australia, not only of the specificities of debates occurring within Canada but also of how many of the concerns in Canada transfer with frightening ease to an Australian context. The `trans' in CanLit moves beyond the porous borders of Canada, reminding academics working in literary studies about the power of what we do and of the responsibility attached to this power. ''

- Debra Dudek, Canadian Literature, No. 199, Winter 2008