Editing Modernism in Canada


June 4, 2010

EMiC at Congress

Congress is always the one time of year when I have to admit to myself that I just can’t do it all. Inevitably, the panels I want to attend are scheduled in simultaneous sessions. Often I’m presenting on one panel and wish that I could be in another room at the same time. Until we develop the EMiC cloning tool, I’ll have to settle for the reality that our community has grown to such a size that it’s no longer possible to see everyone present at Congress. That said, I was extremely pleased with the panels I managed to find (even if they were sometimes at the bottom of a back stairwell in the basement of the old Faubourg). I was especially delighted with the papers by the armada of EMiC participants. The panel on radical modernist pedagogy that I co-chaired with Karis Shearer was well attended and featured papers by Paul Hjartarson, Linda Morra, and Vanessa Lent. Paul spoke to Wilfrid Watson’s radical theatre productions in Edmonton in the 1960s (my favourite moment was when Paul quoted Watson asserting that in the absence of a mainstream public for Canadian theatre, a playwright might as well go avant-garde). Linda addressed the public and national pedagogy of Ira Dilworth on CBC radio in the 1940s, calling particular attention to his role in broadcasting the work of Emily Carr. And Vanessa toured us through the life of Sheila Watson as a teacher and student, from a her stint during the early 1930s in a one-room schoolhouse in the Cariboo to her classes with Marshall McLuhan at the University of Toronto in the 1950s to her career as a professor of modernist literatures at the University of Alberta in the 1960s and 1970s. Vanessa’s reading of the Cariboo adaptation of Macbeth from Deep Hollow Creek stands for me as one of the highlights of the Congress.

Dean Irvine

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