Editing Modernism in Canada


January 25, 2011

Surrealism in Canada — CFP Open Letter Special Issue

Surrealism in Canada: Open Letter is seeking critical, literary-historical, and creative submissions (including artwork and manifestos) for a special issue dedicated to the specific manifestations, influences, and engagements with the general idea of Surrealism in Canada.

Surrealism in Canada will be guest edited by Beatriz Hausner and Gregory Betts.

Sigmund Freud never came to Canada, but André Breton, the French pioneer of the Surrealist movement, came and spent many months here during the Second World War (which led to his book Arcanum 17). By the time he arrived, Canadians had already been experimenting with and exploring Surrealist methods and considering its philosophy for over two decades. Since then, a number of internationally acknowledged Surrealist groups have emerged in this country, such as the Automatists from Quebec (including members such as Paul-Emile Borduas, Claude Gauvreau, Therese Renaud, and Jean-Paul Riopelle), the Western Hermeticists from British Columbia (including members such as Gregg Simpson, Gary Lee Nova, Al Neil, Claude Breeze, Roy Kiyooka, David W. Harris (also known as David UU), Michael Bullock, and bill bissett), and the Recordists from Ontario (including members such as William A. Davison, Sherri Lyn Higgins, Colin Hinz, James Bailey, Pete Mosher, and Linda Feesey), while a diverse array of individuals, such as Ludwig Zeller, Susana Wald, Brion Gysin, Mimi Parent, and Jean Benoit, with varying degrees of Canadian connections have made important contributions to the global Surrealist movement.

Canadian Surrealist work continues to appear – as evidenced by Stuart Ross’s anthology Surreal Estate: 13 Poets Under the Influence (2004) and Peter Dube’s Madder Love: Queer Men and the Precincts of Surrealism (2008). Canadian First Nations artists like Lawrence Paul Yuxwelupton and Dana Claxton have also appropriated Surrealist techniques for their own political struggle against the spread of European culture – using tools developed within Europe to resist Europe, as it were. Furthermore, Surrealist techniques and philosophy in general have had an enormous influence in Canada, including on artists such as Leonard Cohen, bpNichol, Claude Péloquin, Nicole Brossard, Gail Scott, Madelaine Gagnon, and Michael Ondaatje, as well as on collectivities from Vancouver’s TISH poets to Quebec’s Parti Pris.

For this special issue, Open Letter seeks submissions from a wide range of scholars and artists that engage with and explore the diverse manifestations of Surrealism in Canada. Possible topics could include (but are not limited to):

– individual study of an author/artist in relation to Surrealism

– collective study of multiple authors/artists in relation to Surrealism

– comparisons between contemporary and earlier Surrealisms

– the impact or significance of Surrealist philosophy

– Surrealism and the Canadian Left

– Surrealism and Canadian ‘pataphysics (or other avant-garde nodes)

– the relevance of Surrealism to Canadian art today

– Surrealism and First Nations art and literature

– Surrealism and Canadian postcolonial culture

– Canadian participation in and/or influence on international Surrealism

Completed papers and other contributions are due no later than 1 September 2011. Please send submissions in electronic format (e.g.: MS Word files) to both editors. For more information, please feel free to contact Gregory Betts or Beatriz Hausner:

Gregory Betts

Associate Professor

English Language & Literature

Brock University

500 Glenridge Avenue

St. Catharines ON L2S 3A1

(905) 688.5550 x 5318


Beatriz Hausner


One Response to “Surrealism in Canada — CFP Open Letter Special Issue”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.