Editing Modernism in Canada


April 10, 2012

Hugh Garner for whom?

As my Hugh Garner edition moves along, I’ve been thinking a lot of late about audience. Specifically, what audience(s) am I hoping to garner with this collection of stories? (I’m sorry, I can’t help myself.) Since I’m at an American university, working with Americans on the edition, this question comes up a lot. My amazing intern Kelsie, who has eyes like a hawk, has helpfully noted each time a story uses a specifically American or Canadian spelling, and we’ve talked a lot about how the distinctly Canadian parts of the stories sound to her New Jerseyian ear, and what we might need to explicate to make the text more accessible to an American college student.

The question of audience also came up at a recent conference I attended in the southern US. I was on a panel with a professor who also works on CanLit. Her paper was fantastic, mapping contemporary Black Canadian literature, and she fielded a lot of questions from a clearly really interested audience, who were clearly mostly unfamiliar with the Canadian canon. After the panel, we chatted a bit about access to texts, and how it would change our teaching—both of us work in American schools, and we’ve both taught Canadian lit to our undergraduates, but always with difficulties in getting the right books.

So, between the collection, the conference, and the future project planning, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about who we’re doing this editorial work for—who our imagined audiences are—and I’m interested in how y’all are navigating these questions. Do different parts of your editions correspond to different intended audiences?

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