Editing Modernism in Canada


December 6, 2012

Andrea Hasenbank and Canadian Manifestos 1910-1960

Andrea, a PhD student at the University of Alberta, is working on a critical edition of Canadian manifesto print entitled, Between Poetics and Polemics: Canadian Manifestos 1910-1960. Andrea’s project reproduces political, literary, and artistic texts that set out to assert and define the social and intellectual movements of their time, reclaiming them for study as part of the Canadian modernist period. Because Andrea’s goal is to make largely unknown or out-of-print texts available to readers and students of Canadian literature, politics, and history, this edition is intended for both classroom use and scholarly research, and will present the manifestos in a clean reading format with a brief contextual introduction and extensive annotations.

Now in her third year of working on this project, Andrea has mostly completed the transcriptions/reading copies of the manifesto texts, and is currently working on annotations. Once she has completed annotating the text, Andrea will write a general introduction for the edition and short introductions for each text section, which will include notes on the texts and her editing process.

So far in her process, Andrea has not run into many major problems. Copyright for some of the previously published texts has presented a minor issue, but most of the manifestos in Andrea’s edition are out of copyright, and many exist only in a single version. Andrea’s main challenge has been balancing landmark pieces with less familiar authors and texts, and she remains concerned about the inclusion of women and non-white writers.

The inclusion of francophone texts provides another challenge. Quebec’s twentieth-century political movements produced many valuable texts — including Refus global — which are essential to Andrea’s edition. However, this raises the issue of translation: should Andrea include francophone texts in the original French, and should she provide an English translation?

At first, Andrea was concerned about balancing the political range of the texts, but in working through a definition of the manifesto as a form and genre, she has come to focus on left-oriented texts that are revolutionary, not reactionary, in nature. The result of this focus is a rich and cohesive set of interrelated texts.

Because Andrea is also currently conducting research for her dissertation and taking part in a number of related commitments, time remains her greatest challenge. For now, she is engaged in the time-consuming but absorbing process of annotations.

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