Editing Modernism in Canada


December 13, 2012

Tony Tremblay, Take Two

Tony Tremblay is a busy man. Now that he has successfully launched his new digital edition, Fred Cogswell: The Many-Dimensioned Self, Tony is moving on to his next EMiC-supported digital project, The Selected Letters of New Brunswick’s Pioneering Modernists.

Tony intends to compile a collection of representative letters of upwards of a dozen pioneering New Brunswick modernists from the province’s key hotbeds of modernist ferment to highlight the various dimensions of mid-century modernism in New Brunswick. By examining the individual concerns of key writers and cultural workers in New Brunswick’s cultural community, this collection will illuminate the intellectual history of the province at mid century. Since New Brunswick is very culturally diverse, a variety of perspectives on modernism is required to get a sense of the different aspects of the movement that were present. Tony hopes The Selected Letters will be representative of the energies in New Brunswick, and democratic in the allowance it makes for a multiplicity of contributions across the province.

At this point in his project, Tony has several questions about the shape The Selected Letters will take. In particular, Tony is interested in the genesis of New Brunswick modernism — from what sources did modernism emerge? Tony is also interested in the resistances modernism found in a socially conservative province, the strategies modernists used to overcome those resistances, and the forms of modernist expression that resulted from the modifications made to popularize modernism in New Brunswick. So far, Tony’s preliminary investigations suggest that modernism took on hybrid forms in New Brunswick, and he would like to test that hypothesis against what is said about modernism in the correspondence of the province’s leading mid-century modernists.

Tony currently faces two major challenges regarding The Selected Letters. First, he must scour the literary fonds of New Brunswick’s leading mid-century modernists for epistolary evidence of the view of modernism, which is a very ambitious endeavour. The second challenge Tony faces involves technology: because this is a digital collection of letters, he will need to find the technical apparatus that will enable him to post letters in searchable format. Working with the University of New Brunswick Harriet Irving Library’s Electronic Text Centre, Tony will be exploring the capabilities of the Islandora platform to see if it will accommodate the needs of The Selected Letters.

As he did for Fred Cogswell: The Many-Dimensioned Self, Tony intends to write a general introduction to the collection and introductions for each of the individual writers, and to provide ample textual annotations for context and description. Thanks to EMiC funding, Tony will be taking on a graduate Research Assistant from the University of New Brunswick to help with the preparation and production of the digital edition.

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