Editing Modernism in Canada


February 6, 2013

“Canada and the Spanish Civil War”: An Update

While formal Canadian involvement in World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and multiple peace-keeping assignments is common knowledge, the voluntary enlistment of nearly seventeen hundred Canadians to fight in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) is arguably less commonly known. Further, although Spain figured prominently in the creative works produced by modern Canadian artists – who range from Patrick Anderson to Dorothy Livesay to Malcolm Lowry – these works are scattered, inaccessible, or even undocumented. By creating “Canada and the Spanish Civil War: A Digital Research Environment,” an accessible repository of Canadian material, co-directors Bart Vautour (Mount Allison University) and Emily Robins Sharpe (University of Guelph) hope to remedy that issue.

“Canada and the Spanish Civil War” is a three-phase project that aims to collate Canadian material for public consumption in a systematic way as part of The Canadian Writing and Research Collaboratory (CWRC). Right now, Vautour and Robins Sharpe are in the first phase of the project, which requires conducting archival research and gaining digital skills, as well as scholarly consultation and project development. The second phase of the project will build upon the first to prepare and publish a clean-text print anthology, Selected Canadian Writing on the Spanish Civil War, with a scholarly apparatus housed in the Digital Research Environment (DRE). The third phase of the project – which is perhaps the most logistically challenging – will culminate in the creation of a digital collection within the DRE, and will require a massive collation and digitization effort.

At Guelph, Robins Sharpe has been busy co-directing a digital humanities reading group with Dr. Susan Brown, one of her co-supervisors. She is also working hard on skills acquisition for the next phases of “Canada and the Spanish Civil War,” as well as researching and writing an introduction for the project website.

Robins Sharpe also organized and chaired a panel on the Spanish Civil War, “The Spectacle of War,” at the Modernist Studies Association conference in Las Vegas last October. The panel had three presenters – one of whom was Vautour – each speaking on a different genre and national/international grouping of writers. Overall, the panel was well received and led to some interesting intersections and conclusions. Robins Sharpe also presented a paper, “The Wartime Mosaic: Canadian Jewish Literature and the Spanish Civil War,” at the Modern Languages Association convention held in Boston this January.

At Mount Allison, Vautour is working on building a bibliography, doing some archival research, and working with designers to get a start on building a website for “Canada and the Spanish Civil War.” Vautour has hired a Research Assistant, Kaarina Mikalson, to help with some initial digitization.

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