Editing Modernism in Canada


Archive for September, 2013

September 17, 2013

An EMiC Update for the New Academic Year

The temperature is dropping and the piles of books are rising as we start another academic year, and I wanted to take this opportunity to make a few announcements for the EMiC community. First—after keeping us organized, answering our questions, and making sure our funding was waiting for us in our bank accounts for the past two years, in addition to contributing countless hours to EMiC since 2009—Emily Ballantyne is stepping down as project administrator and handing over the position to recent MA graduate Alix Shield. Emily’s dedication has been an invaluable asset to the project, and she has kindly shared her administrator know-how with Alix to ensure that the project continues to run smoothly.

Alix completed her Master’s at Dalhousie University and wrote her thesis on a selection of early twentieth-century First Nations collaborations with non-aboriginal authors, anthropologists, and ethnographers. She framed her thesis within versioning theory, and some of you may have seen her at this past spring’s DHSI in the versioning class. She has also worked as an RA collecting and digitizing versions of the texts she studied in her thesis, focusing particularly on Pauline Johnson’s Legends of Vancouver, which she hopes to present in a digital edition as part of her continuing work with Dean Irvine.

Second, my name is Katherine Wooler, and I am taking over Amanda Hansen’s role in writing and coordinating the EMiC blog. I’m hoping to keep tabs on everyone’s projects as well as she has over the past year. I have also just completed my MA at Dalhousie University and have previously worked as an EMiC RA and held an EMiC MA stipend. I am currently developing a digital edition of bpNichol’s concrete poetry, which was the topic of my thesis. I am looking forward to getting to know each of you and your projects better as I organize blog posts over the next year and profile the great work being done by our ever-growing community of scholars and researchers.

I encourage all of you to share your thoughts, plans, struggles and triumphs in your own blog posts, as this is a great forum for initiating collaborations, generating feedback, and finding inspiration. These blog posts serve as a comforting reminder that we’re not all slaving away at out projects in complete isolation, but that we’re part of a diverse support system in which all of us are making similar discoveries in our own unique ways. The blog archives are full of exciting and though-provoking writing by many talented academics, and I am eager to see this archive grow in the coming year.

My third order of business is to mention our stipend holders, as well as our newest postdoctoral fellow. While there are no MA stipend holders this year, I am pleased to list three PhD stipend recipients: Alana Fletcher, Christopher Doody, and Amanda Visconti. Alana (Queen’s University) is continuing with her compilation of the George Whalley database with Michael DiSanto of Algoma University, while Christopher continues at Carleton University working with Zailig Pollock (Trent University) on the P.K. Page Brazilian materials. Amanda’s project is called “Joyce, Klein, and Transferring Digital Knowledge to Canadian Texts,” and she will be working with Dean Irvine and Matthew Kirschenbaum while pursuing her degree at the University of Maryland. Paul Barrett of McMaster University now holds the EMiC postdoctoral fellowship and is working with Daniel Coleman to study Austin Clarke’s Survivors of the Crossing.

I’d like to congratulate EMiC’s latest stipend recipients and postdoctoral fellow, thank Emily and Amanda for all their hard work with the project, and welcome Alix to her new position. Please feel welcome to make your own introductions and announcements on this blog, as well as keep fellow EMiC-ers updated on your experiences with the project. Facebook and Twitter are also a great way to keep in contact with your EMiC colleagues, so please don’t hesitate to keep those channels of communication active as well. If you haven’t already, you can join the Facebook group by searching Editing Modernism in Canada (EMiC) and keep up with EMiC tweets by following @emic_project. I am looking forward to talking with you all more in the upcoming semesters. Happy September!

September 4, 2013

“A More Platonic James Bond”

Over the past few months, some wonderful recordings of George Whalley have come to light. When I visited with his daughter Katharine in June, I discovered two cassette tapes that she had been given 30 years ago. The recordings had survived and the audio is excellent. In the last two months, Jen Hardwick, a PhD candidate in English at Queen’s University, has been making digital copies of recordings on reel-to-reel tapes that Whalley once owned and donated to the Queen’s University Archives. On many of these the sound quality is excellent. Several of the recordings have been edited and added to the website: http://georgewhalley.algomau.ca/drupal6/node/76.

There is a fascinating autobiographical fragment that Whalley recorded on March 21, 1977. The reflections on his childhood and the lively conversations he heard at home are remarkable.

Long before Elizabeth Hay wrote Late Nights On Air – a novel deeply rooted in Whalley’s The Legend of John Hornby and his radio drama Death in the Barren Ground – and received the Giller prize, she lived in Yellowknife and was friends with Katharine. In April 1976 Whalley visited Yellowknife, having been there a few years back to after driving a VW Beetle from Edmonton for his daughter and her husband. Elizabeth interviewed Whalley about Hornby, a book she read years before and admired very much.

On February 23, 1967, F.R. Scott gave a poetry reading in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University. Whalley made the introduction that evening. They had known each other for many years: they co-organized the Writing in Canada conference at Queen’s University in July 1955 and Scott contributed an essay to A Place of Liberty, a collected of essays on university governance that Whalley edited. Whalley’s introduction is unlike any other Scott was given, I suspect: http://georgewhalley.algomau.ca/drupal6/node/1885.

The selection of readings of Whalley’s poems, taken from two tapes recorded about a decade apart, allows us to hear the pieces differently than we will when reading them for ourselves.The laughter raised by “A Minor Poet is Visited by the Muse” is well worth hearing: http://georgewhalley.algomau.ca/drupal6/node/1781. The reading of “Pig” resonates for me: http://georgewhalley.algomau.ca/drupal6/node/1786. I saw the pig in Southwold (it made the trip back to England many years before).

The pig that travelled under Whalley's arm "from London by air / In gay defiance of all airline and government regulations."

The pig, purchased at Herrods, that travelled under Whalley’s arm from London in “defiance of all airline and government regulations.”

Doug Jones and Whalley gave a joint reading at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on March 10, 1966. Jones introduces Whalley as “a more platonic James Bond,” which raises great laughter from the audience. What was the expression on Whalley’s face at that moment? And how many in the audience had any sense of the truth behind the remark, any knowledge of Whalley’s secret intelligence work for the Royal Navy in World War II?

Whalley much admired the poetry of Donne, Hopkins, and Yeats. Of Yeats, Whalley wrote “He has been my greatest despair & encouragement” in a 1945 letter to Arnold Banfill. Whalley’s deep attachment to the writers can be heard in his readings of Donne’s “The Relic,” Hopkins’ “The Windhover,” Yeats “The Second Coming,” and the others published here. Listening to Whalley read the poems, as if he can effortlessly voice the styles and the rhythms, makes me realize how difficult it is to read poetry well.

The website will be slowly updated and revised over the next several months. In the meantime, it is worthwhile to draw attention to the recordings now published.