Editing Modernism in Canada


Archive for February, 2014

February 19, 2014

Call for Papers: Two Days of Canada Conference and bpNichol Symposium








5th-7th November 2014 “Avant Canada: Artists, Prophets, Revolutionaries”


Since the 1920s, when Canadian avant-gardist Bertram Brooker announced art’s imminent triumph over business, the discourse of avant-gardism in Canada has frequently combined revolution, aesthetics, and ecstatic projections of the future. The 28th annual “Two Days of Canada” conference at Brock University, the oldest Canadian Studies conference of its kind in Canada, invites scholars and graduate students in all disciplines who research any aspect of the Humanities or Social Sciences in the Canadian context to a conference centred broadly on the idea of what lies ahead for Canada and the arts in Canada.

This conference represents an opportunity to reflect on the state of the future in Canada as well as the role that forward thinking artists, philosophers, and revolutionaries have played and might yet play in shaping what lies ahead. Many possible topics comprise the broad theme of this conference, such as:

  • dissent, disruption, and revolution: from early rights-based activisms to contemporary movements like Idle No More and Occupy
  • future gardes in Canada and the future of the modernist avant-garde
  • editing, publishing, and archiving the avant-garde
  • teaching, mentoring, and inventing the avant-garde
  • politics, political agency (especially including decolonization), and the arts
  • equity, inclusiveness, and ideas/models of community
  • movements, networks, nodes, and manifestations
  • the impact of digital methodologies
  • race, gender, and class in avant-garde production, dissemination, and recognition
  • border crossing, transnationalism, and globalization
  • futurist representations and the mediated future
  • the theory of avant-gardism and modernism in Canada vis-à-vis international models
  • the history, historiography, and boundaries of Canadian avant-gardism

Proposals for individual papers, presentations, or panels from all disciplines, covering any aspect of Canada’s future or the role of the avant-garde in Canada, are welcomed. Papers intended for the bpNichol symposium should be marked as such (see the next page). Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and may be sent to Gregory Betts, Department of English Language & Literature (gbetts@brocku.ca) before 3 March 2014. Please attach a 50 word biography to your submission.



At the corner of mundane and sacred: A bpNichol Symposium

Friday 7 November 2014 9am – 9pm

This collaborative symposium of scholars, writers, visual artists, musicians, and those interested and invested represents a cogent network of energies focused on the award-winning work of Canadian poet bpNichol (1944-1988). Nichol was an enormously prominent literary figure, with substantial influence on small press and experimental writing communities in Canada, the United States, and beyond. He has been the subject of countless books and essays by writers in both countries, and is the subject of a current outpouring of academic interest that has given rise to the republication of many of his books.

This one-day symposium on Nichol’s life and works will be held at the Niagara Artists Centre in downtown St. Catharines, in collaboration with Brock University’s Centre for Canadian Studies and the Editing Modernism in Canada Project. It will include plenary speakers, roundtable discussions, special topics panels, workshops on avant-garde pedagogies and production, a poetry reading, and a Fraggle Rock-themed dance party. Papers exploring any aspect of Nichol’s production or the scholarship on Nichol are welcome. Proposals for individual papers, presentations, or panels are encouraged. Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and may be sent to Gregory Betts, Department of English Language & Literature (gbetts@brocku.ca) before 3 March 2014. Please attach a 50-word biography to your submission.


February 12, 2014

CSDH/SCHN Outstanding Contribution Award/Le Prix de contribution exceptionnelle CSDH/SCHN 2014

Please find below a snippet of a call for nominations from the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities/Société canadienne des humanitiés numériques. Full details available online at the links below. Deadline for nominations is 15 March 2014.

Dean Irvine
Vice-President, CSDH/SCHN
Chair, CSDH/SCHN Outstanding Contribution Award Committee

[version française suit]
Call for submissions for the 2014 CSDH/SCHN Outstanding Contribution Award

This award is given for an exemplary project or publication by a Canadian researcher, or a researcher at a Canadian institution, or a team based at Canadian institution. It recognizes a major contribution to the field of digital humanities, broadly conceived, by a Canadian researcher or team of researchers, or a researcher or team based at a Canadian institution, in the form of a recent scholarly publication or published software or tool contribution.

For more information, please visit our site: http://csdh-schn.org/2014/02/11/contribution-nominations/

Appel à candidatures pour le Prix de contribution exceptionnelle CSDH/SCHN 2014

Description :
Ce prix est remis pour un projet ou une publication exemplaire par un(e) chercheur(e) canadien(ne), ou un(e) chercheur(e) dans une institution canadienne, ou une équipe basée dans une institution canadienne. Ce prix est une reconnaissance pour une contribution significative dans le domaine des humanités numériques, conçue en grande partie par un(e) chercheur(e) canadien(ne), ou un(e) chercheur(e) dans une institution canadienne, ou une équipe basée dans une institution canadienne sous la forme d’une publication savante, d’un logiciel publié, ou d’une contribution sous forme d’outil récent.

Pour plus d’information, veuillez consulter notre à http://csdh-schn.org/2014/02/11/contribution-nominations/

February 4, 2014

Where is the Nation in Digital Humanities?

Cross-posted from Postcolonial Digital Humanities

The organizers of the Postcolonial Digital Humanities site and the “Decolonizing Digital Humanities” panel at the most recent MLA have raised critically important questions about the intersection between postcolonial research and digital humanities work. In what ways, they ask, might the new tools and critical paradigms made possible by digital humanities transform postcolonial research and criticism? For instance, what becomes of the colonial archive and its relation to colonial and transnational knowledge production given the proliferation of new tools for archival research and cross-archival analysis? How might new methods of digital analysis offer opportunities to uncover buried colonial histories and expose present-day stereotypes and racism? How can new textual analysis tools remap literary canons to show the relevance of previously marginalized or ignored postcolonial texts? How do digital forms of activism and organization transform our understanding of cross-border solidarity? In what ways does this scholarly turn to the digital pave over local cultures and insist upon the English language as a requirement for membership in digital humanities?

Postcolonial theory and scholarship have always been about critiquing the manner in which the production of knowledge is complicit with the production of colonial relations and other relations of domination and exploitation. In this sense, postcolonial digital humanities work offers a timely and necessary investigation of the value of digital humanities to postcolonial studies. Reading the postcolonial through the digital, however discomfiting, enables scholars to make productive and unlikely connections between two methods direly in need of one another.

One element of the postcolonial that seems absent from a postcolonial digital humanities approach, however, is the continued salience of the nation as an organizing structure and category of analysis. Concern over the nation as the collective will of a people pervades postcolonial scholarship and Pheng Cheah has convincingly argued that “Postcolonial political domination and economic exploitation under the sign of capital and the capture of the people’s dynamism by neocolonial state manipulation signal the return of death. The task of the unfinished project of radical nationalism is to overcome this finitude” (229). Cheah is not, of course, yearning for a return to the days of blind nationalism or unproblematized collective identity of some postcolonial national vanguard. Rather, he acknowledges the failures of postcolonial nationalism to articulate a collective will for freedom while simultaneously demonstrating that “Radical literary projects of national Bildung remain cases of political organicism. They still endorse the idea that a radical national culture of the people contains the seeds for the reappropriation and transformation of the neocolonial state.” The true value of his intervention, in my eyes, is to remind us that the “national Bildung” in its various manifestations still remains a form by which a national culture can put ideas into practice and transform the state agencies that otherwise enable the practices of neocolonialism.

Like Bourdieu in his discussion of the left and right hands of the state, Cheah is unwilling to abandon the nation but sees it as a possible defense against neocolonial and neoliberal forms of domination. As such, postcolonial critics must remember that the “any project of emancipation however rational and realistic … necessarily presupposes the ability to incarnate ideals in the external world.” The nation provides, however flawed, a political framework and a series of material supports by which such projects may be put into practice.

Thinking of Cheah’s critique from a digital humanities perspective, I’m left wondering where is the nation in all of this digital humanities work? Certainly a great deal of our digital humanities scholarship is funded by our respective national institutions. My own work on Austin Clarke’s transnational modernism and the aesthetics of crossing is indirectly funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada through EMiC. In the US, the National Endowment of the Humanities funds HASTAC, the MLA, and countless other digital humanities projects. Yet despite its indebtedness to state institutions, digital humanities scholarship often appears to be practiced within a kind of transnational space unencumbered by any form of national culture.

Thus is seems to me that one important intervention that postcolonial digital humanities can offer is to ask how national forms persist within digital humanities scholarship? How does is the nation present, in however ghostly or marginal a form, within our digital humanities work? Does digital humanities work operate in a post-national space or is that (as Sylvia Soderlind argues in a Canadian context) just the latest form of nationalism?

I suggest that critics investigate the ways in which digital humanities research is subtly structured by the very state institutions that provide its funding. Tara McPherson has carefully traced the simultaneous and perhaps overlapping emergence of UNIX, object-oriented programming and contemporary forms of race thinking. A similar analysis needs to be performed concerning the indebtedness of digital humanities and critical code studies to the nations that produce these fields of analysis. Do digital humanities and nationalism inherit shared notions of humanism and if so how does that humanism structure our work? Does digital humanities occur in some transnational space, speaking across borders through the power of the internet? Or is our work invisibly yet meaningfully indebted and structured by the very state institutions that fund it?

What new forms of subjectivity does digital humanities make possible that circumvent the nation and what forms of subjection does this post-national positioning expose us to? Does digital humanities enable new forms of Cheah’s “radical nationalism” or is it an instance of something closer to Bauman’s liquid modernity: a transnational cultural practice that transcends the nation yet is accessible to only privileged elites physically and virtually jet setting across borders?

Cheah suggests that postcolonial critics, “instead of trying to exorcise postcolonial nationalism and replace it with utopian, liberal, or socialist cosmopolitanisms, … ought to address its problems in terms of the broader issue of the actualization of freedom itself.” These questions go beyond, I think, a politics of location and ask us to confront the national contexts of our work and how it might affect our own place in this struggle over “the actualization of freedom”. I think these are necessary questions for digital humanities that postcolonial digital humanities can begin to raise.