Editing Modernism in Canada


Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

May 11, 2016

Canadian Literature Collection Launch at Congress 2016


Bonjour, hello,

Come and join us at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences (May 28 – June 3) for our Canadian Literature Collection book launch (General Editor, Dean Irvine). Books to be launched include critical editions of Malcolm Lowry, Carroll Aikins and Charles Yale Harrison as well as a new title on the Canadian short story in our CLC monograph series. We will also offer sneak peeks at our forthcoming titles in the series:  Translocated Modernisms, A Journey in Translation and Malcolm Lowry’s Poetics of Space. Save the date! May 30th at 4 p.m. – A light snack and refreshments will be provided. 

Venez vous joindre à nous au Congrès des sciences humaines (28 mai – 3 juin) pour le lancement de livres de notre Collection de littérature canadienne (directeur Dean Irvine). Des éditions critiques de Lowry, Aikins et Harrison y seront lancées ainsi qu’un nouvel ouvrage sur les nouvelles au Canada. Vous pourrez également jeter un premier coup d’œil à nos prochains titres : Translocated Modernisms, A Journey in Translation ainsi que Malcolm Lowry’s Poetics of Space. Réservez la date! 30 mai à 16 h – un goûter et des rafraîchissements seront servis.

See you there! Au plaisir de vous y voir!

Dominike Thomas
Gestionnaire des acquisitions | Acquisitions Editor
Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa Press
T 613.562.5800 x3065 | F 613.562.5247 | dthomas@uottawa.ca
542 King Edward Ottawa Ontario K1N 6N5 Canada

Fall Catalogue 2015 | Catalogue automne 2015
 | www.press.uottawa.ca
| www.twitter.com/uOttawaPress

May 9, 2016

Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism and Linked Modernisms Launch

[Cross-posted, with permission, and with thanks to ghostprof.org.]

The REM:

We have lift-off! The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism goes live today with the first 1000 entries at rem.routledge.com. The REM aims to provide the most comprehensive resource in existence on modernist aesthetic practice around the world and across the arts. It includes entries written by subject experts in Dance, Film, Visual Arts, Architecture and Design, Literature, Intellectual Currents, Music, and Drama/Performance. Over 1000 specialists have contributed material to an editorial team of over 60 to bring this project to fruition. If you are one of them, THANK YOU! The REM is truly a communal project on a scale well beyond anything I, for one, ever imagined attempting. Some might say it was a mad enterprise. They wouldn’t be wrong. And yet here we are. So, again, thank you.

Why not breeze by the site now, and take a tour or sign up for a free trial?

This launch includes 1000 entries. We are already preparing the first major update to the REM, and will launch that material by the fall of 2016. We have much more to post, so if you don’t see what you are looking for (yet), please hang tough. If you think we may have missed the entry altogether, please by all means let me know. And if you’re game to write the entry, let me know that too!

Linked Modernisms:

Finally, please consider checking out Linked Modernisms, the companion site for the REM, which uses RDF, domain expert verification, and machine reasoning to plumb the REM‘s content for metadata and connections among terms. It features some pretty cool visualisations, and you can use the RelFinder tool to check out how many degrees of separation there are between your favourite figures, movements, places, works, techniques, etc. Again, we are constantly updating the content, enhancing the density of the metadata you can explore, so if you notice something missing (even something pretty central) please hang on for more updates. Many thanks to Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for funding the development of the site.

Like what you see? Please let me know at saross ]at[ uvic.ca

Don’t like what you (don’t) see? Also let me know (or wait a bit first, then let me know when you run out of patience).

Thank You:

Finally, I want to be sure to thank the Subject Editors of the REM:

Dance — Allana C. Lindgren
Film — Rahul Sapra
Architecture and Design — Michael Johnson
Visual Arts — Hazel Donkin
Literature — Megan Swift
Music — Jonathan Goldman
Intellectual Currents — Vincent P. Pecora
Drama/Performance — Sheila Rabillard
Each of these Subject Editors commissioned, managed, edited, and selected hundreds of entries. Some of them will stay on as we move into production, while others will move on to other responsibilities, but they all have done enormous work to ensure that the REM is as good as it possibly can be. They oversaw teams of between 3 and 15 Editorial Board Members, whom I cannot list here, but who have likewise lifted enormous burdens in getting this material to the screen.

My tireless Project Managers Laura Dosky, lately replaced by Amy Tang, have made the project possible when it seemed completely overwhelming. The legion of graduate students who helped prepare entries by formatting them for web presentation, copy editing, and fact-checking, likewise merit a great big thank you.

Lastly, Polly Dodson, Senior Editor at Routledge, indefatigable champion of the project, wry interlocutor, and kind but at-times demanding partner in crime has been a complete joy to work with. We’ve torn through a number of other team members at Routledge over the years, but Polly has remained the backbone of this operation. Thanks for not breaking!

by Stephen Ross (@ghostprof)

March 17, 2016

Student Labour and Training in Digital Humanities

We should all be proud and honoured as a community to see EMiC cited in Digital Humanities Quarterly for best practices in student research, labour, and training. The forthcoming issue (2016 10.1), now avalable in a preview online, features an article co-authored by EMiC alumna, Katrina Anderson. Here’s an excerpt from “Student Labour and Training in Digital Humanities” :

“The EMiC project presents a model that enables students to pursue their own DH projects. The EMiC community emphasizes the importance of student research by awarding stipends to graduate students who are working to create their own editions of Canadian modernist texts and by providing these students with the training they need to carry out this work [EMiC]. The “About Us” page on their site devotes space for profiles not only of their co-applicants, collaborators, and postdoctoral affiliates, but of graduate and undergraduate fellows as well, which demonstrates the project’s commitment to encouraging individual student projects. Of the 63 graduate fellows listed on the site, more than half of this number reference independent research in their personal profiles that their affiliation with EMiC has enabled them to pursue. While the EMiC community has embraced the collaborative ethos that transcends traditional academic boundaries, they have done so by building a group structure that ensures that students are an integral and recognized unit in the collaborative process. The level of support that EMiC offers to student research and training at universities across Canada could be taken up by a variety of projects hoping to encourage students to both contribute to the overall objectives of the main project while also learning new digital skills that they can apply to their own research.” Read the rest of this post »

February 25, 2016

The Modernism Lab and the Modernist Commons

Among the newest features of the Modernist Commons is a collection of articles migrated from The Modernism Lab. Directed by Pericles Lewis at Yale University, the Modernism Lab is a virtual space dedicated to collaborative research into the roots of literary modernism. The original project covers the period 1914-1926, from the outbreak of the First World War to the full-blown emergence of English modernism. This is a collaborative project including over eighty graduate and undergraduate students at Yale and ten other universities. This founding initiative has sought to broaden the canon of works studied in the period by paying attention to minor works by major authors, major works by minor authors, and works that may have been influential in their time but that are no longer much read. With the Lab’s integration into the Modernist Commons, these principles of the original project extend to include a more expansive international repertoire of modernist literatures and cultures.

Many thanks to Alan Stanley and Rosie LeFaive at Agile Humanities Agency for their work on this initiative. And thanks to Pericles Lewis and Trip Kirkpatrick at Yale for their support and assistance.

For more information about the Modernist Commons, or to request permission to access the editing tools to produce your own critical editions or articles, please contact us at modernistcommons@gmail.com.

December 7, 2015

The Unbearable Lightness of Archives: Re-launching the bpNichol.ca Digital Archive

by Gregory Betts


With the sole exception of the audio recordings, the recently relaunched bpNichol.ca Digital Archive is a collection of photographic images that stand in stark contrast to the print-medium objects they represent. We have, then, a medium translation into the symbolic regime of the archive, where data (in fact, the texts that Nichol produced and published) are isolated into discrete series in order to open them to different configurations. Despite the gregarious warmth of bpNichol, Canada’s preeminent avant-gardist—indeed, our own “Captain Poetry”—the archive flattens the lush sensuality, the intricate materiality of his works into two-dimensional images, digital files that are represented entirely by light patterns on a smooth screen. Media archaeologist Wolfgang Ernst highlights such a “cold archaeological gaze” as “the melancholic acknowledgement of the allegorical gap that separates the past irreversibly from the present, a sense of discontinuity, as opposed to the privileging of continuity in historical narrative” (44-5). The digital archive encodes this separation without demanding a binding historical narrative. These are the things, separated from their aura as Benjamin would note, reconstructed in order to maximize access and circulation.

Nichol’s oeuvre, with its enormous scale and variety, represents an archive of limit-cases of Canadian small press publishing techniques and technologies. The two-dimensional digital files, however, efface some of the most striking characteristics of these often handmade objects, produced as they were in micro, sometimes single-digit, print runs, and often made for or given personally to a specific person. Nichol was a communitarian, and used his literature and publishing ventures to create and foster avant-garde communities. They are consummate exemplars of ephemera. As such, they performed a kind of exclusive communitarian function that contradicts open source digitalization: these were not intended to be objects of simultaneous collective reception. They are now, though, in this remade archived form.

The re-launch of the bpNichol digital archive thus serves as the institutionalization of a new phase of engagement with Nichol’s work that shifts beyond the direct impression of the biological author. This shift was evident at the 2014 bpNichol symposium I organized at Brock University in St. Catharines called “At the corner of mundane and sacred” which featured 16 paper presentations, 20 poets reading work inspired by bp, and hundreds of people on twitter doing an online flash mob of their favourite lines and puns from his work. It had the air of a celebration and it felt vital. We were lucky to have some of bp’s closest friends, colleagues, and collaborators presenting, including Steve McCaffery, Stan Bevington, and Stephen Scobie, but what was most striking about the event was the presence of new generations and their investment in thinking upon his works and discovering new ways to manifest his spirit of investigation, sincerity, and generosity. These are the sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters of Captain Poetry. Without ever having met the man, they have already begun building their own bps.

One such builder is filmmaker Justin Stephenson, who was at the conference to show us a glimpse of his new bpNichol film called The Collected Works in advance of its Toronto premiere. Functioning as both a dynamic archive and creative work in its own right, Stephenson’s work translates Nichol’s poetry (not his biography) into a dance of light and sound. Ernst notes that the photograph offers a distinct kind of representation of the past as it inscribes chemically and/or digitally the physical trace of the past. As such, the photograph “liberate[s] the past from historical discourse (which is always anthropomorphic) in order to make source data accessible to different configurations” (48). Stephenson’s film ruptures “the illusion of pure content” by his creative interventions in the re-staging and selection of Nichol’s work. Similarly, the bpNichol.ca digital archive encodes self-reflexivity by documenting the time, date, and (where available) technology of digitization as part of the meta-data record for each object in the archive. There are, of course, three time signatures at play in each photograph: the content, Nichol’s work, the interface, our photographic rendering of them, and the intraface, the archive frame itself.

The narrative of Nichol’s first poem, the beginning of the complete works, anticipates these problems and possibilities. A student at the time in Vancouver, he wrote the poem while visiting his brother in Toronto in the summer of 1963. He was working on a normative translation of Guillaume Apollinaire’s modernist masterpiece “Zone” when all of a sudden the sun struck his page as the cars whizzed by and the sight of bodies browning in a park below his window transported him for an instant into what he felt was an experience of perfect synchronicity with the poem. Apollinaire’s 1913 poem presents a fragmented collage of a flâneur walking the streets of Paris, moving out across Europe, and recording the modernist shift of that moment. Powerful new technologies—the airplane, the automobile, electricity—were supplanting mythology and nature, but a new kind of communion, a new kind of culture, indeed a new kind of individual was emerging in the shift. Nichol abandoned his straight translation of “Zone” and wrote a short lyric about the experience of being transported by Apollinaire in Toronto sunshine: a poem of the play of light and its historical trace! His poem was called “Translating Apollinaire” and it was published in 1964 in Vancouver in bill bissett’s new magazine Blew Ointment. The somewhat diminutive work launched a career of investigation into the question of what happens when writing, poetry, language move into new, hitherto unimagined spaces; what happens when new interfaces are used to transpose historical residue.

Apollinaire’s poem begins at the end with the lovely line, “In the end you abandon the ancient world.” Nichol’s first published poem begins with Icharrus, the myth hubristic human ambitions of transportational technology:

Icharrus winging up
Simon the Magician from Judea high in a tree,
everyone reaching for the sun

great towers of stone
built by the Aztecs, tearing their hearts out
to offer them, wet and beating

cold wind, Macchu Piccu hiding in the sun
unfound for centuries

cars whizzing by, sun
thru trees passing, a dozen
new wave films, flickering
on drivers’ glasses

flat on their backs in the grass
a dozen bodies slowly turning brown

sun glares off the pages, “soleil
cou coupé”, rolls in my window
flat on my back on the floor
becoming aware of it
for an instant

Nichol revisited this poem almost a hundred times in the years that followed, creating a series of translations that he published as Translating Translating Apollinaire. The series broke apart and rewrote this poem with the ambition of uncovering every conceivable means that a translation he could be produced. It is wild, radical research and it demonstrates Nichol’s commitment to writing not as the creation of discrete beautiful objects, but as a process of engaging with the world, of investigation, of learning, ultimately of opening oneself up to the Other; as a dynamic processing of the past. Building from this template, the archive is best thought of as just another conceivable means of translating bpNichol’s complete works.

It is, at present, a growing repository of Nichol’s work all available for free because of the enormous generosity of Ellie Nichol. There are over 100 items currently digitized in the space, thousands of pages of work, with hundreds more books and chapbooks to come. The website was designed and built by Bill Kennedy, with the enormous support of Alana Wilcox, Editorial Director of Coach House Books, and assisted by EMiC-sponsored Research Assistant Julia Polyck-O’Neill. I am the curator of the space and would like to invite you all to get involved in expanding the archive (if you are interested, click on “contact” and send me a note) because even though the digital file violates the spirit of the original (I am reminded of Jean Mitry’s quip that “To betray the letter is to betray the spirit, because the spirit is found only in the letter” (4)), the desire for opening avant-garde community spaces and engagement through this work remains.

Works Cited
Ernst, Wolfgang. Digital Memory and the Archive. Minneapolis: U Minnesota P, 2012.
Nichol, bp. “Translating Apollinaire.” Blew Ointment. 2.4 (1965). Np.
—. Translating Translating Apollinaire. Milwaukee: Membrane Press, 1979.

December 4, 2015

Modelling Collaboration in Digital Humanities Scholarship: Foundational Concepts of an EMiC UA Project Charter


Proud and excited to announce the publication of “Modelling Collaboration in Digital Humanities Scholarship: Foundational Concepts of an EMiC UA Project Charter” by Paul Hjartarson, Harvey Quamen,​ Andrea Hasenbank, Vanessa Lent and EMiC UA in the new University of Alberta Press collection, Cultural Mapping and the Digital Sphere: Place and Space, edited by Kathleen Kellett and Ruth Panofsky.

“In an attempt to balance the multiple roles of project collaborators, EMiC UA had adopted a set of policies that allow for leading contributions to be recognized for their work on particular subprojects while also securing thr foundational importance of the entire group to all work emanating from our collaboratory. We intend to expand existing publication practices in the humanities to give equal recognition to all collaborators as authors. Hence, the list of authors on out published work always includes the group as a whole. Policy: EMiC UA will be credited as an organizational author on all publications derived from collaboratory work.”

Congratulations EMiC UA!

October 21, 2015


phonotext.ca is a project initiated to develop an open access index of sound recordings related to Canadian poets and poetry. The function of the site is simple: to organize and provide details on sound recordings related to Canadian poetry and poetics; to document the specific format(s) and relevant bibliographic information for each recording; to list where recordings can be located and listened to; and to provide links to recordings that are digitally available. Additionally, phonotext.ca will host a digital library of writings focused on the intersections of sound, performance, poetry, and poetics in Canada. It situates these writings amid a vast repository of sounds.

The primary aim of this project is to aid listeners so they may access recorded materials, while emphasizing the importance of the sonic, performative, and medial aspects of poetic works. The expansive and detailed catalogue of poetry-related audio recordings will be searchable by the name of the poet, the format of recording, and the location and year in which it was produced. In combining digital and analogue recordings, phonotext.ca will assemble both a poetic and phonographic history. We intend for the site to be of interest to those involved in the sonic arts – poets, musicians, writers, teachers, researchers – and to curious listeners. The index will also serve as a tool to assist archivists and institutions in the circulation and preservation of materials always under the threat of being lost or discarded.

I have begun to work together with an editorial collective – comprised of Deanna Fong, Lee Hannigan, Shannon Maguire, and Eric Schmaltz – who will develop, add, and curate the site. Additionally, we have an advisory board – made up of Lillian Allen, Jason Camlot, Tanya Clement, Dean Irvine, Chris Mustazza, and Karis Shearer – who will assist guiding the project’s production. Sound artist and programmer Max Stein has been and continues to be instrumental in the design of the site. We have recently completed the back-end, as well as the database notational system for phonotext.ca. We are currently developing the front-end of the site, and plan to have an initial version launched in late 2016. In the meanwhile, we are building our database of materials for the site. We currently have gathered just over 2,000 phonographic entries for the index of sound materials, and hope to add an additional 4,000 entries by launch date.

If you would like to contact phonotext.ca, please email: phonotext.ca [at] gmail [dot] com.



Michael Nardone is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture at Concordia University, and is currently a PennSound visiting fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. He is managing editor the journal Amodern. In 2014-15, he received an Editing Modernism in Canada doctoral stipend to support the development of phonotext.ca.

June 29, 2015

Codework, Carework, and EMiC 20 or 30 years from now

I spent one year as the EMiC postdoctoral fellow which I mostly spent working in the McMaster University Archives reading and writing about Austin Clarke and learning about the digital humanities. I was somewhat surprised when EMiC decided to fund my Clarke project but as I learned more about the organization I realized that there really is no strict mandate for EMiC work. Their working definitions of modernism and Canadian writing are wide and flexible and indeed part of their project is to push at the boundaries of these definitions; I think this is one of EMiC’s real strengths.

During my year as the EMiC postdoc I completed the edits on my book, published a few articles, worked on my own topic modeling software and did lots of cool and fun exploratory stuff that won’t necessarily show up on my CV but that was important nonetheless. This was all thanks to EMiC. EMiC also gave me the time, resources, and community support that I needed to get started on what has become a large project on Clarke’s writing and letters. My work with EMiC has undoubtedly provided the basis for what I hope will become my second book project. The boxes of material in Clarke’s archives span more than 23m if you laid them out on the floor so the sheer volume of material took a long time to grapple with. To begin to categorize these papers, to learn about the tools I could use to interpret them, and to develop some on my own. All of this took time as well. It’s thanks to EMiC that I had the necessary time and resources to work through all of this.

I also attended the Digital Humanities Summer Institute which was by far the coolest week of my year. DHSI is summer camp for DH’ers (new and experienced) and is everything a traditional conference should be. You meet cool people, learn about their cool work, and have all kinds of cool conversations over cool drinks. I think one of EMiC’s greatest achievements is helping to build the community that grew out of the DHSI experience. It is because of EMiC that so many scholars were able to attend DHSI, meet one another, and share their ideas and experiences. We talk a lot about building community as a component of our DH work but really this has to go beyond retweets and blog links. EMiC provided a model for community building that is particularly suited to Canadianists and DH’ers. This kind of work is especially important for DH’ers who may be out of place in traditional departments and is especially urgent given everyone’s pessimism for the future of the humanities.

Lauren Klein has recently insisted on the need to practice both carework and codework in the digital humanities, arguing that DH, at its best, “can perform a double function: facilitating new digital approaches to scholarly research, and just as powerfully, calling attention to what knowledge, even with these new approaches, still remains out of reach.” Dean Irvine and the entire EMiC crew provided a model for this kind of DH work that encourages a wide range of projects alongside critical interrogations of the methods of DH itself. During my time with EMiC I repeatedly saw work that exemplified both carework and codework and serve as an example for all of our future scholarship. It will be little surprise to me if young scholars 20 or 30 years from now are studying the important role of EMiC in shaping Canadian literary scholarship.

Paul Barrett

May 29, 2015

Whalley Conference Schedule

The schedule for the conference in honour of George Whalley at Queen’s University, 24-26 July 2015, is now available here. The guest speakers include Michael Ondaatje, Elizabeth Hay, George Elliott Clarke, Werner Nell, and John Baxter. An impressive group of presenters has been assembled, and it includes Dean Irvine, Robert Lecker, Janet Friskney, J.A. Weingarten, and Christopher Doody, among others.

The registration form for the conference is available here.

May 4, 2015

What’s on the Menu? Chinese Restaurants in Canadian Literature

I would like to extend my thanks to EMiC for funding my RAship and facilitating our research on Gabrielle Roy, a French Canadian modernist writer who is too often overlooked in the English-speaking academic world. What began as an analysis of the complex editorial history of Gabrielle Roy’s “Où Iras-Tu Sam Lee Wong?” developed into a broader and richer study of the Asian-Canadian literary canon. On May 30th, 2015, Nathalie Cooke and I will attend the Association of Canadian and Quebec Literature conference (ACQL) to present our findings in a presentation entitled, “What’s on the Menu? Chinese Restaurants in Canadian Literature.” On April 30th, 2015, Nathalie Cook conducted a workshop entitled, “One Lonely Chinese Restaurateur of the Canadian Prairies and a Story with Three Endings,” at the University of Holguin, Cuba. The restaurant setting and the figure of the Chinese restaurateur prove especially useful motifs in delineating the evolution of Asian-Canadian literature. For, as Sam Lee Wong remarks about his job as a restaurant keeper, Chinese immigrants “almost all […] ended up in the same occupation” (53).

Our findings reveal a surge in Asian-Canadian writing after 1981 and a canon that is predominantly English with a few notable exceptions: Ook Chung, Ying Chen, and Kim Thúy (all appearing after 1981). Published six years prior to the watershed year of 1981 in Asian-Canadian literature, and likely written over a decade before, “Où Iras-Tu Sam Lee Wong?” is anomalous not only in terms of its editorial particularities, but also in its place in literary history. Written in French by a non-Asian writer, depicting Chinese settlement in the Anglo-Canadian landscape of Saskatchewan’s prairies, “Où Iras-Tu Sam Lee Wong?” is of particular interest as a story depicting cross-cultural encounter. As François Ricard also notes, the inspiration for the stories appearing in Un jardin au bout du monde (1975) came from Roy’s own experiences of such encounters. In a 1943 article published in Le Bulletin des Agriculteurs, Roy describes a Chinese restaurateur she encountered in Saskatchewan who “paraît toujour s’ennuyer et ne jamais se décorager, celui que partout on nomme Charlie: le restaurateur chinois.” The particularities of Roy’s story may be unique, but the figure of the Chinese restaurateur is an important one in Canadian history—and literature—that requires further study.

It is with EMiC’s support that we have been able to lay the groundwork for future projects on Asian-Canadian literature. I am grateful to the EMiC community and look forward to the future stages of this project.