Editing Modernism in Canada



Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm: “W’daub Awae: Editing Indigenous Texts as an Indigenous Editor”
This paper will examine the act of editing as an evolving Indigenous cultural practice using my experience as an Anishnaabe editor of texts and manuscripts by Indigenous writers and outlining the principles that guide my work, their basis in Anishnaabe culture and beliefs, and the challenges and issues that impact on this work. The paper will describe some of the difficulties that arise during cross cultural editing of Indigenous texts and will include some discussion of relevant traditional and current theories, practices and beliefs including Indigenous literary nationalism, as well as previous essays on Indigenous editing by Indigenous scholars Greg Young-Ing and Kimberly Blaeser.

Robert Bringhurst: “Air, Water, Land, Light, and Language”
“The Commons” is an old, familiar term for communally held property, especially in societies where private ownership may otherwise be the norm. Public parks and shared grazing land are examples. Language itself is also a vital part of the Commons. So is the literary heritage, which in most societies is constantly reverting to public domain. Attempts to stake private claims on language go back a long ways. They include attempts to control how people speak of the king, and who reads the scriptures and how. More recently, they include epidemics of logotypes and trademarks, and proposals to extend ad infinitum the life and scope of copyright. From time to time, the linguistic Commons also suffer from simple neglect – or from complex neglect, in the form of inflexible, arbitrary rules. I will explore the editorial and typographic implications of these phenomena, with reference to some of their analogues in the realms of air, water, land, and sunlight.

George Elliott Clarke: “Toward Establishing an—or the—‘Archive’ of African-Canadian Literature”
The obvious and even appropriate bias in reading African-Canadian—or Black Canadian—literature is to receive it as a ‘recent’ categorization, as a ‘now’ literature by ‘arrived’ writers (like the Canadian-by-choice Dionne Brand or the Canadian-by-birth Lawrence Hill).  Scholars have tended to perceive African-Canadian texts as ‘topical,’ as either a contemporary response to historical trauma (slavery, colonialism, segregation), or as a reflection upon tabloid headlines (police shootings, immigration woes, poverty, ‘glass ceilings,’ etc).  Save for anthologies by G.E. Clarke and W. Compton, along with research articles by Clarke, K. Vernon, R. Almonte, A. Cooper (and a few others), not much interest has been shown in the historical writings or transcribed speech of the ‘first’ African Canadians, those who were slaves, or settlers, or itinerant activists, preachers, teachers, journalists, and intellectuals.  Indeed, the distinguished African-Canadian author M. NourbeSe Philip disputes the value of these works as ‘literature.’  So, what is to be done?

My paper will argue for the committed study and recuperation of ‘early’ African-Canadian texts, in English and in French, from the 18th century to the mid-20th century.  It will also ponder the contents of a potential, national anthology of such works, and what the completion of such an editorial intervention may suggest about the ideational imperatives of African-Canadian literature from its inception (the ‘get-go’).  Theoretically, the establishment of an—or the—‘Archive’ of African-Canadian literature will make discussion of even current texts more coherent, if not ‘literate.’

Frank Davey: “bpNichol, editor”
bpNichol began editing, and theorizing about editing, at age 21, in the same year that he started publishing. Like many Canadian poet-editors–Sutherland, Souster, Purdy, Newlove, Bissett–he had little scholarly background; his editing tended to be an extension or reflection of his poetics. This paper will examine the relationship between his editorial projects and development as a writer, as well as the range of his projects, from little magazines (Ganglia, 1965-72, grOnk, 1967-80), small presses (Underwhich Editions), the 1971 visual poetry anthology The Cosmic Chef (included in his 1971 Governor-General’s Award citation), scholarly editions (his co-editing of collections by Louis Dudek, Robert Kroetsch, and R. Murray Schafer) to the numerous individual volumes of poetry and visual poetry he edited for Coach House Press and Talonbooks.

Kate Eichhorn and Heather Milne: “Labours of Love and Cutting Remarks: The Affective Economies of Editing”
Editorial work is frequently described as a “labour of love.” This construction recognizes that editorial projects are both essential and deeply undervalued while highlighting the extent to which such projects circulate in affective economies. With reference to three recent collaborative editorial projects, in this paper, we adopt the concept of affective economies to investigate how editorial projects might be theorized through questions of love, loss and binding relations. Most notably, our focus on affective economies challenges established discussions of literary production as “gift economies.” If gift economies assume that goods and services circulate but not necessarily with an expectation of return, affective economies recognize that circulation is by no means contingent on exchange and thereby, can more easily account for the actual losses and attachments editorial work frequently entails. In an affective economy, what matters is not what is in circulation but circulation itself.

Irene Gammel and Benjamin Lefebvre: “The Case of L.M. Montgomery”
“I was born to be an editor. I always edit everything. I edit my room at least once a week,” Margaret Anderson proclaimed in her 1930 autobiography My Thirty Years War, drawing a playful yet deliberate link between the editing of an avant-garde periodical, The Little Review, and her passion for interior decorating. Refusing to see editing as a “passive facilitation of others’ works,” as Jayne Marek observes in Women Editing Modernism, Anderson and her coeditor Jane Heap championed editing as a way of shaping modernism itself. In taking this view of editing as a bold and dynamic shaping of ideas and movements, I propose to explore editing within a Canadian context with the creation and consolidation of L.M. Montgomery Studies as an academic field. Just as Anderson and Heap were editing the Little Review to make it “an international organ,” so creative and rigorous editing has launched Montgomery studies into the global world.

Carole Gerson: “Collection Editing in Canada: Challenges and Compromises”
This paper will discuss cultural politics and practices of collection editing in Canada based on my experience with two different genres: the gathering of primary literary texts (mostly poetry) and the management of a multi-authored collection of scholarly texts, in this instance the three volumes of History of the Book in Canada (2004-07), which involved a team of seven editors and hundreds of contributors. With publications issued some time ago, it is possible to reflect on the impact of editorial decisions such as the inclusion or omission of specific authors, topics, or texts. With the more recent History of the Book in Canada, responses of reviewers provide some measure of the project’s success in meeting its goals. Such specific instances will lead to broader theorization about the politics and pragmatics of collection editing in Canada, including practices of co-editing, and about the contributions of such editing to the textual construction of a Canadian ethos. I will also reconsider the critique of modernist editorial principles that appears in my 1990 article about Canadian poetry anthologies and in my discussion about the canonical position of Pauline Johnson.

Terry Goldie and Daniel David Moses: “Canon Fodder: Editing Native Literature in Canada”
Daniel David Moses and Terry Goldie have now edited three editions of An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English and, with Armand Garnet Ruffo, are now editing a fourth edition.  Our purpose has always been first to make Native writing more available and second to offer a combination of historical and contemporary material that provides an apt overview of the field, particularly for teaching purposes. However, something that has been less of a concern for the editors has often been a primary concern for readers and instructors. This is representation. Do these texts accurately represent Native cultures? Are they representative of what people of the First Nations think? Are the authors representative of the different Nations and regions of Canada. Our paper will attempt to address these concerns and how we have and have not dealt with them.

Hannah McGregor: “Editing without Author[ity]: Collaboration, Authorship, and the Archive in the Work of ‘Martha Ostenso’”
This paper will investigate the history of a “troubling” collaboration—the largely unexamined collaborative writing relationship of Martha Ostenso and her husband Douglas Durkin—as well as moving towards the possibility of “troubling” the notion of collaboration as a concept with increasing relevance in our current academic context. By examining the multiple ways in which collaboration signifies—as a key feature of modernism, a point of resistance to the Romantic construct of singular authorship, a focus of social-text editing theory, a dominant trend in the field of digital humanities, a working reality for emerging scholars such as myself, and a point of literary historical contention when studying authors like Ostenso—I will question the possibility of collapsing the different meanings of collaboration under a single rubric. Instead this paper will work towards a complex and layered understanding of collaboration and a model of scholarly editing sensitive to this complexity.

Paul Hjartarson and Harvey Quamen: “Editing the Letters of Wilfred and Sheila Watson, 1956-1961: Scholarly Edition as Digital Project and Cultural Practice”
In this essay I examine the remediation of scholarly editing by the digital humanities and focus that examination on plans developed by the EMiC collaboratory at the University of Alberta to digitize and edit the letters Wilfred and Sheila Watson wrote one another between 1956 and 1961. In those years Sheila was a graduate student in Toronto studying for her doctorate under the supervision of Marshall McLuhan while Wilfred, a recently appointed professor of English at the University of Alberta, was in Edmonton seeking to build on his reputation as an internationally recognized poet and to establish himself as an avant garde playwright. Shirley Neuman and I are co-editors on the project; the letters will appear in both print and digital editions. These editions are the pilot for the Editing Wilfred Watson and Editing Sheila Watson projects, a joint digital initiative of the University of Alberta and St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto.

Robert Lecker: “Representations of Nation in Donna Bennett and Russell Brown’s An Anthology of Canadian Literature in English
This essay examines aspects of canon formation in the most widely-adopted anthology of English-Canadian literature published to date. First appearing as a two-volume set in 1982, the anthology was revised in 1990, 2002, and 2010. Brown and Bennett were partaking in a concept shared by their anthological predecessors: the idea that producing a Canadian national literature anthology was a means of validating the nation. The predominant tropes in these volumes are mimesis, community, and union. This paper examines the deployment of those tropes in the introduction to each edition, as well as in the narrative structure of each volume. My central argument is that their canonical currency is based on the editors’ reinforcement of an equation between mimesis and community first enunciated by Canada’s early anthologists and transmitted as a binding canonical principle from 1864 to the present.

Laura Moss and Cynthia Sugars: “Performing Editors:  Juggling Pedagogies in the Production of a ‘Canadian’ Literature”
This paper presents a meditation on the politics of editing a corpus of “Canadian literature.” Our presentation is based on our work as anthologists of the two-volume anthology Canadian Literature in English: Texts and Contexts (2009) and on our experience as editors of Canadian literary scholarship.  For whom do we edit?  What kind of reader is implied in advance, and what kind is produced (or imagined to be produced) as a result of the edited book?  What role should editors play in shaping past literary portraits and future literary debates?  Is the act of editing always at base a revisionary project, and if so, is this a bad thing? Is there such a thing as a debt to the past that is implied in the editorial performance, and what do we mean by that?  How corrective is the editor’s role? Is the anthology an historical representation or a pedagogical intervention? In this workshop we will question how an edited text might be said to perform a postcolonial pedagogy.

Zailig Pollock: “Bad News and Good News: The Material and Cultural Transformation of Scholarly Editing in Canada”
I propose to discuss my experience as an editor over the past 30 years which have seen an unprecedented transformation in scholarly editing in Canada. The edition on which I am currently at work, the Digital Page, will be a highly collaborative project, consisting of an online edition with an important, but, from a scholarly point of view, secondary, print component. In retrospect, the Digital Page appears to be the inevitable result of an evolution in editorial theory and in the technology available to implement that theory. However it should also be seen as a response to an increasingly negative climate for the kind of editing I did at the beginning of my career. It is my hope that this account of my experience as an editor will provide a case study of the positive evolution of scholarly editing in Canada as a material and cultural practice in response to forces outside its control.

Bart Vautour: “The Politics of Recovery and the Recovery of Politics: Editing Canadian Writing on the Spanish Civil War”
Editing and recovering Canadian writing about the Spanish Civil War demands a theoretical framework that is able to point scholarly enquiry toward retooling conceptions of citizenship beyond restrictive national or neo-liberal formulations. Emerging out of overriding tropological concerns of the writing itself, this framework understands these modernist expressions to be deeply interactive, reactive, and responsive to transnational and cosmopolitan literary and political networks. Editing Canadian writing about the Spanish Civil War also pushes the conceptual limits of exile, as Spain gets constructed over time as a political homeland in both utopian and elegiac ways. Rather than thinking of exile solely as a condition of national or geographical displacement, theorizing Canadian writing about the anti-fascist cause in Spain incorporates the ideological and political displacements and affiliations of Canadian modernist writing into the discourse of exile.

Christl Verduyn: “Editing Ins and Outs”
In Textual Criticism and Scholarly Editing (1990), G. Thomas Tanselle identifies “three basic questions that editors often face (how to assess authorial intention, how to handle factual errors, and how to present textual evidence),” as well as “editorial traditions in three disparate fields (fiction, historical documents, and writings that ante-date the invention of printing)” (ix). With the exception of the latter, my activities as an editor/co-editor have involved all these facets of editing, particularly in the case of my work on the writings of Canadian novelist Marian Engel (1933-1985). In addition to a critical study of Engel’s fiction, I have edited and published her personal notebooks, letters, and a novel she was working on at the time of her death. These projects have presented challenging issues of editorial practice, notably with respect to the inclusion/exclusion of materials sensitive to surviving family.  As a contribution to this workshop on editing, I propose to present and discuss some sample inclusion/ exclusion issues and how I determined to deal with them.

Darren Wershler: “The Ethically Incomplete Editor: Coach House Books and Canadian Digital Cultural Policy”
This paper uses Toby Miller’s concept of “ethical incompleteness” to explore the relationship that the practice of small-press editing in Canada bears to the institutions that create and manage our cultural policy, notably the Canada Council for the Arts and provincial arts councils. Ethical incompleteness is the constant, anxiety-ridden self-scrutiny that defines the processes by which we relate to the state; an editor’s life is largely defined by this relationship, as it consists of endless production of budgets, emails, applications, and reports that supplicate various government bodies for the funds to continue operating. The paper pays special attention to the current Canadian policy vacuum around digital publishing and print-on-demand technologies, arguing that it could largely have been avoided by providing more than token funding for Coach House’s unprecedented (and still largely unequalled) digital publishing efforts in the late 1990s. The current politesse of editor-grant officer relationships, however, needs to be redefined in order to make such innovation possible.