CanLit in Ruins

CanLit—the commonly used short form for English Canadian Literature as a cultural formation and industry—has been at the heart of several recent public controversies. Why? Because CanLit is breaking open to reveal the accepted injustices at its heart. It is imperative that these public controversies and the issues that sparked them be subject to careful and thorough discussion and critique.

Refuse: CanLit in Ruins provides a critical and historical context to help readers understand conversations happening about CanLit presently. One of its goals is to foreground the perspectives of those who have been changing the conversation about what CanLit is and what it could be. Topics such as literary celebrity, white power, appropriation, class, rape culture, and the ongoing impact of settler colonialism are addressed by a diverse gathering of writers from across Canada. This volume works to avoid a single metanarrative response to these issues, but rather brings together a cacophonous and ruinous multitude of voices.

With contributions by: Zoe Todd, Keith Maillard, Jane Eaton Hamilton, kim goldberg, Tanis MacDonald, Gwen Benaway, Lucia Lorenzi, Alicia Elliott, Sonnet l’Abbé, Marie Carrière, Kai Cheng Thom, Dorothy Ellen Palmer, Natalee Caple & Nikki Reimer, Lorraine York, Chelsea Vowel, Laura Moss, Phoebe Wang, A.H. Reaume, Jennifer Andrews, Kristen Darch & Fazeela Jiwa, Erika Thorkelson and Joshua Whitehead


Hannah McGregor

HANNAH McGREGOR is an Assistant Professor of Publishing at Simon Fraser University, a feminist podcaster, and a CanLit killjoy. She co-hosts the popular Harry Potter podcast Witch, Please, and hosts the slightly less popular podcast Secret Feminist Agenda, a weekly discussion of the insidious, nefarious, insurgent, and mundane ways we enact our feminism in our daily lives. She lives in Vancouver on the territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, Contributor Bios · 203 and Tsleil-Waututh, and has two cats; one is named after a poet, and the other is named after a breakfast.

Julie Rak

JULIE RAK is a Professor at the University of Alberta who lives and works on Treaty 6 and Métis territory. Julie was a Killam Professor for 2017–18 at her university. She is the author of two books, eight edited collections, and other publications in the areas of life writing and other non-fiction, Canadian literature in English, and book history. With Keavy Martin, she edited the new and way better edition of the landmark memoir about Inuit life, Life Among the Qallunaat, with the full participation of author Mini Aodla Freeman. Julie is completing a SSHRC-funded book manuscript, Social Climbing: Gender in Mountaineering Expedition Writing, for McGill-Queens University Press, and she promises her editor that she really is almost finished.

Erin Wunker

ERIN WUNKER researches, teaches, and writes in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Chapter Contributors Pages Year Price
MacGregor, Rak and Wunker discuss activism in CanLit that has emerge in light of recent controversies, such as UBCAccountable, the sexual harassment revelations at Concordia University, the …
; ; 20 $2.00
Zoe Todd frames her critique of the UBCAccountable movement in terms of the intersecting and overlapping forces of rape culture, colonialism, and white supremacy. She particularly calls upon …
6 $0.60
Keith Maillard’s essay on connects the events at the University of British Columbia in 2016 surrounding Stephen Galloway and the following UBCAccountable open letter to the 2017 cultural …
7 $0.70
Jane Eaton Hamilton discusses an interaction with a perpetrator after learning of complaints of sexual harrassment against him.
7 $0.70
The author discusses her poem "small birds" in context of the UBCAccountable open letter.
5 $0.50
Tanis MacDonald discusses what class and CanLit have to do with each other.
7 $0.70
A poem by Tanis MacDonald taking up refusal as a galvanizing mode of action in CanLit.
3 $0.30
A poem by Gwen Benaway about the myth of representation in CanLit
4 $0.40
Lucia Lorenzi’s essay challenges us not only to reckon with the history of CanLit as an institution structured by multiple forms of oppression and exclusion, but also to think about how …
9 $0.90
Alicia Elliott discuess the racism, neocolonialism, and myriad forms of entitlement that saturate CanLit – particularly the 2017 "Appropriation Prize."
6 $0.60
Sonnet L’Abbé grapples with history and with literary inheritance, as she works with and against what is one of the most overdetermined traditional literary forms.
3 $0.30
Writing from the perspective of the university and the study of Canadian literature, Marie Carrière thinks through the work of self-situation and acknowledgements of power in relation to a …
6 $0.60
Kai Cheng Thom addresses some of the ways in which “CanLit” functions as metonym for the settler-colonial project of nation-building.
6 $0.60
Dorothy Ellen Palmer builds on her writing on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog, and focuses on what due process means and on the labour issues — including Steven Galloway’s own rights …
8 $0.80
The hierarchical structures of literary culture are central to writer and professor Natalee Caple’s interview with writer Nikki Reimer.
; 9 $0.90
In her contribution, Lorraine York, one of the leading scholars of Margaret Atwood’s work, thinks about the ethics of academic cultural capital and how it can work to either shore up or, …
6 $0.60
Chelsea Vowel’s poem is a powerful tying-together of the many forces that constitute the dumpster fire as it extends beyond CanLit into Canadian culture, society, and politics writ large.
2 $0.20
In her contribution, Laura Moss foregrounds her roles as both professor and editor. Rather than avoiding issues of power in both these roles, Moss addresses them directly as a mode of both …
3 $0.30
Phoebe Wang thinks about power and her position of power from the perspective of mentorship within the Asian-Canadian writing community.
8 $0.80
In her essay, A. H. Reaume draws on the work of activists like Jael Richardson, Alicia Elliott, and Carrianne Leung,who argue that we must resist the desire to push past critique into optimism. …
8 $0.80
Through the setting of the university, literature scholar Jennifer Andrews asks what the relationship is between the study of Canadian literature within the university and the industry called CanLit.
12 $1.20
The university as an institution is central to writers and activists Kristen Darch and Fazeela Jiwa’s conversation, as they think through the UBCAccountable controversy as an event that can …
; 7 $0.70
Community — its possibilities and its limitations — is also central to Erika Thorkelson’s essay, as she thinks about how and why we fail to communicate across divides of status …
7 $0.70
Joshua Whitehead powerfully evokes the failures of accountability that have defined CanLit, and decentres CanLit as a white colonial project in favour of Indigenous Lit. He brings us back to the …
8 $0.80