Canadian Literature (journal)

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Canadian Literature  
Discipline Literature
Language English, French
Publication details
University of British Columbia (Canada)
Publication history
1959 to present
ISSN 0008-4360

Canadian Literature is a quarterly of criticism and review published by the University of British Columbia.

Canadian Literature was founded in 1959[1] by George Woodcock, who produced seventy-three issues before retiring in 1977. After Woodcock's retirement, the University of British Columbia invited William H. New, formerly an advisory editor, to act as editor. New headed the journal until 1995, producing seventy-two issues. Between 1995 and 2003, Eva-Marie Kröller took up the role of editor. In addition to producing thirty-four issues, Kröller expanded Canadian Literature by introducing a peer review process and recruiting distinguished Canadian and international scholars to make up an editorial board. In 2003, Laurie Ricou, who has been either an associate or acting editor since 1983, became the journal's editor. Ricou's term ended in 2007 and saw Margery Fee taking the helm as editor.[2]

Canadian Literature aims to foster a wider academic interest in the Canadian literary field, and publishes a wide range of material from Canadian and international scholars, writers, and poets. Each issue contains a variety of articles and an extensive book reviews section. As well, each issue includes selections of unpublished original poetry from Canadian contributors.

To give its pages depth and breadth, Canadian Literature alternates general and special issues. The general issues deal with a range of periods and topics, while the special issues focus on more specific topics, including travel, ethnicity, women's writing, and multiculturalism. Canadian Literature is not aligned with any single theoretical approach; rather, it is interested in exploring articles on all subjects relating to writers and writing in Canada.[3] Each issue contains both English and French content from a wide range of contributors and has been described as "critically eclectic".[4]

Canadian Literature has an average page length of 208 pages. The print circulation is approximately over a thousand while the readership is worldwide as it is distributed in Canada, US, and twenty-five other countries.[5] Institutions make up 85% of the subscription base, which is largely made up of university and college libraries. In 2007, Canadian Literature's subscriber base was 45% Canadian, 36% American and 19% international.[6]


Canadian Literature was established in the autumn of 1958 by Roy Daniells and George Woodcock at the University of British Columbia. The first issue appeared in summer 1959 to skeptical reception because of a general belief that Canada had no national literature; some critics predicted that the journal would run out of material after only a few issues.[6] Initially, editor George Woodcock intended that Canadian Literature would be fully bilingual in French and English, but due to the lack of French submissions, after ten years of publication French-language material never rose above 10% of an issue's content.[6] At the time of its foundation, Canadian Literature was the first and only quarterly entirely devoted to the discussion and criticism of Canadian writing and literature.[7] Although the position of editor eventually went to George Woodcock, the university's first choice would have been folk bibliographer and UBC's only specialist in Canadian literature, Reginald Watters, but instead offered the position to Woodcock after Watters decided to accept a fellowship in Australia.[8] Under Woodcock's editorship, he strived to keep the journal from being purely academic,[9] instead adopting a tone "serious but not academic, popular but not journalistic, contextual more than textual" (Fetherling).[10] Woodcock later attributed Canadian Literature's success to having arrived "at the right moment in the development of a Canadian literary tradition, and created its own ground swell of critical activity."[11]

Woodcock resigned from editorship in 1977, having edited 73 issues of the journal. He appointed his first choice, W. H. New, to succeed him. New had served as an assistant editor since 1965. New chose to give priority to First Nations, Asian Canadian, Caribbean Canadian and other minority literatures, which previously had been under-represented in Canadian literary criticism. New retired from the position of Editor in 1955, having edited 72 issues.[6]

New was succeeded by Eva-Marie Kröller as editor. She raised the journal's reputation world wide by establishing an international editorial board and refining the peer-review process for article submissions, which had been started by New. The goal of formalizing the peer-review process was to allow the journal to keep appealing to both general and scholarly audiences.[6] During Kröller's editorship, Canadian Literature fortified its commitment to Canadian francophone writers by appointing its first Associate Editor specifically for francophone writing, Michel Rocheleau. Under Associate Editor Réjean Beaudoin's guidance, Canadian Literature has published several special issues featuring a majority of French content, such as "Littérature Francophone hors-Québec / Francophone Writing Outside Quebec."[6]

In 1995, the journal underwent major design changes: it moved from plain beige covers to coloured, changed to a narrower trim, and added more pages to each issue in order to accommodate an expanded focus on themes such as postcolonialism, poetics, cultural history, and multiculturalism. The journal also decided to keep publishing original poems by Canadian writers as a part of its tradition as "an in-between" literary periodical.[7]

In 2012, Canadian Literature launched a free online classroom resource called CanLit Guides. The guides use archival material from the journal to teach students about academic writing and reading.

Fiftieth anniversary[edit]

Canadian Literature celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009 by holding a four-day gala from September 30 to October 3, 2009. It included a two-day conference entitled "The Future of Canadian literature / Canadian Literature" featuring talks by Canadian writers and scholars Thomas King, Roch Carrier, Steven Galloway and Aritha Van Herk, along with presentations by Canadian and international academics and graduate students.[12] At the conference, 35 specialists on Canadian literature from 21 universities across Canada presented five-minute lectures on the future of Canadian literature, writing, and publishing.[13]

On October 1, the conference was followed by the launches of Sherrill Grace's book On the Art of Being Canadian, published by UBC Press and From A Speaking Place: Writings from the First Fifty Years of Canadian Literature, edited by W. H. New, and published by Ronsdale Press. A silent auction was held with all proceeds going to the Canadian Literature 50th Anniversary Tuition Award, which benefits undergraduate students interning at Canadian Literature.[13] The auction included pieces donated by Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Dennis Lee, Thomas King, Patrick Lane, Joni Mitchell, Fred Wah and other Canadian artists and writers.[14]


In 1988, Canadian Literature became the only journal to win the Gabrielle Roy Prize for best English book-length studies in Canadian and Québec literary criticism.[15] More recently, the US-based Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) presented Eva-Marie Kröller with a Distinguished Editor award in 2004 in recognition of her work with Canadian Literature.[16] Kröller's award is not the only recognition to come to the journal in recent years. In 2004, William H. New was awarded the Governor General's International Award for Canadian Studies.[17] The three most recent editors—New, Kröller, and Ricou—are also recipients of the Killam Teaching Awards.[18] In 2006, Eva-Marie Kröller and Laurie Ricou joined W.H. New, who was elected in 1986, as Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada.[19][20] In 2007, the Governor General named New an Officer of the Order of Canada.[21] In 2009, Canadian Literature won a Canadian Online Publishing Award for Best Cross Platform for their poetry archive CanLit Poets.[22] The publication of Canadian Literature is assisted by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council[23] the UBC Faculty of Arts,[24] and acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Magazine Fund towards web enhancement.[25]


  1. ^ Wynne Francis. "The Expanding Spectrum" (Book Chapter). Canadian Literature. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  2. ^ Canadian Literature: About. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  3. ^ Woodcock, George. Editorial, Canadian Literature 1. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  4. ^ "Canadian Literature / Litterature Canadienne." Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada. Ed. W.H. New. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002. Print.
  5. ^ Canadian Literature, Magazine Association of BC website. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Potter, Laura. "A Short History of Canadian Literature." From A Speaking Place: Writings from the First Fifty Years of Canadian Literature. Eds. W.H. New et al. Vancouver: Ronsdale, 2009.
  7. ^ a b "Canadian Literature." The Concise Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. Ed. William Toye. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2001.
  8. ^ Klinck, Carl F. Giving Canada a Literary History. Ed. Sandra Djwa. Ottawa: Carleton UP for U of Western Ontario. Cited in Fetherling, Douglas. The Gentle Anarchist: a Life of George Woodcock. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1998.
  9. ^ Doyle, Mike. "Working with George Woodcock." Making Waves: Reading BC and Pacific Northwest Literature. Ed. Trevor Carolan. Vancouver: Anvil / University of the Fraser Valley P, 2010.
  10. ^ Fetherling, Douglas. The Gentle Anarchist: a Life of George Woodcock. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1998.
  11. ^ Woodcock, George. Beyond the Blue Mountains: An Autobiography. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1987. cited in Potter, Laura. "A Short History of Canadian Literature." From A Speaking Place: Writings from the First Fifty Years of Canadian Literature. Eds. W.H. New et al. Vancouver: Ronsdale, 2009.
  12. ^ Program. Retrieved 23 March 2011., Canadian Literature 50th Anniversary Gala.
  13. ^ a b September 2, 2009 Canadian Literature 50th Anniversary Gala Press Release. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  14. ^ Listings for Silent Auction, Canadian Literature 50th Anniversary Gala. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  15. ^ The Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures: The ACQL Literary Prize recipients.. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  16. ^ Council of Editors of Learned Journals: Distinguished Editor Award Winners.. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  17. ^ Governor General's International Award for Canadian Studies Award Winners, International Council for Canadian Studies. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  18. ^ UBC Killiam Teaching Prize Award Winners. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  19. ^ All Fellows, Royal Society of Canada. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
  20. ^ History, Canadian Literature. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  21. ^ Governor General Announces New Appointments to the Order of Canada, Order of Canada Archives, 20 February 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  22. ^ 2009 Finalists, Canadian Online Publishing Awards. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  23. ^ 2008 SSCRC grant results,
  24. ^ Journal Masthead
  25. ^ Publications Assistance Program 2009-2010 Funding, Canadian Heritage.

External links[edit]