What Makes Canada’s Literature “Canadian”?

by cmacmillan on June 29, 2015

What makes a piece of literature “Canadian”? Is a piece of writing considered “Canadian” if it takes place in Canada? If the author is a citizen? If it’s the author’s birth place? This question has been long debated amongst Canadian Studies scholars and may never have a conclusive answer. Over the years, the International Journal of Canadian Studies and the Journal of Canadian Studies have both been sources that have facilitated the research of Canada’s literature by scholars, both domestic and abroad. The articles below reflect all the fascinating discoveries and discussions that have taken place over the years and that have expanded the definition of what defines a piece of writing as “Canadian”.

International Journal of Canadian Studies

Kuttainen, Victoria. “Trafficking Literature: Travel, Modernity, and the Middle Ground of Canadian and Australian Middlebrow Print Cultures 1.” International Journal of Canadian Studies 48 (2014): 85-103. Web.

Lang, Anouk. “Canadian Magazines and Their Spatial Contexts: Digital Possibilities and Practical Realities.” International Journal of Canadian Studies 48 (2014): 213-32. Web.

Morgan, Cecilia. ““A Sweet Canadian Girl”: English-Canadian Actresses’ Transatlantic and Transnational Careers through the Lenses of Canadian Magazines, 1890s–1940s.” International Journal of Canadian Studies 48 (2014): 119-35. Web.

Roberts, Gillian. “The Book of Negroes ’ Illustrated Edition: Circulating African-Canadian History through the Middlebrow.” International Journal of Canadian Studies 48 (2014): 53-66. Web.

Roy, Wendy. “Home as Middle Ground in Adaptations of Anne of Green Gables and Jalna.” International Journal of Canadian Studies 48 (2014): 9-31. Web.

Vautier, Marie. “Hemispheric Travel from Europe to Las Américas : The Imaginary and the Novel in Québec and Canada.” International Journal of Canadian Studies 48 (2014): 191-212. Web.

Journal of Canadian Studies

Camlot, Jason. “The Sound of Canadian Modernisms: The Sir George Williams University Poetry Series, 1966-74.” Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes 46.3 (2012): 28-59. Project MUSE. Web.

Davis, Laura K. “Hockey in the Canadian Imagination: Three Books on Hockey in Literature, Culture, and History.” Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes 46.1 (2012): 241-250. Project MUSE. Web.

Davis, Rocío G. “Locating Family: Asian-Canadian Historical Revisioning in Linda Ohama’s Obaachan’s Garden and Ann Marie Fleming’s The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam.” Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes 42.1 (2008): 1-22. Project MUSE. Web.

Fiamengo, Janice. “Looking at Animals, Encountering Mystery: The Wild Animal Stories of Ernest Thompson Seton and Charles G.D. Roberts.” Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes 44.1 (2010): 36-59. Project MUSE. Web.

Fuller, Danielle. and DeNel Rehberg Sedo. “A Reading Spectacle for the Nation: The CBC and “Canada Reads”. Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes 40.1 (2006): 5-36. Project MUSE. Web.

Garay, Kathleen E. and Christl Verduyn. “”Turning the Knobs on Writers’ Closets”: Archives and Canadian Literature in the 21st Century.” Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes 40.2 (2006): 5-17. Project MUSE. Web.

Lecker, Robert. “Nineteenth-Century English-Canadian Anthologies and the Making of a National Literature.” Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes 44.1 (2010): 91-117. Project MUSE. Web.

Robbins, Wendy. and Robin Sutherland. and Shao-Pin Luo. “Searching for Our Alma Maters: Women Professors in Canadian Fiction Written by Women.” Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes 42.2 (2008): 43-72. Project MUSE. Web.

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Written by guest blogger, Anna F. Peppard, PhD Candidate, York University

I have a confession to make: I am obsessed with The A-Team.

I began watching the show more than a decade ago, as a second-year undergrad with access to cable television for the first time, in my first apartment. Initially, I was compelled by a personal connection. I’m a distant relative of the show’s headline star, George Peppard, and people sometimes ask me about this when they hear my name, usually referencing The A-Team.

When I finally watched my first episode, I was hooked for a different reason.

The show was dumb, and yet, not dumb at all. In fact, it didn’t take me long to realize that behind (or, more appropriately, within) all the bloodless explosions, unconvincing disguises, hails of toothless bullets, and wordless montages featuring four grown men constructing Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions to soak ruthless bands of cowboy-hat wearing goons with orange soda, the show is incredibly smart. Politically problematic (to say the least), but fascinatingly sophisticated in its self-reflexive exploitation and exaggeration of the genre conventions of American action heroes.

After my first episode, I never missed the daily reruns, weekdays at 5pm on DejaView. Because I had class at the same time, I usually recorded the show using my VCR (this was before the days of Tivo, Netflic, or YouTube). Sometimes, though, I skipped class to watch. At that point in my life, the sonnets of John Donne just couldn’t compete with the cartoonishly violent exploits of Hannibal, Face, Murdoch, and B.A., criss-crossing the country in their GMC Vandura, fighting the good fight for the little guy against the big guy.

My decade-plus fascination with the show culminated in my first published article, “How Tonto Became Mr. T: The A-Team and the Transformation of the Western in Post-Vietnam America,” which appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of the Canadian Review of American Studies. The journey from fannish obsession to critical analysis was, however, not an easy one. I wrote the original version of the article as a term paper for a graduate seminar, during the first year of my PhD program at York University in Toronto. That paper was not well received. Actually, it was a disaster, very nearly earning me a failing grade—an unsettling experience for a lifelong straight-A student.

A wiser person might have taken that initial reception as a sign, and moved on. But I was sure I had the makings of a good idea buried somewhere in the thick file folder of hand-written, colour-coded notes I’d compiled while re-watching every episode of the show.

I stuck with it, and presented a revised version of the paper at the Canadian Association of American Studies conference, in 2011. That was my first academic conference, and I was more than a little nervous; I remember my voice wobbling as I tried to explain the significance of Hannibal Smith’s obsession with aquatic monster b-movies. To my relief, though, my conference paper was much better received than my term paper. So when the conference attendees were invited to revise their papers into articles for possible publication in CRAS, I thought I might as well toss my hat in the ring. Several months later, I was thrilled—and more than a little relieved—when my article was accepted for publication.

During the three years that it took to turn my once-disastrous term paper into a published article, by far my biggest challenge was untangling my own vexed relationship with the subject matter. As any academic who studies popular culture will tell you, writing about something you love a bit too much—something of which you’re not only an expert, but also a fan—can be very difficult. It involves interrogating your own emotions, your own desires, confronting your own manipulation by the entertainment machine, and your potential implication in the dissemination of questionable politics; inevitably, it means loving your obsession a bit less, or at the very least, a bit less unreservedly.

And yet, it’s also very rewarding, and, I think, very important. The study of popular culture is, essentially, the study of pleasure; it explores the human condition by examining what makes people happy. As John Fiske argues in his influential book Television Culture, even the most obviously escapist texts can teach us a great deal when we take the time to consider “what is escaped from, why escape is necessary, and what is escaped to.” From 1983 to 1987, The A-Team reflected and placated the complex needs and fantasies of a diverse group of 20 million people who once tuned in to watch it every week, and it’s these needs and fantasies that I tried to uncover and, hopefully, understand in the final version of my article.

I started out thinking that The A-Team was exceptional. And, in some ways, it is; I can’t quite say that there’s ever been another show quite like it. In another sense, though, it’s just like a great many other popular texts: seemingly unique while being, at its core, intensely familiar, sophisticated less in its politics than in its modes of representation, that is, in its ability to tell an old story in a new way, one that feels relevant to a social and political landscape that is, like the show itself, mostly a well-disguised return of the same.

These days, I’m still obsessed with The A-Team, even if I don’t love it quite as much as I used to. I will, however, always love that it began what will hopefully be a long career of analyzing popular culture.


Anna F. Peppard’s “How Tonto Became Mr. T: The A-Team and the Transformation of the Western in Post-Vietnam America”, can be found in the Summer 2014 issue of the Canadian Review of American Studies. Click Here to Read.

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Metadata – How to choose Keywords

by cmacmillan on May 1, 2015

In this series of blog posts we will be talking about how to make your article more discoverable by giving it rich, descriptive metadata. If you missed it, read our first post about what metadata is and how search engines use it, our post on how to write a great title, and our last post on how to write a great abstract.

The final piece of metadata we are going to discuss is keywords. Similarly to titles, it is important that keywords are not vague and that they instead use direct, descriptive terms that accurately reflect the article you have written.

Keywords do not have to be the words that appear the most times in your article, but should instead offer a reader at a glance an idea of the subject area and field of study. Keywords do not need to be only one word, which is an important point to remember. They can be two-to-four word phrases that make sense in the context of describing your article.

As is the case with other pieces of metadata, keywords are crawled and used to index your article by search engines. Having keywords that are strong indicators of the content of your article will boost your article in ranking and search results.

Some tips for writing keywords:

  • Don’t feel restricted to pick one-word keywords. They can be two-to-four word phrases.
  • Avoid broad keywords, or anything too general (e.g., “education”; “medicine”; “history”).
  • Avoid words that are too narrow or specific that are unlikely to be used by readers in searches.
  • Keywords are not restricted to the keyword section – they can (and should) be repeated in the title and abstract.

A good way to start thinking about what the keywords should be for your article is to ask yourself what you would type into a search bar to find the article you have written.

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Metadata – Why bother writing an abstract?

by cmacmillan on May 1, 2015

In this series of blog posts we will be talking about how to make your article more discoverable by giving it rich, descriptive metadata. If you missed it, read our first post about what metadata is and how search engines use it and our post on how to write a great title.

Abstracts – are they really important? Do you really need to write one? How much of a difference can having an abstract really make? The answer is pretty clear – any article that is going to appear online 100%, absolutely, must have a well written abstract to accompany it.

The reason for this is simple. As explained in our first post on how search engines work, the abstract for your article is going to be searched, the keywords it contains indexed, and this information will contribute to how your article is ranked by search engines. If you write a detailed, descriptive abstract, your article will be ranked higher than an identical article with no abstract. It is that simple. If you want people to find your article, an abstract is crucial.

Getting people to find it is just the first step. You also want your article to be read and cited. A well written abstract is the best tool to achieve this. By telling readers exactly what your article contains, they can quickly and easily determine if the content in your article is pertinent to their research.

So now that you’re convinced, what does a great abstract look like? Not all abstracts will look the same – they vary from discipline to discipline. An abstract in a scientific journal will look different than one in a literary journal. Regardless of your field of study, your abstract should consider the following information:

  1. What – what is the article about? What type of research is being discussed? What makes this article different than others on the same topic?
  2. How – if you are a life scientist or social scientist your abstract should describe how you conducted your research. If you are a humanities scholar, your abstract should tell your readers what theoretical approaches, if any, you are using.
  3. Where – Was there a particular geographic location, or region associated with the research?
  4. When – Was there a particular time period examined?
  5. Why – what makes this research new/interesting/important?
  6. So What – what were the conclusions, findings or implications?

Here are Antonia’s Dos and Don’ts for writing an abstract

DO

  • Write one
  • Use key words / terms / phrases
  • Define all acronyms, even common ones
  • Work within the set word
  • Obtain feedback from other subject specialists.

DON’T

  • Don’t just use the first paragraph of the article, or a collection of sentences
  • Don’t use too much technical or specialized jargon
  • Don’t include any information that is not also in the full article
  • Don’t include references – you want people to read your article, not go off and find one referenced in your abstract.

 

Takeaways:

  • Every article that will be published online absolutely needs an abstract.
  • A good abstract will increase the ranking and discoverability for search engines, and help readers decide which articles to read.
  • Abstracts should contain keywords and terms.

Next – key words!

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Metadata – Importance of the Title

by cmacmillan on May 1, 2015

In this series of blog posts we will be talking about how to make your article more discoverable by giving it rich, descriptive metadata. If you missed it, read our first post about what metadata is and how search engines use it.

The first piece of metadata that we are going to talk about it the TITLE and what makes a good title.

A good title should be descriptive – it should tell the reader exactly what the article is about. It should not use jargon, puns, or sarcasm. While humans may understand these figures of speech, the web crawlers that are reading the title, and ranking the article based on the words it contains, are not going to understand them.

For example, if an article about rats in New York City is titled “A very furry problem” a human reader might guess the topic, but there are no key words in this title to tell an internet crawler what the article is about. The article would therefore rank lowly in any searches on the topic of rats in NYC.

Your title should state what the article is about as simply and accurately as possible. If you have a pun, play on words, or joke you would like to use, be sure that it is only one part of your title, and that the other part meets the above criteria.

When writing the title for your article ask yourself – what is this article about? What makes this article interesting? If I were doing a search online for this article, what words would I search for? Does the title alone immediately tell readers what the article is about? The answers to these questions can help you come up with an informative title that will help your readers find it and boost your article in the right search rankings.

Takeaways:

  • Bad metadata will make even the very best article difficult to find, therefore affecting how many people read it and cite it.
  • A good title will boost your article in search rankings, making it easier to find for your readers and ultimately result in more readership and potentially citations.
  • A good title is descriptive and avoids jargon, puns, and sarcasm.

Next up – Abstracts!

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Scorpions in a Bottle: First Ministers and a Scrap over Canadian Federalism

April 13, 2015

Written by guest blogger, Raymond Blake Governing is a messy business in any state and none more so than in federal ones like Canada where authority is shared between two orders of government. Yet, federalism is not an end in itself but simply a means of dividing jurisdiction in the hopes of capturing the loyalty […]

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Canadian Historical Review author, Lisa Pasolli, explores the Child Care dilemma for Canadian Mothers during WWII

March 30, 2015

Written by guest blogger, Lisa Pasolli During the Second World War, thirty-four day care centres in Ontario and Quebec were established under the Dominion-Provincial Wartime Day Nurseries Agreement (WDNA). This shared federal-provincial funding of child care services was unprecedented in Canada, and federal officials insisted throughout the war that the agreement was no more than […]

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Lexicons of Early Modern English now includes over 713,000 word-entries!

March 13, 2015

Lexicons of Early Modern English now includes over 713,000 word-entries! Lexicons of Early Modern English is a growing historical database offering scholars unprecedented access to early books and manuscripts documenting the growth and development of the English language. With the recent additions of the immense Latin-English text, Ortus Vocabulorum, White Kennett’s very detailed etymological work, […]

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First issue of the Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health is now online and open access!

March 9, 2015

The Canadian Institute for Military & Veteran Health Research and the University of Toronto Press are pleased to announce the first issue of the Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health (JMVFH) is now online. The Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health (JMVFH), edited by Alice Aiken and Stéphanie Bélanger, and managed by Mike […]

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Call for Editor – JSP

February 23, 2015

Journal of Scholarly Publishing www.utpjournals.com/jsp The Journal of Scholarly Publishing (JSP) is currently seeking to fill the position of Editor. The Journal of Scholarly Publishing (JSP) was launched in October 1969 by staff at University of Toronto Press to explore scholarly publishing in the world of the university press. In the inaugural editorial, Marsh Jeanneret, […]

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