Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Interviews, Recommendations, and More

#LookItUp: Knowledge Matters

"University presses offer the antidote to alternative facts and the assault on reason, and do it authoritatively and elegantly.”

In his keynote to the annual conference of the Association of American University Presses in June, veteran journalist Dan Rather declared that “we all must be … vigilant in renewing our compact with books and deep thoughts.… [University presses] offer the antidote to alternative facts and the assault on reason, and do it authoritatively and elegantly.”

Canadian university presses, with their counterparts in the United States, celebrate University Press Week annually in November to “highlight the extraordinary work of nonprofit scholarly publishers and their many contributions to culture, the academy, and an informed society.” This year’s theme, which resonates in an era of “fake news” and “alternate facts,” is #LookItUp: Knowledge Matters, a tag that asks us to value the expertise and knowledge of our authors and publishing partners.

We asked presses to nominate a title they wished to highlight for this week, and the responses were as varied as you might expect. From a history of snack foods in Canada to the examination of Alberta’s changing “brand,” the list of books illustrates the contribution of Canadian university presses to our national body of knowledge. University press books are available wherever books are sold. Why not pick one up today?

To keep up with news and events, including the annual blog tour, follow @aaupresses and the hash tags #ReadUp and #LookItUp on Twitter.


Book Cover My Decade at Old Sun

My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell, by Arthur Bear Chief

About the book: Arthur Bear Chief suffered both sexual and psychological abuse during his time at Old Sun Residential school in Gleichen on the Siksika Nation. My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell is a collection of chronological vignettes that depict the punishment, cruelty, and injustice that Arthur endured at Old Sun and then later relived in the traumatic process of retelling his story in connection with a complicated claims procedure.

Late in life, after working for both the provincial and federal government, Arthur returned home to Gleichen. It was there that he began to reconnect with Blackfoot language and culture and to write his story.


Book Cover Snacks

Snacks: A Canadian Food History, by Janis Thiessen

About the book: Snacks is a history of Canadian snack foods, of the independent producers and workers who make them, and of the consumers who can’t put them down.

Janis Thiessen profiles several iconic Canadian snack food companies, including Old Dutch Potato Chips, Hawkins Cheezies, and chocolate maker Ganong. These companies have developed in distinctive ways, reflecting the unique stories of their founders and their intense connection to specific locations.

These stories of salty or sweet confections also reveal a history that is at odds with popular notions of “junk food.” Through extensive oral history and archival research, Thiessen uncovers the roots of our deep loyalties to different snack foods, what it means to be an independent snack food producer, and the often-quirky ways snacks have been created and marketed.


Book Cover Claire L'Heaureax Dube

Claire L’Heureux-Dubé: A Life, by Constance Backhouse

About the book: Both lionized and vilified, Claire L’Heureux-Dubé has shaped the Canadian legal landscape – and in particular its highest court. Only the second woman on the Supreme Court of Canada, L’Heureux-Dubé anchored her approach to cases in their social, economic, and political context. This compelling biography takes a similar tack, tracing the experience of a francophone woman within the male-dominated Quebec legal profession – and within the primarily anglophone world of the Supreme Court. In the process, Claire L’Heureux-Dubé enhances our understanding of the Canadian judiciary, the creation of law, the Quebec socio-legal environment, and the nation’s top court.


Book Cover Ranching Women

Ranching Women of Southern Alberta, by Rachel Herbert

About the book: Once dominated by large cattle operations covering thousands of acres, Alberta in the 1880s-1930s saw a shift as small, family-owned ranches began to dot the province's southern plains. While this era of agriculture might conjure images of cowboys riding through the foothills or ranch hands tilling the prairie fields, women, too, played an integral part in this rapidly changing industry. Ranching Women in Southern Alberta explores the world of these women, and their efforts to ensure the economic viability of their family ranches and the social harmony of their families and communities. Rachel Herbert examines what life was like for ranching women, who faced a myriad of challenges while at the same time enjoying more personal freedom than their urban and European contemporaries. This book pays homage to the brave and talented women who rode the range, carving out a role for themselves during the dawn of the family ranching era.


Book Cover Canadian Carnival Freaks

Canadian Carnival Freaks and the Extraordinary Body, 1900-1970s, by Jane Nicholas

About the book: In 1973, a five year old girl known as Pookie was exhibited as "The Monkey Girl" at the Canadian National Exhibition. Pookie was the last of a number of children exhibited as 'freaks' in twentieth-century Canada.

Jane Nicholas takes us on a search for answers about how and why the freak show persisted into the 1970s. In Canadian Carnival Freaks and the Extraordinary Body, 1900–1970s, Nicholas offers a sophisticated analysis of the place of the freak show in twentieth-century culture. Freak shows survived and thrived because of their flexible business model, government support, and by mobilizing cultural and medical ideas of the body and normalcy. This book is the first full length study of the freak show in Canada and is a significant contribution to our understanding of the history of Canadian popular culture, attitudes toward children, and the social construction of able-bodiness. Based on an impressive research foundation, the book will be of particular interest to anyone interested in the history of disability, the history of childhood, and the history of consumer culture.

Book Cover Violence Against Indigenous Women

Violence Against Indigenous Women: Literature, Activism, Resistance, by Allison Hargreaves

About the book: Violence against Indigenous women in Canada is an ongoing crisis, with roots deep in the nation’s colonial history. Despite numerous policies and programs developed to address the issue, Indigenous women continue to be targeted for violence at disproportionate rates. What insights can literature contribute where dominant anti-violence initiatives have failed? Centring the voices of contemporary Indigenous women writers, this book argues for the important role that literature and storytelling can play in response to gendered colonial violence. 

Indigenous communities have been organizing against violence since newcomers first arrived, but the cases of missing and murdered women have only recently garnered broad public attention. Violence Against Indigenous Women joins the conversation by analyzing the socially interventionist work of Indigenous women poets, playwrights, filmmakers, and fiction-writers. Organized as a series of case studies that pair literary interventions with recent sites of activism and policy-critique, the book puts literature in dialogue with anti-violence debate to illuminate new pathways toward action.


Book Cover Tug of War

Tug of War: Surveillance Capitalism, Military Contracting, and the Rise of the Security State, by Jocelyn Wills

About the book: Selling Earth observation satellites on their abilities to predict and limit adverse environmental change, politicians, business leaders, the media, and technology enthusiasts have spent sixty years arguing that space exploration can create a more peaceful, prosperous world. Capitalist states have also socialized the risk and privatized the profits of the commercial space industry by convincing taxpayers to fund surveillance technologies as necessary components of sovereignty, freedom, and democracy. Jocelyn Wills’s Tug of War reminds us that colonizing the cosmos has not only accelerated the arms race but also encouraged government contractors to compete for the military and commercial spoils of surveillance. Although Canadians prefer to celebrate their role as purveyors of peaceful space applications, Canada has played a pivotal part in the expansion of neoliberal policies and surveillance networks that now encircle the globe, primarily as a political ally of the United States and component supplier for its military-industrial complex. Tracing the forty-five-year history of Canada’s largest space company—MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA)—through the lens of surveillance studies and a trove of oral history transcripts, government documents, trade journals, and other sources, Wills places capitalism’s imperial ambitions squarely at the centre of Canada-US relations and the privatization of the Canadian political economy. Tug of War confronts the mythic lure of technological progress and the ways in which those who profess little interest in war rationalize their leap into military contracting by avoiding the moral and political implications of their work.


Book Cover Tar Wards

Oil, Environment and Alberta's Image, by Geo Takach

About the book: Tar Wars offers a critical inside look at how leading image-makers negotiate escalating tensions between continuous economic growth mandated by a globalized economic system and its unsustainable environmental costs. As place branding assumes paramount importance in an increasingly global, visual, and ecologically conscious society, an international battle unfolds over Alberta’s bituminous sands. This battle pits independent documentary filmmakers against professional communicators employed by government and the oil industry. Tar Wars engages scholars and students in communications, film, environmental studies, social psychology, PR, media and cultural studies, and petrocultures. This book also speaks to decision makers, activists, and citizens exploring intersections of energy, environment, culture, politics, economy, media and power.


Book Cover Towards an  Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge

Towards an Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge, by Pam Hall

About the book: From boat-building to berries, from knitting socks to mending nets, Towards an Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge vividly presents the rich, place-based knowings and doings of more than one hundred knowledge-holders from rural Newfoundland. Renowned artist Pam Hall perfectly marries her singular artistic vision and her exhaustive community-based research in a stunning celebration and preservation of rural knowledge. These images and texts come together to reveal and revalue the local in a time when global monoculture seems overwhelming.


Book Cover Arab Cooking on a  Prairie Homestead

Arab Cooking on a Prairie Homestead: Recipes and Recollections from a Syrian Pioneer, by Habeeb Salloum

About the book: In the 1920s, Habeeb Salloum's parents left behind the orchards and vineyards of French-occupied Syria to seek a new life on the windswept, drought-stricken Canadian prairies. With recollections that show the grit and improvisation of early Syrian pioneers, Arab Cooking on a Prairie Homestead demonstrates Salloum's love of traditional Arab cuisine. By growing "exotic" crops brought from their country of origin—such as lentils, chickpeas, and bulgur—the Salloums survived the Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930s, and helped change the landscape of Canadian farming.

Over 200 recipes—from dumplings and lentil pies to zucchini mint soup—in this updated classic will provide today's foodies and urban farmers with dishes that are not only delicious, but also climate-friendly and gentle on your wallet!


Book Cover Jacob Isaac Segal

Jacob Isaac Segal: A Montreal Yiddish Poet and His Milieu, by Pierre Anctil, translated by Vivian Felsen

About the book: Born in the Ukraine in 1896, and settling in Montreal in 1910, Segal became one of the first Yiddish writers in Canada. His poetry, infused with lyricism and mysticism, along with the numerous essays and articles he penned, embodied both a rich literary tradition and the modernism of his day. 

Pierre Anctil has written so much more than a biography. For the first time, Segal’s poetic production is referenced, translated and rigorously analyzed, and includes over 100 pages of appendices, shedding light on the artistic, spiritual, cultural and historical importance of his oeuvre. By introducing the reader to the poet’s work through previously unpublished translations, Anctil demonstrates that in many respects it reflects the history of the Jewish immigrants who arrived in North America from Russia, the Ukraine and Poland at the beginning of the 20th century, as well as the tragic experiences of Jewish intellectual refugees of the interwar period.

This admirably written, sweeping yet subtle, work will appeal both to scholars and to a broader audience.

The original French version was awarded the prestigious 2014 Canada Prize in the Humanities by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.


Edmund Alleyn

Be sure to check out these publications from Quebec university presses as well!

Edmund Alleyn, by Gilles LaPointe (Les Presses de l’université de Montréal ).

Offers a wealth of information on Edmund Alleyn’s personal life, on his aesthetic ideas as well as on his commitment as an artist and sheds light on his decisive contribution to contemporary art history in Québec.


Book Cover Le parlementarisme canadien 6e edition, sous la direction de Réjean Pelletier et de Manon Tremblay

Le parlementarisme canadien 6e edition, sous la direction de Réjean Pelletier et de Manon Tremblay (Presses de l’université Laval).

Depuis maintenant deux décennies, Le parlementarisme canadien est devenu un ouvrage incontournable en langue française sur les institutions et les principaux acteurs politiques au Canada et au Québec ainsi que sur les aspects les plus fondamentaux du fédéralisme canadien.


Book Cover Weather and Climate Risk

Weather and Climate Risk Communication, sous la direction de Bernard Motulsky, Jean Bernard Guindon, Flore Tanguay-Hébert (Presses de l’université du Québec).

We are all exposed to meteorological and climate risks that impact our daily lives to some degree. The purpose of this book is to convey the role of communications in risk management.





Comments here

comments powered by Disqus

More from the Blog