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Literary Criticism General

ReCalling Early Canada

Reading the Political in Literary and Cultural Production

edited by Jennifer Blair, Daniel Coleman, Kate Higginson & Lorraine York

foreword by Carole Gerson

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
May 2005
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    Publish Date
    May 2005
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ReCalling Early Canada is the first substantial collection of essays to focus on the production of Canadian literary and cultural works prior to WWI. Reflecting an emerging critical interest in the literary past, the authors seek to retrieve the early repertoire available to Canadian readers-fiction and poetry certainly, but family letters, photographs, journalism, and captivity narratives are also investigated. Filling a significant gap in Canadian criticism, the authors demonstrate that to recall the past is not only to shape it, but also to reshape the present. This fresh interest in the cultural past, informed by new approaches to historical inquiry, has resulted in a unique and diverse investigation of more than two centuries of a little known "early Canada."

About the authors

A specialist in Canadian literature, Jennifer Blair teaches in the Department of English at the University of Ottawa. Her research centres on early Canadian literature, with a focus on architecture and the circulation of information in colonial Canada. She has published essays in Studies in Canadian Literature, English Studies in Canada, and Feminist Media Studies.

Jennifer Blair's profile page

After finishing high school in Ethiopia, Daniel Coleman earned university degrees at the University of Regina and the University of Alberta. He now holds the Canada Research Chair in Critical Ethnicity and Race Study in the English department of McMaster University. Daniel Coleman is a leading researcher in the depiction of immigrant men in Canadian literature. He has won the John Charles Polanyi Prize for his study of how literary texts produce and reinforce categories of cultural identification such as gender, ethnicity and nationality. His critically acclaimed book, Masculine Migrations: Reading the Postcolonial Male in "New Canadian" Narratives, published in 1998 by University of Toronto Press, is considered the foundational Canadian work in the field. While being a bahir-zaff throughout his childhood brought Daniel Coleman the pain of never fully belonging, it also gave him the immeasurable benefits and insights of an intercultural life. Several of his essays on his missionary childhood have appeared in magazines and journals. "The Babies in the Colonial Washtub," included in a revised form in The Scent of the Eucalyptus, won a Silver Medal in the National Magazine Awards. 

Daniel Coleman's profile page

Kate Higginson's doctoral work examines the writing of colonial captivities and indigenous internments in Canada. Her latest article maps Mohawk or Haudenosaunee nationalism and the memorialization of Joseph Brant in the photography of Shelley Niro (Essays on Canadian Writing, Fall 2003).

Kate Higginson's profile page

Lorraine York is Senator William McMaster Chair in Canadian Literature and Culture in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Her most recent books are Margaret Atwood and the Labour of Literary Celebrity (2013) and Literary Celebrity in Canada (2007). She is currently at work on a project on reluctant celebrity.

Lorraine York's profile page

Born in Montreal, Carole Gerson is a professor in the English Department at Simon Fraser University. Her research on Canadian literary and publishing history and on early Canadian women writers has resulted in many publications, including two books on Pauline Johnson. She was a member of the editorial team for the major three-volume project History of the Book in Canada, for which she co-edited volume 3, covering the period 1918–1980.

Carole Gerson's profile page


  • Unknown, The Alcuin Society Citations for Excellence in Book Design in Canada - Honourable Mention, Prose Nonfiction

Editorial Reviews

"[T]he essays cover terrain as varied as Theresa Gowanlock's captivity narrative, the documentation of the Aboriginal 'family' by white photographers, and conflicting national identities as portrayed in French and English fiction. This collection is highly recommended for both undergraduate and graduate collections in academic libraries." Allison Sivak, Canadian Book Review Annual, 2006

"[The editors] have provided a solid body of work that can be analysed from a variety of perspectives." George Melnyk, The Canadian Historical Review, Vol. 87, No. 3, September 2006

"ReCalling Early Canada positions the act of recall not as simplistic retrieval but rather as a dynamic interaction between past and present. The essays collected in this book aim to look to the past not necessarily to participate in the protect of nation building, but rather to query the methodology, politics and ends of historical engagement; the processes of selection through which certain texts, objects and figures are deemed to be worthy of study; the frames through which we analyze the past; and the provisional characteristics of such frames..ReCalling Early Canada begins with a lengthy and insightful introduction that draws attention to the complexities of the 'politics of recollection' (xvi) upon which this project is based. The editors emphasize the importance of reading the non-canonical together with the canonical in order to challenge the contingencies of value upon which such a distinction is based. They foreground the limitations of the nation as an organizational category by reading Canada as a 'site of conflicting confederacies' located within, and sometimes poised against, the nation as a geopolitical entity (xxiii). The introduction also draws attention to the tendency of the archive to shape how we recall early Canada..[T]he essays collected in ReCalling Early Canada indicate a welcome shift away from the 'colony to nation' paradigm towards a more nuanced engagement with history, place and nation." Heather Milne, TOPIA 15, Spring, 2006.

Other titles by Jennifer Blair

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A Biography of an Urban Place

by (author) Daniel Coleman

Beyond "Understanding Canada"

Transnational Perspectives on Canadian Literature

edited by Melissa Tanti, Jeremy Haynes, Daniel Coleman & Lorraine York
contributions by Michael Bucknor, Anne Collett, Pilar Cuder-Domínguez, Ana María Fraile-Marcos, Cristina Ivanovici, Milena Kalicanin, Smaro Kamboureli, Katalin Kürtösi, Vesna Lopicic, Belén Martín-Lucas, Claire Omhovère, Lucia Otrísalová, Don Sparling, Christl Verduyn & Elizabeth Yeoman

The Foreigner

A Tale of Saskatchewan

by (author) Ralph Connor
afterword by Daniel Coleman

Retooling the Humanities

The Culture of Research in Canadian Universities

edited by Daniel Coleman & Smaro Kamboureli

Countering Displacements

The Creativity and Resilience of Indigenous and Refugee-ed Peoples

edited by Daniel Coleman, Erin Goheen Glanville, Wafaa Hasan & Agnes Kramer-Hamstra
contributions by Subhasri Ghosh, Jon Gordon, Catherine Graham, Maroussia Hajdukowski-Ahmed, Mazen Masri, Jean McDonald & Pavithra Narayanan

Narratives of Citizenship

Indigenous and Diasporic Peoples Unsettle the Nation-State

edited by Aloys N.M. Fleischmann, Nancy Van Styvendale & Cody McCarroll
contributions by David Chariandy, Lily Cho, Daniel Coleman, Jennifer Bowering Delisle, Sydney Iaukea, Marco Katz, Lindy Ledohowski, Carmen Robertson, Laura Schechter, Paul Ugor, Dorothy Woodman & Robert Zacharias

In Bed with the Word

Reading, Spirituality, and Cultural Politics

by (author) Daniel Coleman

White Civility

The Literary Project of English Canada

by (author) Daniel Coleman

Scent of Eucalyptus

A Missionary Childhood in Ethiopia

by (author) Daniel Coleman

Other titles by Lorraine York

Other titles by Carole Gerson