Calling upon the archives of Canadian writers E. Pauline Johnson (1861–1913), Emily Carr (1871–1945), Sheila Watson (1909–1998), Jane Rule (1931–2007), and M. NourbeSe Philip (1947– ), Linda M. Morra explores the ways in which women’s archives have been uniquely conceptualized in scholarly discourses and shaped by socio-political forces. She also provides a framework for understanding the creative interventions these women staged to protect their records. Through these case studies, Morra traces the influence of institutions such as national archives and libraries, and regulatory bodies such as border service agencies on the creation, presentation, and preservation of women's archival collections.
The deliberate selection of the five literary case studies allows Morra to examine changing archival practices over time, shifting definitions of nationhood and national literary history, varying treatments of race, gender, and sexual orientation, and the ways in which these forces affected the writers’ reputations and their archives. Morra also productively reflects on Jacques Derrida’s Archive Fever and postmodern feminist scholarship related to the relationship between writing, authority, and identity to showcase the ways in which female writers in Canada have represented themselves and their careers in the public record.
‘Through its range of genres and cultural periods, meticulous scholarship, and respect for the public life of women writers’ documents, Unarrested Archives recalibrates perspectives on what might be uncovered and what must be preserved.’
‘Morra hopes that her book will encourage researchers to think more broadly about archives’ formations, their locations, and the relationships they organize and epitomize. Her case studies provide a sustained engagement with these issues, although each could be read as a fascinating stand-alone piece.’
‘This minutely researched and thoroughly engaging study expands scholarly understanding of how literary archives are shaped by national institutions.’
"Unarrested Archives addresses significant challenges to researchers in studying women authors and to the public in remedying the marginalization of women in creative pursuits and the academy….She has written an accessible and useful work that adds tour understanding of authors, archives, and agency. Unarrested Archives also challenges us to reconsider the boundaries we draw around knowledge and how we create it."
‘An excellent introduction to textual feminism as a materialist practice…. This book will remind readers of why we need feminism in the second decade of the twenty-first century.’