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Unarrested Archives

Case Studies in Twentieth-Century Canadian Women's Authorship

by (author) Linda M. Morra

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Initial publish date
Jan 2015
General, Gender Studies, General, Canadian, General, Canadian
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2015
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2014
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2014
    List Price

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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. 

About the author

Linda M. Morra, an associate professor at Bishopâ??s University, specializes in Canadian literature and Canadian studies. Her research focuses on women and the publishing industry in Canada. Her publications include Corresponding Influence: Selected Letters of Emily Carr and Ira Dilworth (2006), [ Troubling Tricksters: Revisioning Critical Conversations (co-editor with Deanna Reder, WLU Press, 2010), and an edition of Jane Ruleâ??s autobiography, Taking My Life (2011).

Jessica Schagerlâ??s research focuses on Canadian studies, drawing heavily on archival material; she is also invested in questions of professional concern, including mentoring and the futures of arts and humanities. She is the alumni and development officer for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Western Ontario.

Linda M. Morra's profile page


  • Short-listed, The Gabrielle Roy Prize awarded by the Association for Canadian and Québec Literatures

Editorial Reviews

‘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.’

English Studies in Canada vol 41:04:2015

‘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.’

BC Studies February 2016

‘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.’

Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature vol 35:01:2016

‘This minutely researched and thoroughly engaging study expands scholarly understanding of how literary archives are shaped by national institutions.’

British Journal of Canadian Studies vol 29:02:2016

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