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  • In Memoriam:Edward Dickinson Blodgett (1935-2018)
  • Irene Sywenky

It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Edward Dickinson (Ted) Blodgett on November 15, 2018. An internationally known scholar of Canadian Literature and Comparative Literature, Associate Editor of the Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée, a brilliant poet and translator, and a talented teacher and mentor, he will be warmly remembered by all who knew him.

Blodgett completed his PhD in Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. In 1966 he joined the University of Alberta, where he became Assistant Professor of English and Romance Languages. Blodgett was one of the key academics who contributed to establishing the discipline of Comparative Literature at Alberta. Over his long career, he was a scholar and teacher of anglophone and francophone Canadian literature, comparative literature, ethnic minority writing, literary history, medieval literature, and lyric poetry. In 1986, Blodgett was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. During his years at Alberta, his outstanding service was recognized by a McCalla Professorship, the Henry Kreisel Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Kaplan Award for Excellence in Research. Blodgett was a visiting professor at the Université de Sherbrooke, the Catholic University of Leuven, the Free University of Berlin, Saarland University, and the University of Vienna. For a number of years, he served on the Executive of the Canadian Comparative Literature Association/Association Canadienne de Littérature Comparée. In 1994, he was appointed University Professor in recognition of his contribution to Comparative Literature at Alberta and in Canada, and in 2000, he retired as Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature. Following his retirement he also held the Louis Desrochers Chair in Études canadiennes, Campus Saint-Jean, University of Alberta, from 2008 to 2010. Blodgett's contributions to literary theory, literary history, and [End Page 529] comparative Canadian literature, including such books as Configurations: Essays in the Canadian Literatures (ECW Press, 1982), Five-Part Invention: A History of Literary History in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2003), and Les Enfants des Jésuites ou le sacrifice des vierges (Les Presses de l'Université Laval, 2013), are known internationally.

Blodgett will also be remembered for his inspiring and moving poetry. In 1996, he won the Governor General's Award for Poetry for his collection Apostrophes: Woman at a Piano, followed in 1998 by a Governor-General's Translation Award for Transfiguration (with Jacques Brault). He also received many honours from the Writers Guild of Alberta and the Canadian Authors Association. Blodgett did poetry readings across North America, Europe, Israel, Palestine, India, and China, and his poetry has been translated into Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Czech, Polish, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Croatian, Farsi, and Indigenous languages. He was Edmonton's Poet Laureate from 2007 to 2009 and was named to Edmonton's Arts and Culture Hall of Fame in 2011. Blodgett remained a prolific poet and translator in his retirement, with the following among the collections published in the last years of his life: Phrases (Éditions du Noroît, 2012), As If (University of Alberta Press, 2014), Speak Only of the Moon, translation of Rumi's poetry with Manijeh Mannani (Afshar Publishing, 2014), and the bilingual poetry collection Horizons (Éditions du Blé, 2016).

Blodgett was part of the CRCL/RCLC editorial team for many decades. In his role as Associate Editor from 1974, he contributed to the journal's intellectual direction and to the field of Canadian comparative literary studies. His articles for the journal discussed Canadian literary figures such as Hugh MacLennan, Laure Conan, and Sheila Watson, and his later contributions include "Towards an Ethnic Style" (1995) and "Comparative Literature in Canada: A Case Study" (2013). He was also on several editorial and advisory boards, including Studies in Canadian Literature; Nouvelles études québécoises, a monograph series published by Fides, Montréal; and In-Between: Essays and Studies in Literary Criticism, University of Delhi. Ted Blodgett will be remembered for his remarkable career, energy, dedication to the profession and community, and enduring contributions to the discipline of Comparative Literature. [End Page 530]

Irene Sywenky
University of Alberta on behalf of the CRCL/RCLC editorial group


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