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Reviewed by:
  • Making Canada New: Editing, Modernism, and New Media ed. by Dean Irvine, Vanessa Lent, and Bart A. Vautour
  • Elizabeth Popham (bio)
Dean Irvine, Vanessa Lent, and Bart A. Vautour, eds. Making Canada New: Editing, Modernism, and New Media. University of Toronto Press. vii, 406. $87.00

This collection of fifteen papers originated with the University of Toronto's forty-sixth Conference on Editorial Problems in 2010, which was cosponsored by Editing Modernism in Canada / Édition du modernisme au Canada (EMiC). In 2008, EMiC received funding through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Strategic Knowledge Cluster grant for a radical initiative in the renovation of the canon of Canadian literature by producing scholarly editions of Canadian modernist writers, and the majority of papers delivered at the conference (and published here) took the form of prospectuses for evolving editorial projects. Because of the significant time lag between this conference and publication, many have come to fruition in the form of print and digital publication, while others are well underway. However, rather than make the collection obsolete, this means that we are now in a position to set the authors' projections beside their embodied projects. The coincidence lends credence to the editors' call to action and demonstrates what can be achieved when resources are made available for [End Page 110] training and project support. Over the past decade, editing practice in Canada has become more sophisticated, considerable strides have been made in the development of digital interfaces for editorial and archival projects, and many more texts are available in scholarly editions, providing the groundwork for the critical reassessment of literary modernism in Canada and its place in the international context. However, as the editors point out in their introduction, success tends to create its own difficulties, as the profession has yet to agree on how to assess and recognize the "trans-disciplinary" work of ongoing collaborative editorial and digital projects, much of which is done by junior scholars attempting to establish themselves in the profession.

The introduction to Making Canada New provides a succinct survey of the theory and practice of editing Canadian modernist writers to date, the groundbreaking "complete works" projects that have demonstrated the vital importance of both critical editions and genetic and social text editing to the reassessment of literary modernism in Canada, early experiments in the digital analysis of texts, and the potential of digital media to complement traditional print publication. The book has been divided into three sections of five chapters each – "Libraries, Archives, Databases, Editions," "Collaborations," and "Selective Traditions and Alternative Modernisms" – but the divisions are porous, and recurring themes are returned to in varying contexts: the intersection of archive and edition; the need to resist hierarchical organization, whether in archival finding aids or book and interface design; modernist stylistics; strategies of annotation; the reassessment of the canon of Canadian modernism; and the analogy between today's "new" media and the exploitation of "new" technologies by the early twentieth-century avant-garde. It is also repeatedly made clear that the concern with "making it new" encompasses the "remediation" of modernist texts through both critical and scholarly print editions and editions for the classroom and the general reader as well as digital editions and print/digital hybrids.

Topics range from digital emulation of the ergodic qualities of modernist journals (Sean Latham) to the correction of the distorting prejudices of archival finding aids (Marc André Fortin) and scholarly editions (Tanya E. Clement); from the personal library of F.R. Scott (J.A. Weingarten) to the unpublished writing of Gabrielle Roy (Sophie Marcotte) and Malcolm Lowry (Patrick A. McCarthy and Chris Ackerley); from the eccentric syntax of Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven's autobiographical manifesto to the dramatic language of literary and political manifestos (Andrea Hasenbank and EMiC University of Alberta [UA]) and the self-conscious modernism of the long-ignored early novels of Hugh MacLennan (Colin Hill); from the effective censorship of Sol Allen's novel They Have Bodies (Gregory Betts) to the reception of Caroll Aikins's problematic performance text The God of Gods (Kailin Wright); from suggestions for inclusion in the canon to documentation of erasure (Tony Tremblay) and strategies for organizing complete works...


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pp. 110-112
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