CFP: Crossover Texts (conference panel; deadline 1 November 2015)

The Fall 2015 newsletter of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE) includes my member-organized panel on Crossover Texts, which I proposed for the 2016 conference that will take place on 28–31 May 2016, during the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences held at the University of Calgary. Proposals and inquiries are warmly welcomed! The deadline for submissions is 1 November 2015.

Crossover Texts
Organizer: Benjamin Lefebvre (Ryerson University)

The term “crossover fiction” refers usually to texts that cross the boundary between children’s literature and adult literature, in terms of target readership and genre. While there are countless examples of texts that were published for one group but embraced by readers of all ages, the term can also be applied to texts that require some form of textual transformation and texts that fit imperfectly within textual categories.

For this panel, I invite proposals for papers that consider crossover texts of any kind and by authors of any cultural group, including the following:

  • Adaptations or reworkings across media (including oral storytelling, commodities, and tourism) or within one medium;
  • Adaptations across genres and readerships, such as YA novels made into films for a general audience;
  • Transmedia storytelling and questions of authorship, ownership, and branding;
  • New and/or transnational editions, including attempts to revise problematic older texts and to redesign books from one genre to fit within another;
  • Versions across authors’ careers, including shifts from periodical to book publication and authors’ revisitations of their own work;
  • Movements from “high” (literary) genres to “low” genres (fantasy, romance, detective) and formats (comics and graphic novels);
  • Texts by minoritized authors that cross over from niche publishing to mainstream success;
  • Rewrites across cultures, national boundaries, and age-based readership categories, including revisionist texts, mash-ups, and parodies.

Please send the following to the panel organizer at benjamin.lefebvre@ryerson.ca by 1 November 2015: a file containing a 300- to 500-word paper proposal, with no identifying marks of any kind; a file containing a 100-word abstract and a 50-word biographical statement; the 2016 Proposal Information Sheet available on the ACCUTE website. You must be an ACCUTE member in good standing to apply for a member-organized session.

The Forest of Bourg-Marie and The Flying Years Now Available

I’m pleased to announce the publication of the fifth and sixth volumes in the Early Canadian Literature series published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press: S. Frances Harrison’s The Forest of Bourg-Marie (1898), with an afterword by Cynthia Sugars (University of Ottawa), and Frederick Niven’s The Flying Years (1936), with an afterword by Alison Calder (University of Manitoba).

Cover art for Early Canadian Literature edition of The Forest of Bourg-Marie, by S. Frances HarrisonIn The Forest of Bourg-Marie, originally published in 1898, Toronto author and musician S. Frances Harrison draws together a highly mythologized image of Quebec society and the forms of Gothic literature that were already familiar to her English-speaking audience. It tells the story of a fourteen-year-old French Canadian who is lured to the United States by the promise of financial reward, only to be rejected by his grandfather upon his return. In doing so, the novel offers a powerful critique of the personal and cultural consequences of emigration out of Canada.

In her afterword, Cynthia Sugars considers how The Forest of Bourg-Marie reimagines the Gothic tradition from a settler Canadian perspective, turning to a French-Canadian setting with distinctly New-World overtones. Harrison’s twist on the traditional Gothic plotline offers an inversion of such Gothic motifs as the decadent aristocrat and ancestral curse by playing on questions of illegitimacy and cultural preservation.

Cover art for Early Canadian Literature edition of The Flying Years, by Frederick NivenOriginally published in 1935, Frederick Niven’s The Flying Years tells the history of Western Canada from the 1850s to the 1920s as witnessed by Angus Munro, a young Scot forced to emigrate to Canada when his family is evicted from their farm. Working in the isolated setting of Rocky Mountain House, Angus secretly marries a Cree woman, who dies in a measles epidemic while he is on an extended business trip. The discovery, fourteen years later, that his wife had given birth to a boy who was adopted by another Cree family and raised to be “all Indian” confirms Angus’s sympathies toward Aboriginal peoples, and he eventually becomes the Indian Agent on the reserve where his secret son lives. Angus’s ongoing negotiation of both the literal and symbolic roles of “White Father” takes place within the context of questions about race and nation, assimilation and difference, and the future of the Canadian West. Against a background of resource exploitation and western development, the novel queries the place of Aboriginal peoples in this new nation and suggests that progress brings with it a cost.

Alison Calder’s afterword examines the novel’s depiction of the paternalistic relationship between the Canadian government and Aboriginal peoples in Western Canada, and situates the novel in terms of contemporary discussions about race and biology.

These books can be purchased either in print or in epub format directly from the publisher or from your favourite bookseller.

Gilbert Parker’s The Seats of the Mighty Now Available from WLUP

Cover art for Early Canadian Literature edition of The Seats of the Mighty, by Gilbert ParkerI’m pleased to announce the publication of Gilbert Parker’s The Seats of the Mighty, the fourth volume in the Early Canadian Literature series published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. The edition contains the complete text of the original 1896 edition, Parker’s introduction to the “Imperial Edition” of the novel, published in 1913, and a new afterword by Andrea Cabajsky, who is also part of the series’ advisory board. The book can be purchased either in print or in epub format directly from the publisher or from your favourite bookseller.

From the pen of Gilbert Parker comes one of the most popular Canadian novels of the late nineteenth century. First published simultaneously in Canada and the United States in 1896, The Seats of the Mighty is set in Quebec City in 1759, against the backdrop of the conflict between the English and the French over the future of New France. Written and published after Parker’s move to England, the novel attempts to romanticize French Canada without alienating his English and American readership. The novel’s enduring popularity led to a stage version in 1897 and a silent film in 1914.

The next two volumes in the series, S. Frances Harrison’s The Forest of Bourg-Marie and Frederick Niven’s The Flying Years, are scheduled to be published in June 2015.

L.M. Montgomery Reader Cover Montage

My friend Melanie Fishbane, upon receiving her copy of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review last week, took a couple of photos of the three volumes on her shelf, edited them through some sort of Photoshop/Instagram rinse, and then posted them on Facebook. The arrangement looked so neat that I asked her permission to repost it, which she graciously gave. Thanks, Mel!

Montage of Covers of The L.M. Montgomery Reader

TPL Event on L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on War

I will be speaking at an event called The  Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on War at the North York Central Library concourse next Tuesday evening, 27 January 2015. I’ll be talking about the responses Montgomery’s books published or set during the First World War received by reviewers (an aspect of Montgomery’s career that is covered in The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review) alongside Laura M. Robinson and Melanie J. Fishbane. Here is a poster with all the details. Hope to see you there!

Flyer for The Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on War

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volumes 1–3

I’m pleased to report that I received my first author’s copy, a few days ago, of my seventh book, The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review, published by University of Toronto Press. The book contains the full text of 370 reviews, from periodicals in eight countries, of Montgomery’s twenty-four books published throughout her lifetime, as well a comprehensive discussion of how these reviews fit within the larger context of the ways her books were marketed to readers during the first half of the twentieth century, as well as a comprehensive account of the reception of twenty-four additional Montgomery books published posthumously between 1960 and 2013. Since late November, I’ve been posting snippets of these reviews, as well as scans of ads that don’t appear in the book, on the L.M. Montgomery Online website.

I’m so happy with how this final volume, like the two that preceded it, turned out, and although it’s rather bittersweet for such a big project to come to an end finally after several years of work, it also gives me a chance to ponder what it is I’d like to work on next.

The book can be ordered directly from the publisher as either a jacketed hardcover or as an ebook, and it should start to be available through bookstores in the coming weeks.

Updating my web page for that volume also prompted me to update the pages for all my previous books: The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1: A Life in Print and Volume 2: A Critical Heritage; the collections of essays Textual Transformations in Children’s Literature (which recently came out in paperback) and Anne’s World: A New Century of Anne of Green Gables; the restored and annotated edition of L.M. Montgomery’s Great War novel, Rilla of Ingleside; and the edition of Montgomery’s long-lost final novel, The Blythes Are Quoted.

Second and Third Volumes in Early Canadian Literature Series

I’m pleased to announce the publication of the second and third volumes of the Early Canadian Literature series published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press: an edition of Nellie L. McClung’s 1925 novel Painted Fires, with an afterword by Cecily Devereux, and an edition of George Copway’s 1850 book The Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibway Nation, with an afterword by Shelley Hulan. Both can be purchased either in print or in epub format directly from the publisher or from your favourite bookseller.

Cover art for Early Canadian Literature edition of Painted Fires, by Nellie L. McClungPainted Fires, first published in 1925, narrates the trials and tribulations of Helmi Milander, a Finnish immigrant, during the years approaching the First World War. The novel serves as a vehicle for McClung’s social activism, especially in terms of temperance, woman suffrage, and immigration policies that favour cultural assimilation. In her afterword, Cecily Devereux situates Painted Fires in the context of McClung’s feminist fiction and her interest in contemporary questions of immigration and “naturalization.” She also considers how McClung’s representation of Helmi Milander’s story draws on popular culture narratives.

Cover art for Early Canadian Literature edition of The Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibway Nation, by George CopwayThe Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibway Nation (1850) was one of the first books of Indigenous history written by an Indigenous author. The book blends nature writing and narrative to describe the language, religious beliefs, stories, land, work, and play of the Ojibway people. Shelley Hulan’s afterword considers Copway’s rhetorical strategies in framing a narrative as a form of “history, interrupted” for a non-Indigenous readership.

Back on the Island

Ben and AnneI’m pleased to be back on Prince Edward Island for L.M. Montgomery and War, the 11th biennial conference hosted by the L.M. Montgomery Institute and held at the University of Prince Edward Island (an event that I am co-chairing). I’m also pleased because I have finally launched L.M. Montgomery Online, the new-and-improved version of the L.M. Montgomery Research Group website that I started in 2007! I’ve been travelling to the Island for these conferences since 1996, so in a way it feels a lot like coming home. Especially when there’s always an old friend (albeit a two-dimensional one) there to greet you at the airport!

Profile in the Charlottetown Guardian

Benjamin Lefebvre's L.M. Montgomery Collection

A profile of me by Sally Cole appeared in yesterday’s Charlottetown Guardian, in which I discuss my longstanding interest in L.M. Montgomery’s work generally and the first two volumes of The L.M. Montgomery Reader in particular. It also includes this photograph of me taken in front of part of my Montgomery collection in my home office. (When I look up from my laptop, this is what I see in front of me.)

UPDATE: Apparently the Guardian has also called me “Montgomery guy.” That’s fine, of course, although I personally prefer “Man of Green Gables.”