Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace: Explorations in Canadian Women's Archives

Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace: Explorations in Canadian Women's Archives


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Women's letters and memoirs were until recently considered to have little historical significance. Many of these materials have disappeared or remain unarchived, often dismissed as ephemera and relegated to basements, attics, closets, and, increasingly, cyberspace rather than public institutions. This collection showcases the range of critical debates that animate thinking about women's archives in Canada.

The essays in Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace consider a series of central questions: What are the challenges that affect archival work about women in Canada today? What are some of the ethical dilemmas that arise over the course of archival research? How do researchers read and make sense of the materials available to them? How does one approach the shifting, unstable forms of new technologies? What principles inform the decisions not only to research the lives of women but to create archival deposits? The contributors focus on how a supple research process might allow for greater engagement with unique archival forms and critical absences in narratives of past and present.

From questions of acquisition, deposition, and preservation to challenges related to the interpretation of material, the contributors track at various stages how fonds are created (or sidestepped) in response to national and other imperatives and to feminist commitments; how archival material is organized, restricted, accessed, and interpreted; how alternative and immediate archives might be conceived and approached; and how exchanges might be read when there are peculiar lacunae—missing or fragmented documents, or gaps in communication—that then require imaginative leaps on the part of the researcher.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781771123280
Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Publication date: 06/15/2018
Series: Life Writing , #46
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 348
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Linda M. Morra is a settler scholar and Full Professor at Bishop's University, and a former Craig Dobbin Chair (2016—2017). Her book Unarrested Archives, was a finalist for the Gabrielle Roy Prize in 2015. She prepared Jane Rule's posthumously published memoir, Taking My Life, which was a Lambda Literary Award finalist in 2011.

Jessica Schagerl'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.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents for
Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace: Explorations in Women's Archives, edited by Linda M. Morra and Jessica Schagerl

Introduction: No Archive is Neutral | Linda M. Morra and Jessica Schagerl

I. Reorientations

Of Mini-Ships and Archives | Daphne Marlatt

Finding Indian Maidens on eBay: Tales of the Alternative Archive (and More Tales of White Commodity Culture) | Cecily Devereux

“Faster Than a Speeding Thought”: Lemon Hound's Archive Unleashed | Karis Shearer and Jessica Schagerl

“I remember...I was wearing leather pants”: Archiving the Repertoire of Feminist Cabaret in Canada | T.L. Cowan

“In the hope of making a connection”: (Re)Reading Archival Bodies, Responses, and Love in Marian Engel's Bear and Alice Munro's “Meneseteung” | Catherine Bates

An Archive of Complicity: Ethically (Re)Reading the Documentaries of Nelofer Pazira | Hannah McGregor

Psyche and Her Helpers, under Cloud Cover | Penn Kemp

II. Restrictions

Archival Matters | Sally Clark

Keeping the Archive Door Open: Writing about Florence Carlyle | Susan Butlin

The Oral, the Archive, and Ethics: Canadian Women Writers Telling It | Andrea Beverley

Halted by the Archive: The Impact of Excessive Archival Restrictions on Scholars | Ruth Panofsky and Michael Moir

Personal Ethics: Being an Archivist of Writers | Catherine Hobbs

Invisibility Exhibit: The Limits of Library and Archives Canada's “Multicultural Mandate” | Karina Vernon

III. Responsibilities

Rat in the Box: Thoughts on Archiving My Stuff | Susan McMaster

Letters to the Woman's Page Editor: Francis Marion Beynon's “The Country Homemakers” and a Public Culture for Women | Katja Thieme

Archival Adventures with L.M. Montgomery; or, “As Long as the Leaves Hold Together” | Vanessa Brown and Benjamin Lefebvre

The Quality of the Carpet: A Consideration of Anecdotes in Researching Women's Lives | Linda M. Morra

“I want my story told”: The Sheila Watson Archive, the Reader, and the Search for Voice | Paul Tiessen

“You can do with all this rambling whatever you want”: Scrutinizing Ethics in the Alzheimer's Archives | Kathleen Venema

Locking Up Letters | Julia Creet

Afterword | Janice Fiamengo



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