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Unarrested Archives: Case Studies in Twentieth-Century Canadian Women's Authorship

Unarrested Archives: Case Studies in Twentieth-Century Canadian Women's Authorship

by Linda M. Morra

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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. 

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442617742
Publisher: University of Toronto Press
Publication date: 01/15/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Linda M. Morra is an associate professor in the Department of English at Bishop’s University and the current president of the Quebec Writers’ Federation. She edited the collected letters of Emily Carr and Ira Dilworth published with the University of Toronto Press (2006), and edited and annotated Jane Rule’s Taking my Life (2011).

Table of Contents


1. The Archive of Embodiment: Pauline Johnson’s “ A Cry from an Indian Wife”

2. Her “Eye” Was Her “I”: Emily Carr, Autobiography, and the Archive of Kinship

3. “It’s What You [Don’t] Say”: Sheila Watson, the Imminent Narrative, and the Archive of Displacement

4. Jane Rule and the Archive of Activism: Negotiating Imaginative – and Literal – Space for a Nation

5. The Minor Archive: M. NourbeSe Philip and Mediations of Race and Gender in Canada


What People are Saying About This

Kate Eichhorn

“Linda Morra’s Unarrested Archives reminds us that the arrival of a writer’s fonds in an archive marks the inauguration of another public life – one structured by the legal and political complex of the archive itself. Theoretically sophisticated and meticulously researched, the case studies that compose Morra’s study trace how five Canadian women writers and their works have been reinvented, appropriated, and at times eclipsed by the national, institutional, and private archives where their collections are housed. A notable contribution to theorizing on Canadian literature, women’s writing, and archives, this book will be of interest to scholars, archivists, and anyone with an interest in the legal and political terrain of contemporary archives.”

Dean Irvine

“This isn’t just a book of exhaustively researched case studies about women, archives, and CanLit; it represents a vital and compelling response to the transformation of archival studies that is presently taking place across multiple disciplines.”

Carole Gerson

The Unarrested Archive contains five excellent studies of Canadian women writers and their personal and literary archives. This book will make an important contribution to Canadian literary and cultural studies.”

Customer Reviews