ENGL 465 A1: #metoo and Canadian Literature

J. Rak

In November 2016, a controversy within CanLit (the short form for Canadian Literature) erupted about the firing the former Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia (UBC). As writers, academics, students and other members of the public squared off across the country and debated the extent of sexual harassment within the CanLit industry, the American #metoo movement, inspired by the activism of Tarana Burke, gathered momentum in Canada and raised questions about sexual harassment in the arts and entertainment industries. The controversy at UBC is not isolated: it has deep roots and a long history in the Canadian literature industry, as persistent problems connected to neocolonialism, sexism, racism and transphobia surfaced (or became more publicly obvious to more people).

We will read key texts about institutional racism, sexism and other forms of injustice alongside literary works by Canadian and Indigenous authors to think through the cyclical nature of institutional literary violence in Canada, and the possibility of a different literary field, in light of the recent controversies and the old problems they highlight.

Suggested Texts

Sara Ahmed, Willful Subjects

Tarana Burke, Where the Light Enters: the Founding of the #metoo Movement

Hannah McGregor, Julie Rak, Erin Wunker, eds, Refuse: CanLit in Ruins

Zoe Whitall, The Best Kind of People

Katherina Vermette, The Break

Amber Dawn and Justin Ducharme, Hustling Verse: an Anthology of Sex Workers' Poetry

Alicia Elliott, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground