Journals in the Faculty of Arts awarded over $300,000 in funding

An innovative journal published by the Comparative Literature program in the Faculty of Arts will soon become more accessible to readers around the world, thanks to a prestigious grant from the Social

3 December 2008

An innovative journal published by the Comparative Literature program in the Faculty of Arts will soon become more accessible to readers around the world, thanks to a prestigious grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

The Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée (CRCL) was recently awarded a major grant through SSHRC's Aid to Scholarly Journals program, which is designed to give support to programs when trying to attract the highest calibre of research and cultivate a wider readership. The CRCL was one of six academic journals in the Faculty of Arts to receive a grant from the program this year.

Jonathan Hart, Director of the Comparative Literature program at the U of A and Editor-in-Chief of the CRCL, is excited about the $81,000 grant and what it will mean for the journal. Already internationally renowned for its innovative bilingual and interdisciplinary approach to comparative literature, Hart says that much of the grant will be put toward making the journal more accessible to scholars and the general public alike.

Currently, issues of the journal from its inception in 1974 to 2000 are freely available to read online, but the grant will allow journal staff to make newer issues available as well. The current online presence is the result of a 2005 SSHRC Research Cluster Grant that enabled the development of Sophia, a virtual portal for comparative studies of culture and literature that gave free access to the older issues of the CRCL.

Hart considers open access to the journal essential since the entire discipline is centered on the idea of appreciating and including literature and voices from a wide variety of cultures. "I think comparative literature itself - the discipline and the journal - are in a sense reaching out to the community," he said.

That same spirit of community involvement carries over into the management and administration of the journal. Though he is often the public face of the CRCL at meetings and conferences, Hart is modest about his contribution, and is quick to point out the effort of everyone involved in making the journal a success. "It's really a team, and it always has been," he emphasized.

Hart credits the journal's founder and former faculty member in the Comparative Literature program, the late Professor Milan Dimic, with developing the team atmosphere - something Hart has tried to maintain since taking over as Editor-in-Chief in 1998.

One of the most important aspects of that team is the mentorship of graduate students, who play vital roles in the development of each issue, when they learn the ropes as assistant editors, research assistants, and even more technical positions like typesetters. According to Hart, the inclusion of graduate students in the publication is imperative, particularly since he wants to impart the same sort of mentoring that he received from Dimic and others.

This inclusiveness is also evident in the submissions the journal chooses to publish. When Dimic founded the CRCL in 1974, he made a point to accept and publish submissions from scholars all over the world - a legacy that Hart has continued and expanded. Further, since the mission of the journal is to study literature in a global context, the team will occasionally accept submissions in other languages besides Canada's official ones, such as Russian and Spanish.

Given the international nature and stature of the journal, Hart believes that it also acts as a worldwide ambassador for the Comparative Literature program, the Faculty of Arts and the U of A, citing, for example, a conference held last spring at the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, which was centered entirely around one of the journal's special issues.

In addition to making the journal more accessible, Hart also plans to use the grant to help with staffing and production costs of some of the journal's more recent creative projects. One of Hart's latest innovations, for example, has been to include art from U of A Art & Design students on the cover of each issue.

"My view is, don't do a job unless you do something creative in it," Hart said. "All of us at the journal, in anything we do, we're trying to make it better."

A Complete list of this year's SSHRC funded journals in the Faculty of Arts:

Canadian Historical Review
Editor: Sarah Carter (History & Classics)

Canadian Journal of Sociology
Editor: Kevin Haggerty (Sociology)

Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée
Editor: Jonathan Hart (Comparative Literature)

Canadian Slavonic Papers
Editor: Oleh S. Ilnytzkyj (Modern Languages & Cultural Studies)

ESC: English Studies in Canada
Editor: Michael O'Driscoll (English & Film Studies)

Canadian Studies in Population
Editor: Frank Trovato (Sociology)

Canadian Journal of Irish Studies / Revue canadienne d'études irlandaises
Editor: Gerald White (English & Film Studies)

Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies
Editor: Raleigh Whitinger (Modern Languages & Cultural Studies)

Related Links:

Sophia: The Virtual Institute of Comparative Studies of Culture and Literature