Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Canadian Women in Print, 1750-1918

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Canadian Women in Print, 1750-1918

Article excerpt

Carole Gerson, Canadian Women in Print, 1750?1918 (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2010), 300 pp. Cased. £56.99. ISBN 978-1-55458-220-4.

Ambitious in scope, Carole Gerson's Canadian Women in Print surveys over 150 years of Canadian literary history in order to successfully map the contexts within which many of Canada's female authors wrote. In a process Gerson herself refers to as 'collage,' her study 'arranges many separate snapshots of specific individuals and scenes of writing in order to present larger composite stories' (p. xiii). In her introduction, Gerson argues against the tendency for Canadian literary criticism to be 'overdetermined by nationalism', stating that during an era of intense immigration, emigration, and an abundance of overseas publishing, it is essential to 'situate the national in relation to the international' (p. xii). It is also important to note that despite an acknowledged tendency to focus on works written in English, Gerson still manages to show an awareness of the development of print culture among Francophone women, and at several points she compellingly highlights key figures and moments where these women were able to pioneer ahead or, conversely, languished behind their English-speaking counterparts.

Beginning with an examination of the ways women were actively involved in fostering and controlling access to print through work in the print trade and the establishment of public reading rooms, the study then moves on to discuss the importance of the periodical (especially those run by women) in helping construct an early literary culture. An interrogation of the female author's self-representation in early Canadian prefaces allows Gerson to explore a trend of 'affected modesty' that enabled these writers to invoke 'moral and national imperatives' (p. …

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