The 1980s are remembered as a time of extraordinary activity in the feminist literary communities of Canada. This project focuses on the stories of Canadian women writers who came together in the early 1980s to work on a collaborative endeavor, such as founding a publishing house, a literary magazine, a theatre troupe, or a publication series. Indeed, the title of this project is indebted to one of the watershed feminist collaborations of the time: the 1983 Women and Words conference. We are especially interested in how these collectives narrate their own feminist beginnings and in the trajectories of their feminist work over subsequent decades. Grounded in archival work and close readings of texts generated by the collectives, this project constitutes a contemporary history of Canadian women’s writing that connects literary production and literary-critical work with the redefinition of the feminist movement occurring during this crucial time period.
The first phase of this project focuses on the activities of the Feminist Caucus of the League of Canadian Poets. Founded in 1982, the Feminist Caucus has published 24 chapbooks and two anthologies based on the discussions and readings at their Caucus meetings. Our project hopes to digitally archive texts such as these, thereby opening them up to wider readership and rendering them accessible to digital humanities research tools. Ultimately, the digital component of this project would make use of timeline and mapping tools to deepen our understanding of the breadth of feminist collaborative cultural work in contemporary Canada.
Researcher: Andrea Beverley (Mount Allison University)