CFP: Ethics in Canadian Literature (11/1/06; journal issue)

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Call for Papers for a Special Issue of the University of Toronto =
Fall 2007: deadline for submission November 1, 2006

The Ethical Turn in Canadian Literature and Criticism

Northrop Frye began his 1963 Massey lectures - entitled The Educated =
Imagination - by asking "What good is the study of literature? Does it =
help us to think more clearly, or feel more sensitively, or live a =
better life.?" Such questions are currently of great concern to many =
literary scholars in the United States, where there has been a =
tremendous surge of interest in, or "turn to," ethics. Writers including =
Wayne Booth, Martha Nussbaum, J. Hillis Miller, and Marjorie Garber, to =
name only a few, have charted the connections among literature, literary =
theory, politics, and moral philosophy that have become increasingly =
apparent over the last twenty years. At the same time, critics have =
identified troubling connections between the legacy of modernist =
humanism and the so-called "turn to ethics." Gauri Viswanathan, for =
example, notes the entanglement of the roots of literary criticism with =
the civilizing mission carried out in England's colonies through the =
supposedly moral influence of "good" English literature. In light of the =
uncertain relationships between humanism, imperialism, and ethics, we =
must ask whether a turn to ethics in Canada would be "good" for anyone. =
Critics of Canadian literature have differed radically in their =
(implicit) answers to this question, to say nothing of authors such as =
Dionne Brand, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, and Michael Redhill, =
who are clearly engaged with the ethical import of the writing itself.

We invite papers on the implications of the turn to ethics for Canadian =
literature and criticism. Specifically, how does contemporary ethical =
criticism affect notions of text and reader, given its concern not only =
with literature and the good, but with the meeting of reader and =
text-as-other (what Lawrence Buell refers to as "a scene of virtual =
interpersonality")? Further, how does the turn to ethics position =
literary criticism in relation to politics? Chantal Mouffe observes in =
the West "the triumph of a sort of moralising liberalism that is =
increasingly filling the void left by the collapse of any project of =
real political transformation." Is the turn to ethics, to borrow =
Mouffe's words, "a retreat from the political"? What are the particular =
ethical valences associated with the literary and critical works of =
First nations, immigrant, postcolonial, women, minority, and queer =
writers in Canada? And finally, why and how are specific ethical =
approaches useful or problematic in the classroom?


Submitted essays should conform to University of Toronto Quarterly House =
style based on The Chicago Manual of Style. Please send two copies of =
completed papers, along with a copy on disk (double spaced, max. 25 =
pages) and a brief professional bio (50 words) by November 1, 2006 to:

Dr. Marlene Goldman and Dr. Kristina Kyser, c/o University of Toronto,=20

334 Larkin Building, 6 Hoskin Avenue, Trinity College, Toronto, ON M5S =

Queries: (416) 978-3055 or

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Received on Tue Feb 14 2006 - 11:10:18 EST