The Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures (ACQL) is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2019 Gabrielle Roy Prize (English section), which each year honours the best work of Canadian literary criticism written in English, is Jody Mason for Home Feelings: Liberal Citizenship and the Canadian Reading Camp Movement (McGill-Queen’s University Press). The winner was chosen by a jury composed of Margery Fee (University of British Columbia), Heidi Tiedemann Darroch (Camosun College), and Veronica Austen (St. Jerome’s University). The Prize is expected to be awarded in person at Congress, next Spring 2021.
Jody Mason’s Home Feelings: Liberal Citizenship and the Canadian Reading Camp Movement distinguishes itself for its tremendous research and critical insight. In constructing an analysis of the Canadian Reading Camp Association, the precursor to Frontier College, Mason offers insight into how reading and literacy were used in a citizenship-building project to form workers as liberal subjects and prevent the radicalization of immigrants. She draws on a range of primary sources – reports, letters, government documents – to construct a meticulously detailed historical account that allows her to form new theoretical insight about the ideological construction and functioning of reading and literacy. Mason is to be particularly commended for the impressive rigour of this book.
The jury would also like to congratulate the two other finalists in this year’s competition (in alphabetical order): Tony Tremblay for The Fiddlehead Moment: Pioneering an Alternative Canadian Modernism in New Brunswick (McGill-Queen’s University Press) and J.A. Weingarten for Sharing the Past: The Reinvention of History in Canadian Poetry since 1960 (University of Toronto Press).
Tony Tremblay’s The Fiddlehead Moment: Pioneering an Alternative Canadian Modernism in New Brunswick offers a careful and detailed assessment of the careers of three key New Brunswick writers, Alfred Bailey, Desmond Pacey, and Fred Cogswell. Through a wide-ranging examination of why modernism took the form it did in New Brunswick, Tremblay constructs an impressively detailed history of the Fiddlehead School of modernism. In doing so, Tremblay offers a compelling refashioning of Canadian literary modernism that considers the traditionally neglected role New Brunswick plays in broader national currents of literary modernism. Through this impressive work, our sense of Canadian literary modernism is expanded.
J.A. Weingarten’s Sharing the Past: The Reinvention of History in Canadian Poetry since 1960 astutely examines lyric poetry to expand our view of post-1960 Canadian literature’s engagement with history-making. Noting an overemphasis on postmodernist novels, and subsequently a tendency to view history-making in Canadian literature through the lens of historiographic metafiction, Weingarten pushes the discourse to consider how such writers as Al Purdy, John Newlove, Lorna Crozier, Barry McKinnon, Andrew Suknaski, Margaret Atwood, and Joan Crate move beyond the usual postmodern undermining of knowable truth to investigate local, social, and familial histories. Sharing the Past demonstrates extremely thorough research, and Weingarten’s ability to weave together discussions of the numerous writers and their work creates a wonderfully engaging reading experience.
For more information:
Chair of the Jury (Anglophone Section), ACQL/ALCQ