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Canadian Women in Print, 17501918 by Carole Gerson

Canadian Women in Print, 17501918


Canadian Women in Print, 17501918 by Carole Gerson

Canadian Women in Print, 1750--1918 is the first historical examination of women's engagement with multiple aspects of print over some two hundred years, from the settlers who wrote diaries and letters to the New Women who argued for ballots and equal rights. Considering women's published writing as an intervention in the public sphere of national and material print culture, this book uses approaches from book history to address the working and living conditions of women who wrote in many genres and for many reasons. This study situates English Canadian authors within an extensive framework that includes francophone writers as well as women's work as compositors, bookbinders, and interveners in public access to print. Literary authorship is shown to be one point on a spectrum that ranges from missionary writing, temperance advocacy, and educational texts to journalism and travel accounts by New Woman adventurers. Familiar figures such as Susanna Moodie, L.M. Montgomery, Nellie McClung, Pauline Johnson, and Sara Jeannette Duncan are contextualized by writers whose names are less well known (such as Madge Macbeth and Agnes Laut) and by many others whose writings and biographies have vanished into the recesses of history. Readers will learn of the surprising range of writing and publishing performed by early Canadian women under various ideological, biographical, and cultural motivations and circumstances. Some expressed reluctance while others eagerly sought literary careers. Together they did much more to shape Canada's cultural history than has heretofore been recognized.


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.... While admitting her study is 'implicitly progressive and celebratory', Gerson states the differing ways of approaching women's cultural production in this period 'by focusing on the repression of women under patriarchy, or by focusing on how women created their own agency within the private and public spheres available to them

. xi). I would suggest that Gerson manages this divide well, refusing to fall into the trap of overemphasizing the already well-established historical marginalisation of these writers, while similarly avoiding a tendency to overdetermine the way in which these authors are subversive or pioneering. Gerson convincingly charts a female print tradition beginning back in the eighteenth century that should be of great value to anyone studying Early Canadian women writers, or the development of Canadian print culture more generally.''--Sarah Galletly British Journal of Canadian Studies, Volume 24, #2, 2011

About the Author

Born in Montreal, Carole Gerson is a professor in the English Department at Simon Fraser University. Her research on Canadian literary and publishing history and on early Canadian women writers has resulted in many publications, including two books on Pauline Johnson. She was a member of the editorial team for the major three-volume project History of the Book in Canada, for which she co-edited volume 3, covering the period 19181980.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st May 2011


Carole Gerson

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Wilfrid Laurier University Press


300 pages


Literature: history & criticism



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