Alberta writing has a long tradition. Beginning with the pictographs of Writing-on-Stone, followed by Euro-Canadian exploration texts, the post-treaty writing of the agrarian colonization period, and into the present era, Alberta writing has come to be seen as a distinct literature. In this volume Melnyk and Coates continue the project of scholarly analysis of Alberta literature that they began with Wild Words: Essays on Alberta Literature (2009). They argue that the essays in their new book confirm that Alberta's literary identity is historically contingent with a diverse, changing content, that makes its definition a work-in-progress. The essays in this volume provide contemporary perspectives on major figures in poetry and fiction, such as Robert Kroetsch, Sheila Watson, Alice Major, and Fred Stenson. Other essays bring to light relatively unknown figures such as the Serbian Canadian writer David Albahari and the pioneer clergyman Nestor Dmytrow.
Writing Alberta: Building on a Literary Identity offers a detailed discussion of contemporary Indigenous writers, an overview of Alberta historiography of the past century, and the fascinating autobiographical reflections of the novelist Katherine Govier on her literary career and its Alberta influences. This collection demonstrates that Alberta writers, especially in the contemporary period, are not afraid to uncover, re-think, and re-imagine parts of Alberta history, thereby exposing what had been lain to rest as an unfinished business needing serious re-consideration.
George Melnyk is professor emeritus of Communication, Media, and Film at the University of Calgary. He is the author and editor of over two dozen books in Canadian Studies, including the two-volume The Literary History of Alberta (1998-99). He is also co-editor with Tamara Palmer Seiler of The Wild Rose Anthology of Alberta Prose (2003) and co-editor with Donna Coates of Wild Words: Essays on Alberta Literature (2009). His most recent title is First Person Plural (2015), a collection of his essays on the self and its image. He is currently preparing the second volume in the trilogy.
Donna Coates teaches in the English Department at the University of Calgary. She has published dozens of articles and book chapters on Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and American women's responses to the First and Second World Wars, the Vietnam War, and contemporary warfare in fiction and drama. With Sherrill Grace, she has selected and edited Canada and the Theatre of War, Volume One (2008) and Volume Two (2010). With George Melnyk, she edited Wild Words: Essays on Alberta Writing (2007). She has also edited Sharon Pollock: First Woman of Canadian Theatre, published in 2015 with the University of Calgary Press. She is currently completing a book on Australian women's war fictions and editing an eight-volume collection on women and war for the History of Feminism series published by Routledge.
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