Critical Collaborations is the last of three essay collections that has emerged from what co-editor Verduyn describes as “three linked conferences that began in Vancouver in 2005, that continued in Guelph in 2007, and that concluded at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, in 2009. Canadian poets probably won’t discover much about the contemporary writing of poetry in this volume, nor fiction writers about the writing of fiction – though it could result something strangely welcome if they did. The collection is primarily about interdisciplinary methodologies of literary criticism that may be appropriate to current Canadian writing, or at least to current writing associated with the first three nouns of its subtitle.
It is the third and final volume in Smaro Kamboureli’s “Trans.Can.Lit” series that began in early 2005 with the call for papers for a “Trans.Can.Lit” conference at Simon Fraser on a growing “crisis” in the field of Canadian literature. The CFP’s “rationale” for the conference and possible follow-up ones was the belief of the organizers – then principally Kamboureli and Roy Miki – “that Canada has reached now yet another turning point, trying as it is to negotiate its multicultural phase of the last two decades with the pressures of globalization. While the unraveling of the nation's coherence may have resulted in a loss of purpose, this loss is not to be lamented. Instead, we see this turning point as representing a critical moment that invites a complete rethinking of the disciplinary and institutional frameworks within which Canadian literature is produced, disseminated, studied and taught.”
But the papers offered at the conference and published in its selected proceedings, Trans.Can.Lit (2007), showed little agreement about, or even interest in, the “turning point” and “national unravelling” that the CFP had proclaimed. In her introduction to the proceedings, Kamboureli made no reference to either – focussing instead on how Canadian