Literary Periodicals in English | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Literary Periodicals in English

In the 19th century, Canada relied mainly on foreign imports for its literary scholarship, and early attempts to provide native periodicals aiming at more than a merely popular standard were generally short-lived.

Literary Periodicals in English

In the 19th century, Canada relied mainly on foreign imports for its literary scholarship, and early attempts to provide native periodicals aiming at more than a merely popular standard were generally short-lived. The most successful and long-lasting journals of this kind were the Canadian Journal (1852-78), the Canadian Monthly and National Review (1872-78, later amalgamated into Rose-Belford's Canadian Monthly and National Review, 1878-82) and The Week (1883-96). The last 2 were fostered by Goldwin SMITH, and Charles G.D. ROBERTS was the first editor of The Week.

The 20th century has seen a fragmentation of the audiences, with university-based journals providing academic, learned articles and glossier magazines catering - often superficially - to a more popular audience. In the middle stands the CANADIAN FORUM, which has appeared regularly since 1920. Describing itself as "an independent journal of opinion and the arts," it is not officially connected with any university but draws upon the academic community, mainly in Toronto, for many of its contributors. Although its origins were primarily political, reflecting (in the words of its opening editorial) "a desire to secure a freer and more informed discussion of public questions" and generally presenting a radical or left-wing viewpoint, it has consistently endeavoured to "trace and value those developments of art and letters which are characteristically Canadian."

The first of Canada's 3 main university journals founded to further humanistic scholarship was QUEEN'S QUARTERLY, which first appeared in 1893. It began with the twofold aim of serving the intellectual needs of Queen's University graduates and "promoting the interests of culture in Canada." Its early emphasis was on religious matters, but it soon became a wide-ranging, respected academic publication. It was joined in 1921 by the DALHOUSIE REVIEW, which claimed in its first issue to be a project "of university extension" discussing "problems of general import" in "a style that can be generally understood." Ten years later, the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY began with similar goals. Offering itself as "a Canadian Journal of the Humanities," it has generally succeeded in providing a forum for academic discourse where Canadian and internationally recognized scholars can appear side by side. All 3 journals have continued to publish and maintain a high standard.

The most remarkable feature of Canadian periodical publishing in recent years has been the rich crop of scholarly journals devoted to discussion of the nation's own literature. The earliest, and still best known, is CANADIAN LITERATURE, a quarterly founded in 1959 at UBC with George WOODCOCK as its first editor. Since then it has published scholarly articles and reviews on works of Canadian origin, often devoting individual issues to topics of special interest and concern. Initially considered by some to be a premature venture, it not only succeeded in creating its own readership, but has, by its very existence as an outlet for Canadian literary studies, helped to nurture the subject to which it is devoted. Without rivals for many years, it was later joined by several journals with similar aims, notably Essays on Canadian Writing (fd 1974, originally with York U) and Studies in Canadian Literature (fd 1976, UNB).

The interdisciplinary Journal of Canadian Studies, a wider-ranging quarterly embracing history and social studies as well as literature, was founded at Trent University in 1966. The flowering of Canadian fiction and poetry in recent years is reflected in the appearance of 2 journals specifically devoted to each genre: CANADIAN FICTION MAGAZINE (1971- ), the Journal of Canadian Fiction (1972- ), Canadian Poetry (1977- ) and the Journal of Canadian Poetry (1978- ). In addition, Canadian Drama has been published at University of Waterloo since 1975 and Theatre History in Canada appeared in 1980.

A number of Canadian LEARNED SOCIETIES publish their own specialized periodicals, eg, the Association of Canadian University Teachers of English, whose English Studies in Canada first appeared in 1975. Of more general interest is the Humanities Association of Canada's Bulletin (1951-73), which was replaced with the more ambitious Humanities Association Review. Not considered here are the numerous journals from THE FIDDLEHEAD (1945- ) in the Maritimes to the Malahat Review (1967- ) in BC that concentrate on the publication of creative writing. It will be noticed that the majority of literary periodicals in English that are of scholarly importance were established quite recently, reflecting the expansion of Canadian universities since the late 1950s and the concurrent growth of Canadian LITERATURE IN ENGLISH.