Governor General's International Award for Canadian Studies:

2006 - Christl Verduyn



Christl Verduyn has made a significant contribution to Canadian literary
scholarship, to the expansion of the university's reach into the broader
community, and to the institutional strength of Canadian Studies, both in
Canada and abroad. Her pioneering work on Canadian women's writing in both English and French, on race and ethnicity in Canadian literature and on the theory and practice of life writing has opened avenues which subsequent
scholars continue to explore.

Dr. Verduyn's prodigious scholarly output has been characterized from its
beginnings by its exceptional range, its sensitive textual readings and its
archival nature. She is one of the few scholars in the country truly
conversant with the literatures of both French and English Canada, able to
write perceptively on them in both languages, and respected by both the
anglophone and francophone scholarly communities. She has been a major
contributor to the uncovering of the female literary tradition, and was
among the first scholars to examine the work of immigrant writers in both
cultures. Her comparative studies of immigrant writings in English-Canadian
and Quebec culture are unique in their effort to situate these works in the
very different cultural milieus and attitudes to multiculturalism of Quebec
and English Canada.

In the area of English-Canadian women's writing, she has written or edited
important books on Margaret Laurence, Marian Engel and Aritha Van Herk, as well as editing Marian Engel's diaries and her correspondance with Hugh Maclennan and, most recently, publishing an edited selection from the
personal diaries of Edna Staebler. Her book-length study of Engel's writings
won the Gabrielle Roy Prize of the Association of Canadian and Quebec

Dear Marian, Dear Hugh: The Maclennan-Engel Correspondance was awarded an Honourable Mention in Quill and Quire's list of Best Books of 1995. The fact that many if not all of Christl Verduyn's publications have succeeded in reaching beyond a restricted academic audience to speak to a larger literary public is evidenced by their favorable review in The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Montreal Gazette, The Literary Review of Canada, Books in Canada and other such publications. In the area of the multicultural voices in Canadian literature, she has made important theoretical contributions as well as elucidating the work of many authors through in-depth textual analysis.

Dr. Verduyn's scholarly contributions and impact extend far beyond her work as a literary critic, however. She has made Canadian literature accessible to a broad community both within and outside the university through activities such as the Lakefield Literary Festival, in whose establishment she played a key role, the many public lectures and readings she has arranged in order to bring Canadian writers into the university setting, and the exceptional number of conferences she organizes, almost always on cutting-edge themes or approaches to her field. Her work in building Canadian Studies, both nationally and internationally, has earned her wide respect both within this country and abroad. Chair of Canadian Studies at Trent University from 1993 to 1999, she was instrumental in establishing the joint Ph.D. program in Canadian Studies shared by Trent and Carleton. At Wilfrid Laurier University from 2000 to 2005, she built Canadian Studies into a strong and vibrant presence on campus. Her positions as Vice-President of the Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures (1992-94), President of the Association for Canadian Studies (2002-02), member of the Management Committee of the Aid to Scholarly Publishing Program (2003- ) and of the SSHRC Grants Committee on Literature (2004- ) are examples of her commitment to Canada's scholarly community and the high esteem she enjoys within it. As well, the keynote addresses and invited lectures she has given in the Netherlands and Poland, her participation in conferences in France, Spain, Germany, Iceland, Australia and the United States, and her co-edited volume Identity, Community and Nation: Essays on Canadian Literature testify to her importance in the international Canadian Studies community.


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