Governor General's International Award for Canadian Studies:

2004 - William H. New



William H. New is one of Canada’s prominent researchers of Canadian literature. During a career which has spanned more than 35 years, he has published nearly four hundred articles and over 40 books, which range from several widely-used anthologies to the massive Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2002), hailed as the authoritative work on Canadian literature. From 1977 to 1995 he was Chief Editor of the journal Canadian Literature, and responsible for its inclusiveness, its intellectual depth, and its critical acumen, which remain the journal’s hallmark to this day. Over the past 35 years he has been invited to join numerous editorial and advisory boards, including those of the New Canadian Library, the Canadian Encyclopedia, Twentieth Century Literature, Jianada Dipingxian, Journal of Caribbean Literatures, Short Story, Commonwealth, and the Smithsonian Series of Studies in Native American Writing.

His research and writing covers a wide range of topics, from studies of Lowry and Laurence to studies of Mansfield and Munro; from an original rethinking of the history of literature in Canada to comparative studies of the social consequences of literary form; from groundbreaking analyses of the short story genre and of Canadian negotiations between landscape and power, to books of poetry for both adults and children (including Riverbook & Ocean and Llamas in the Laundry, both 2002). Internationally recognized for his scholarly and critical writing, he has helped shape how postcolonial literatures are now studied and understood. His History of Canadian Literature (2nd ed., McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003), Literary History of Canada, six volumes of the Dictionary of Literary Biography (on Canadian writers over two hundred years), and the Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada are key reference works, essential to any library where Canadian literature is taught. His anthologies, covering a variety of genres, have made Canadian literature more accessible globally. Three of his monographs A History of Canadian Literature ; Borderlands: How We Talk about Canada; and Aspects of Canadian Culture: How it Differs from U.S. Culture have been translated into Chinese and are shaping the ways in which China thinks about Canada.

Beyond his remarkable publishing achievements, Professor New has fostered the development of Canadian literature through his involvement with others. He has played an instrumental role as lecturer, supervisor, mentor, and indefatigable source of information and advice to many renowned scholars and writers, and has continued to share his expertise with all visiting lecturers in search of new material or inspiration. A sought-after keynote speaker, Prof. New has taught or lectured in the USA, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, Finland, Norway, and China.

He has served as Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of British Columbia (1975-77) and on numerous university, national, and international committees, including several that dealt with postgraduate policy, Commonwealth and Government of Canada scholarships, Commonwealth Literature & Language Studies, Multiculturalism, teaching evaluation and improvement, and curriculum. He has served on Governor General’s Award juries, and also those relating to the Canada-Australia Prize, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, BC Book Awards, the UBC President’s Biography Medal, the Lorne Pierce Medal, and the Giller Prize.

He has also been honoured by many prizes, including the Killam Research and Teaching Prizes (1988, 1996), the Gabrielle Roy Award (1988), the Jacob Biely Prize (1995), the CUFA(BC) Career Achievement Award (2001), and the Association of Canadian Studies Award of Merit (2000). He has held distinguished lectureships (Brooks at University of Queensland, McDonald-Currie at McGill, and the Brenda & David McLean Chair in Canadian Studies at UBC), and he was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1986. His graduate students prepared a Festschrift (“New Directions”) for him in 1998, and the University of British Columbia named him University Killam Professor in 2001. He now holds the position of University Killam Professor Emeritus.

Close this window