In 1981, a series of conversations at a feminist literary theory conference in Montreal, which took place between York University English Professor Barbara Godard, Canadian poet Daphne Marlatt, Simon Fraser University Professor Kathy Mezei and Montreal writer Gail Scott, laid the foundation for the feminist literary theory journal Tessera. Three years later, the inaugural issue made its debut and the journal Tessera continued to publish until 2005.
Created to provide a continuing forum for feminist literary theory and theoretically informed feminist writing, Tessera was unique because its editors sought to offer feminist writing developed in Quebec to English Canadian critics and writers. Over the course of its history Tessera, which was published in both official languages, offered a forum for a dialogue between French and English speaking writers. Some of the nation's most important feminist writers were published by the journal, including Nicole Brossard, Louky Bersianik, Louise Cotnoir, Linda Hutcheon, Daphne Marlatt and Marlene Nourbese Philip among others.
Godard, who was a professor in the Department of English in the former Faculty of Arts and in the graduate programs of social & political thought, women’s studies and French, served as one of the founding co-editors of the journal. Sadly, Godard died in May 2010. For her scholarly contributions, Godard was posthumously inducted into the Royal Society of Canada in November 2010 (see YFile, Oct. 8).
Left: Barbara Godard
For more than a year, Godard worked with the Tessera collective to secure their approval to make the journal available online without restrictions. She also helped the York University Libraries to digitize the Tessera back files by sourcing additional copies of the journal to be used for the digitization process.
It is hosted using Open Journal Systems, a journal management and publishing software in use by more than 7,500 journals worldwide.
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