York English Professor Emerita Barbara Godard, who died May 16, has received the 2009 Gabrielle Roy Prize (English Section) posthumously for her most recent book, Wider Boundaries of Daring: The Modernist Impulse in Canadian Women’s Poetry, co-edited with poet Di Brandt.
The award is given annually by the Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures (ACQL) in honour of the best work of Canadian literary criticism published in English. Wider Boundaries of Daring (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009) was chosen by a jury from among the 13 books submitted this year, for its outstanding contribution to scholarship on Canadian literature. This is the second time it was awarded to Godard, the first being in 1988. Brandt mentioned the award at the funeral service for Godard on Friday, May 21 (see YFile, May 19).
“The essay collection is a productive, revealing critique of the masculinism of Canadian Modernism. One of the great strengths of the book is its detailed archaeology of the lives of Modernist women writers in relation to their works; the biographical scholarship contributes substantially to an understanding of the writers in question,” writes the ACQL. “The essays, on a remarkably wide range of authors and texts, collectively draw attention to the ways in which women writers work against, resent, and countermand Canadian Modernism.”
Left: Barbara Godard
Wider Boundaries of Daring looks at the exemplary contribution to Canadian modernism of women poets, critics, cultural activists and experimental prose writers. The contributors argue that these writers are the real founders of Canadian modernism for their innovative esthetic and literary experiments and for their extensive cultural activism. They founded literary magazines and writers’ groups, wrote newspaper columns, and created a new forum for intellectual debate on public radio. At the same time, they led busy lives as wives and mothers, social workers and teachers, editors and critics, and competed successfully with their male contemporaries in the public arena in an era when women were not generally encouraged to hold professional positions or pursue public careers.
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, Godard began teaching at York in 1971. She published widely on Canadian and Quebec cultures and on feminist and literary theory and translated the works of several Quebec writers, including Nicole Brossard, Yolande Villemarie and Louky Bersiani. In 2002, she received teaching awards from York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies and the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools. Godard served as York’s first Avie Bennett Historica Chair in Canadian Literature, was a founding co-editor of the feminist journal Tessera and the author and editor of several books.
For more information on the Gabrielle Roy Prize, visit the ACQL Web site.