Divining and the Literary Watershed: Value, Interpretation and Use of Literary Archives

An interdisciplinary session on literary archives will take place at the Association of Canadian Archivists Conference, Whitehorse, Canada, 7-9 June 2012.

The history of archival acquisition in Canada, the U.S., Great Britain and Australia suggest that literary archives were an early and compelling priority for acquisition by archives and special collections. In fact, the acquisitions fever of the late 1970s to the early 1990s might be compared to that of a gold rush.

The terrain for acquisitions has changed, however, in the last two decades, as has the use and interest in literary archives. This interdisciplinary panel will discuss the particular features of literary archives, how archivists and scholars are approaching them currently, and the new networks opening up worldwide that focus on literary archives. The panel will also discuss archival appraisal (gleaning archival gold and divining watershed movements/events in a context of multi-faceted contemporary literature) as well as the recent return to the archives by literary scholars following a post-modern approach to archival sources.


  • Jennifer Douglas, PhD candidate, iSchool, University of Toronto
  • Catherine Hobbs, Literary Archivist (English), Library and Archives Canada
  • Linda Morra, Associate Professor, Department of English, Bishops University, author of Corresponding Influence: Selected Letters of Emily Carr and Ira Dilworth (UTP, 2006) and co-editor of Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace: Explorations in Canadian Women’s Archives (Wilfrid Laurier University Press 2012).

Moderator: Heather Home, Queen’s University Archives

The preliminary conference programme is available for download as a PDF document (the ‘Divining and the Literary Watershed’ session is listed as 2a under an abridged title ‘Divining Value’)

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