Posts Tagged: featured

Sparking joy: Younger’s effervescent take on book publishing

White professional woman sitting in front of a computer. Set in a publishing office.

By Heidi Waechtler, Instructor, PUB 800/Fall 2020

I’ve spent much of this pandemic summer preparing to teach PUB 800 for the first time: wading through dense treatises on publishing and working out how to deliver an engaging remote seminar. So you’ll forgive me for devoting my introductory post for SFU Publishing to a delightfully frothy show that I’d like to recommend as a companion to your quarantine reading: Younger.

If you aren’t watching it already, Younger is a romantic comedy/drama series, based on a novel by Pamela Redmond, now heading into its seventh season. The premise: a 40-something woman attempts to reenter the book publishing world after taking a hiatus to raise her family, and finds she’s better received when she presents herself as a millennial industry neophyte. So she commits to the lie.

Younger’s ostensible focus is its love triangle (#TeamJosh all the way), but it’s actually a Trojan horse for plotlines ripped from the headlines of Publishers Weekly; Jia Tolentino, writing for The New Yorker, described it “a Gossip Girl for the publishing industry.” Publishing personalities who’ve been lampooned include George R.R. Martin, Karl Ove Knausgård, Marie Kondo, John Green, Kathryn Stockett, and Jeff Bezos (Paste Magazine has a full rundown of who’s been trolled). There are knowing nods to trends (colouring books! hygge! influencers-turned-authors!) and scandals (bulk-order bestsellers! plagiarism! #MeToo!); with a real-life New York book editor serving as a consultant, the show feels firmly grounded in reality. Empirical Press, the venerable yet scrappy book publisher where the show is set, is hopelessly cash-strapped—perhaps in part because their publisher, Charles Brooks, is a self-professed romantic better at making speeches about how “great literature will survive, because we need great stories,” than he is at publishing said stories. Empirical is forever courting investors, considering a merger, or else being bested by Amazon—or, ahem, “Achilles.” Like I said: the verisimilitude is there.

Sure, there are quibbles. There’s the episode where the team decides to go to the Frankfurt Book Fair…the week before the Frankfurt Book Fair, or the instant-book pace with which every new acquisition hits the market, or the fact that there seems to be only one literary agent in this version of New York City. And the show is sorely lacking in racial diversity, which you could say is actually a little too accurate for a show depicting book publishing today.

Still, I’m predisposed to like any series with a publishing angle, and Younger offers those of us in the trenches an escapist rendering of the industry, where the untenable P&Ls and the massive returns happen off-camera. Even real-world publishers are getting in on the fantasy: Simon & Schuster published Marriage Vacation, the roman à clef written by in-show character Pauline Turner Brooks. Besides, it’s been a few years since the CBC’s Being Erica, where the perilous trade was always more of a backdrop to the protagonist’s time-travelling journey to self-actualization. And Gilmore Girls, for all of Rory’s bookishness, never quite got it right: remember the Yale prof who confidently asserted, about the assignment of her own book as course text, “I get full royalties whether you buy the book new or used”? (No, she doesn’t.)

If you’re enrolled in my PUB 800 seminar this fall, we’ll talk about how publishers accumulate, deploy, and signify cultural and economic capital, publishing’s colonial roots, and the future of the book, among other topics. And I look forward to those spirited discussions. But, if I could add a “recommended binge watch” to my syllabus, it would be Younger, which has some surprisingly trenchant commentary on publishing to offer as well. As Rachel Syme observed, writing for The New Republic, “Publishing, at its heart, is about trying to capture and disseminate the zeitgeist; many of the conversations that the characters end up having on Younger are about how best to shepherd these new stories into the world and about the bumps they hit along the way.” May publishing provide enough industry gossip to sustain the show for years to come.


Little Free Libraries

When Vancouver’s public libraries abruptly closed their doors as part of March’s Covid lockdown, my book-addicted family was suddenly forced to go cold turkey. Hallelujah for Little Free Libraries, which have sprouted all over town in the last few years.

As the lockdown dragged on and we all got sick of hearing each other’s audiobooks playing in the next room — who is she talking to? Oh, it’s William Hurt reading Ernest Hemingway / Jack and Annie from the Magic Treehouse / the cats from Warriors — I began taking my kids out on bike tours of the neighbourhood, trawling for good reads.

We slowly learned which libraries had the best pickings and the fastest turnover. Now we have a circuit we follow, a looping trajectory that takes us to five rich reading sources in half an hour. We come home sweaty and elated, showing off the latest discoveries.

Entrepreneur Todd Bol created the first Little Free Library in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009, to celebrate his book-loving mother, who had just died. He carved wood from an old garage door into a mini, one-room schoolhouse, then set it up on a pole in front of his house and filled it with books. Passersby were asked to “Take a book, leave a book,” and they did. The movement, which became a nonprofit in 2012, spread fast; Bol’s original aim was to create 2,510 libraries, more than Andrew Carnegie; there are now more than 100,000, in 91 countries.

One of the many joys of working in publishing is free books. The salaries are pitiful, the wait for that prized promotion eternal — but the people are great and you receive lots of free books, which I’ve always loved to pass on. My mother, an ardent reader like Todd Bol’s mother, has never complained of all the birthday and Christmas presents with “Advance Reading Copy — Not For Sale” stamped on the spine.

Like many book lovers, I grapple endlessly with all the books I haven’t read yet, piling up by my bed and crammed into the bookshelves in every nook of the house. So Covid seemed made for “Take a book, leave a book.” Time to clear out the shelves and give away some great books that I’ve already read, or will never read, or that aren’t, truly, quite as great as the gripping copy on the front flap (which I may have written) claims.

Except I almost always end up taking more books than I leave. And having to find more space in those crammed shelves for more volumes I’ll probably never read.

Little Free Libraries are a fascinating window into the reading habits of your neighbours. A lot of airport reads, naturally: romance, mystery, crime, mostly well-thumbed and ruthlessly discarded. Computer manuals, academic tomes, travel guides, all worth reading once, all surely doomed to

never be re-read. And a surprising amount of CanLit, oversized B-format paperbacks with worthy endorsements, often pristine, i.e., bought with good intentions but never cracked (I ask myself the same question; should I read last year’s Giller shortlist? Really?).

Every trip I stumble upon wonderful books. My first discovery was “The Sisters,” Mary S. Lovell’s fascinating joint biography of the six extraordinary Mitford sisters. Minor aristocrats, the sparkling siblings took 1930s’ British society by storm — until two of them fell in love with Hitler and became pariahs (Diane spent most of the war in prison; Unity shot herself when war was declared). Nancy wrote bestselling comedies of manners that seem Cretaceous today; thank god for Jessica, a lifelong leftie who satirized her adopted home in exposés like The American Way of Death. Six hundred gossipy pages got me through the first month of quarantine.

By the time May rolled around I was deep into Music: A Subversive History by Ted Gioia and re-reading Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals, with the ITV characters in my head. Marvelling that someone had left Vera Cacciatore’s The Swing — who doesn’t judge a book by its cover? — and trying to believe in Michael Ondaatje’s Warlight. Except that time was now passing very slowly, and I wasn’t finishing any books. Just refining my bookshelves, like that (apocryphal?) purser rearranging the deckchairs on The Titanic.

By the time I stumbled into July all I was good for was Louis L’Amour, “the world’s bestselling Western writer.” I won’t defend him — there’s a PhD on settler colonialism in every pulpy volume — but I do love his author bio, which mentions no awards but 40 million books sold and the fact that “since leaving his native Jamestown, North Dakota, at the age of fifteen, he’s been a longshoreman, lumberjack, elephant handler, hay shocker, flume builder, fruit picker, and an officer on tank destroyers during World War II.” Note to self: publish more ex-elephant handlers. And how do you shock hay — with an elephant?

(Answer: no, you use string)

Scott Steedman


Thinking about the Legacies of Colonialism in Publishing

Wet'suwet'en Strong march, Jan 11, 2020

In the vast European colonial project, from the 15th century onwards, three institutions – church, school, and book – formed the non-military means by which European empires and cultures established social and economic dominance over practically every continent on earth. Publishing has been central to this; the rise of print culture in Europe coincides neatly with the rise of imperialism and colonialism.

In 19th-century Canada, this played out as part of a nation-building project: an effort to secure an enormous resource base, which involved explicitly racist efforts to centrally control both the First Nations and the waves of diverse immigrant populations that already had and continued to move into North America – while at the same time working to resist American “manifest destiny.” Colonial and later national governments in Canada promoted a curriculum and a school system designed to assimilate and normalize British culture across a diverse and dynamic population. That the earliest publishers in Canada were the same people that designed the Residential School system is not coincidental; these were parts of the larger nation-building project.

It began with religious, government, and educational publishing, but in the 20th century, as “colonialism” ceased to be an orienting term in public life, the project was articulated more in terms of class and social mobility. Books and literature had long been the markers of class distinction and indeed self-improvement for the middle classes. The ways in which trade and mass-market publishing shaped up in the 20th century reinforced notions of what it meant to be cultured, educated, well-read.

The idea of a best-selling book – the book that everyone reads – comes out of the colonial paradigm: gathering and sustaining mass audiences around a small number of texts in heavy circulation. The “economy of scale” in mass production means that the more copies of a book that can be printed and sold, the greater the profit. So, while publishing has often prided itself on plurality and freedom, the economic logic of the best-sellers can’t help but to reinforce cultural hierarchy: the big book, by the star author, that everyone reads, succeeds both in making money and in generating cultural capital for the author, the publisher, and the ideas — this is the force behind all the “cultural industries.” 

But that means that exclusion is part of the mix; it’s a constitutional part of how cultural markets work. It doesn’t have to be exclusion by design or intent, but exclusion is a result of choosing what to include, and what to take a risk on. If as a publisher I decide that a particular thing is worth publishing, that means I am also deciding that something else isn’t. As we elevate certain things to the status of cool or desirable or important, we are making a distinction in favour of those things and against other things. We can call this “curation,” but the other side of it is “gatekeeping.”

So, if by its very nature publishing is trading in distinction, then it always risks participating in and trading on the forms of oppression that are shot through the social order of the day. Our social order is pre-conditioned by racism, by class structures (or the legacy of class structures, if you want to deny that class still exists), by gender normativity, and by the persistent capitalist mass-market reification of all sorts of “norms” – all of which serve to guide a publisher’s ideas of where a profitable market is likely to be. And here is where the systemic, hidden racisms are most dangerous: in the unspoken, unexamined assumptions about what and who is important, and where so-called “colour-blindness” is such a liability, because it leads back to an unexamined white normativity.

The result is a nasty feedback loop, as in the incredibly oft-reported claim that “people [who aren’t white] don’t read,” which then discourages publishers (who are mostly white) from taking risks on any books that don’t assume the usual white audience. Which means those books don’t get published, and by extension, that readers of colour remain invisible (while invisibly reading those same white books). A recent piece in The New York Times, “A Conflicted Cultural Force: What it’s Like to Be Black in Publishing” provides a stark illustration of this pattern. 

There isn’t a straightforward way out of this loop. Five years of Lee & Low’s Diversity Survey tell the publishing industry over and over again that it is shockingly homogeneous, and publishers claim to have heard the call. But It’s hard to get out of the rut because a good deal of economic energy is devoted to staying in the rut. And because this is such a ‘constitutional’ problem to the publishing industry, it’s not easily solved via any means already sitting on the desk of industry insiders. 

Rather, it is going to take a lot of different actions and agendas working in concert. Yes, publishers can make more informed and proactive decisions, both about acquiring books and about hiring staff. Affirmative action-style plans help because they directly address patterns of marginalization; this is necessary but not sufficient. There also needs to be a diversity of publishing organizations themselves: Indigenous publishers; Black publishers; LGBTQ+ publishers – and booksellers too. And the cultures of literature and reading themselves have to change – the recent calls for white readers to go find and read books written by people of colour are important because this addresses that invisibility and also helps to broaden the discourse across formerly distinct reading audiences.

The late Greg Younging – Publisher at Theytus Books, Professor at UBC Okanagan, and tireless advocate for Indigenous publishing – made me believe that a decolonized kind of publishing was possible; that it was possible to escape these colonial legacies and the logics that perpetuate them. His optimism — and his dogged work on this — inspired many of us. The surge of activism and awareness around racial justice in 2020 also inspires me. This defines the work to be done right now — by everyone in publishing, but especially those of us in publishing education — to bust open these old assumptions and hide-bound ways of thinking about publishing, and markets, and culture. We need to understand these legacies and how they shape us, and we need to tell ourselves new stories about what writing and publishing mean in today’s world, about who it’s for, and why.  


30 Days of Art & Design

What’s 30 Days of Art & Design?

To get better at something, one needs practice. I asked students to create an artifact every day for the duration of the Design Awareness in Publishing Process and Products. This course is all about challenging the students’ creative thinking and design practices (like wrestling with some of the dilemmas designers face and talking about our professional, social, and ethical responsibilities).  

I did mean every day (well, kind of). Some days off or cheat days were okay (let’s be realistic). To make it easier to keep up the practice, students could spend as little as 5 minutes a day. And to keep everyone accountable to this daily practice (to avoid doing 30 mini art projects in one day), every student had to share their work with their classmates or make it public. 

It could be messy, weird, and silly.

The goal of this project is not to create something pretty, amazing or flawless. Instead, it’s all about getting better at a creative practice and trying to push one’s creativity. It could be messy, weird, and silly. And I asked students to avoid selecting something they were already good at doing to explore something new. 

Students projects

The first task was to submit a creative brief, including what they wanted to learn and the scope of their project. Most students limited themselves to a medium (like calligraphy, photography, tea leaves, software, etc.), a subject matter (monsters, drop caps, logos, lyrics, etc.), and a time frame (ranging from 5 to 90 minutes). Second, was carving time out of every day for their daily creative practice. Third, was to submit a reflection on the process, discussing the evolution of their work. It was amazing how every student ended up with very different projects. Some explored particular skills in a familiar design world, others learnt new software from scratch, while others focused on gaining an entirely new art practice. 

The instructor tries … ish

To support my students in this daily demand for work (it’s not easy), both our TA and I participated. My own goal was to learn a new application, focusing on drawing things from my garden in 30 minutes. Thinking back on my process and progress, the results of my daily illustrations were mixed.  

I really liked focusing on one subject (my favourites being the slug and snail) and trying various methods to illustrate it. Since I was interested in learning a new tool and what it could offer, the drawings were very different from one another (I was using different brushes and blending tools). A few illustrations only took 5 minutes, while others took a couple of nights to complete. The time spent plus the tools selected dramatically impacted the level of detail in each post.

I go back and forth about which one I prefer or which one I would want to make “my” style. The more detailed illustrations felt satisfying and felt like “real” art. (Let’s not even get into what “real” art might mean!) But the looser (and quicker!) illustrations felt freeing and daring; a fantastic feeling! Strangely, the quick, fast, less perfect drawings were more challenging for me, not because they took more attempts to get the lines to work “perfectly,” but because they are rawer and made me feel more exposed.  

Daily accountability

Where all my students succeed, I failed terribly! I only did 15 of 30 posts! Many of us stopped posting for #blackouttuesday. Questioning what to post, if anything, was particularly important when, in class, we were talking about representation, cultural appropriation and decolonizing design practices. It felt important to talk about the impact our design artifacts have in our worlds. But without this project’s public accountability, I stopped my daily practice. Yet my students continued, some privately and some publicly, each at their own pace. Their thoughtfulness and their dedication humble me. So, I will keep doing this project, even though the class is done, and I’m submitting this assignment soooooo late. 

If you are interested to chat about daily creative practices fails, how to avoid using the computer to be more creative, or publication design, email me and check out the Master of Publishing program or the Undergraduate Minor in Print and Digital Publishing

Mauve Pagé is a Publication Design lecturer with Publishing @ SFU. She hopes to inspire students to find creative solutions through conceptual thinking, and get them excited about the unlimited potential to communicate ideas aesthetically.


What Are We Talking About When We Talk About ‘Care’?

By Hannah McGregor

There’s an awful lot of talk about care these days. I’m paying attention to it, because I’m a scholar who has worked quite a bit on care as both a feminist ethical framework and, frankly, a problem

In the broader field of normative ethics, an ethics of care is a feminist intervention that grapples generally speaking with the problem of the other and how we ought to treat them. There are different approaches to producing a normative ethics—an idea of how we ought to be towards one another—such as utilitarianism, which holds that we should make choices that benefit the greatest number of people. The feminist force of an ethics of care lies how it values the kinds of emotional labour and care work that build and sustain networks and that are often responsible for keeping the most vulnerable—those who might be tossed aside in a utilitarian model—alive. 

“Suddenly, everywhere, it seems like care trumps structure. Deadlines, grades, and rubrics have become laughable, their arbitrariness impossible to ignore.”

But care has also been the subject of much critique, particularly by Black and Indigenous scholars who have pointed out how feelings, especially feelings that cluster around the concepts of compassion, empathy, and care, can be used as justification for great violence. Care is often the name in which children are separated from parents, in which state power is extended into the lives and homes of BIPOC and disabled people, in which power decides whose lives matter. The capacity for empathy is the name in which white women extended the guiding hand of colonialism and imperialism that encoded white supremacy in churches and libraries and schools and hospitals. 

This is the context in which I find myself paying particular attention to how we’re talking about care right now. I keep thinking about Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer here in B.C., crying at a press conference in early March. An act that, perhaps, in another time, might have been leveraged against her, a woman in a position of medical authority, was instead praised as a welcome sign of compassion and empathy. These are times, we all seem to agree, when we need a lot more compassion and empathy. These are times when knowledge and expertise, necessary though they may be, come accompanied by feeling. 

That’s as true in the university as it is in public health. In this moment of global and (unequally) shared crisis, the idea that intellectuals and experts need to model disinterestedness or unemotional objectivity is crumbling around us. Academics insisting on a business-as-usual adherence to traditional notions of rigour look more and more out of touch. In the spaces of the university, our classrooms and our conferences and our associations, calls for care are being sounded everywhere. Those of us who teach at universities and colleges are suddenly, unavoidably being reminded of our students’ humanity and our own, in the context of institutions that are invested in us becoming a little less human so we can be a little more efficient. Where a utilitarian approach to the current crisis in post-secondary education might celebrate the efficiencies of digital pedagogy or the “free time” some academics seem to be finding right now, calls for an ethics of care emphasize the networks of connection that make our research and our teaching possible and encourage us all to nurture those networks, even if it’s at the expense of efficiency and utility.  

Suddenly, everywhere, it seems like care trumps structure. Deadlines, grades, and rubrics have become laughable, their arbitrariness impossible to ignore. And these transformations are not unique to the university. As the Canadian government implements wage subsidies that underline the need for a guaranteed basic incometelecommunication companies are suddenly waiving overage fees—all in the name of care. BC is finally opening pathways to a safe supply for drug users, seeming to recognize at last, as so many advocates have been arguing for so long, that drug users are part of our community, and that we cannot let some parts of our community suffer without all of us suffering. In the university, as in the world, we are perhaps realizing that our institutions, our systems, our rigour will not save us. We are being collectively called upon to reimagine these systems in terms of an ethics of care. 

But care as deployed by corporations or by the state in the interests of oppressive systems will not save us. We need to be suspicious when institutions claim to care, and when care is being used to maintain, rather than dismantle, fundamentally dehumanizing systems. As the many inequities and injustices in and beyond the university are being laid bare, care may be leveraged as a way to patch over them. What if we refuse this? What does it look like, as Christina Sharpe puts it, to “think (and rethink and rethink) care laterally, in the register of the intramural, in a different relation than that of the violence of the state”? What forms of care might we enact that are not economized by the state or the university or for-profit ed tech companies? 

Alongside calls for care and empathy, we need to be asking: what does this care look like, and where might it be, to quote Billy-Ray Belcourt, actually in service of the settler colonial state’s “economization of emotion”? We might also ask: who does the burden of care fall on, and how might a depoliticized call for empathy be invisibilizing the very real inequities this crisis lays bare, particularly the urgency of the many forms of underpaid, precarious, and often gendered and racialized front-line work, and care work, that has been declared urgent and essential? Is our care being leveraged to ensure that the university maintains its institutional and imaginative force in the midst of this crisis, rather than being exposed as a site of neoliberal profiteering?

This post was first published in Hook & Eye

Art (used with permission)

Dr. Lucia Lorenzi (B.A. Hons, Simon Fraser University; M.A. Simon Fraser University; PhD, The University of British Columbia) is a scholar, activist, and writer based out of Vancouver, B.C. Her current academic appointment is as SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, working under the supervision of Dr. Amber Dean. She specializes in trauma theory and Canadian literature and drama, with a broad focus on sexualized and gendered violence in literature and other media. Her dissertation project was a study of the literary and dramatic uses of silence as a subversive technique for representing sexual assault. Her current research focuses on representations of the figure of the perpetrator, with a specific emphasis on perpetrators’ own narratives. Lucia’s research has been published in West Coast LineTOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, and Canadian Literature. You can find her art on Instagram @empathywarrior


Publishing@SFU in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

We stand in solidarity with protesters who are resisting anti-Black police violence. Black Lives Matter. Here are some places to donate if you have the means (h/t to @canlesbrarian for gathering these): 

Bail Funds in US states: https://www.autostraddle.com/43-bail-funds-you-can-absolutely-support-right-now/

Black Lives Matter Vancouver: https://www.gofundme.com/f/blmvan

Black Lives Matter Toronto: https://blacklivesmatter.ca/donate/

Anti-Black violence is part of the ongoing crisis of white supremacy and settler colonialism. It is our responsibility to stand against anti-Indigenous violence and to recognize how these different forms of oppression are intertwined. 

We also recognize the ongoing crisis of anti-Black racism in Canadian publishing, and would like to highlight the urgent work being done by organizers, educators, and activists who are working hard to transform this industry. Follow the work of Breathing Space Creative @BSC_AuthorCare, @cicelybelle’s https://www.cicelyblainconsulting.com/, BIPOC of Publishing in Canada @BIPOCPub, People of Color in Publishing @PocPub, and Ebonye Gussine Wilkins (https://egwmedia.com/) to learn more. 

We also recognize that, as part of Canada’s publishing community and university system, we have a responsibility to address anti-Black racism in our own practices. We commit to:

  1. Undergo anti-bias training at a faculty level; 
  2. Continuously revisit our curriculum to ensure that we are centring the legacies of colonialism and racism in Canadian publishing as well as our own institution;
  3. Encourage BIPOC enrolment in our Master of Publishing program by reducing barriers to access, including targeted funding and the discouragement of unpaid internships; 
  4. Continuing to learn about our own complicity in anti-Blackness as well as settler colonialism by reading and listening. 

To better understand the history and present of anti-Black violence in Canada as well as the strength of Black art and storytelling, we recommend: 

Policing Black Lives by Robyn Maynard (@policingblack), published by @fernpub

The Skin We’re In by @DesmondCole, published by @PenguinRandomCA

How She Read by Chantal Gibson, published by @caitlinpress

The Gospel of Breaking by Jillian Christmas, published by @Arsenalpulp

The Black Prairie Archives: An Anthology by @karina_vernon, published by @wlupress 

I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter by David Chariandy, published by @PenguinRandomCA

Brother by David Chariandy, published by @PenguinRandomCA

A Map to the Door of No Return by Dionne Brand, published by @PenguinRandomCa

Blank: Essays and Interviews by M. NourbeSe Philip, published by @bookhugpress 

The Hanging Of Angelique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montreal by @afuacooper, published by @HarperCollinsCa

The Outer Harbour by @WaydeCompton, published by @Arsenalpulp

George and Rue by George Elliott Clarke, published by @HarperCollinsCa

The Dyzgraphxst by @canisialu, published by @PenguinRandomCa

Dear Current Occupant by Chelene Knight (LWEstudio), published by @bookhugpress 

100 Days by Juliane Okot Bitek, published by @UAlbertaPress


Publishing School in the Pandemic: Making plans in uncertain times

Cherry blossoms in Vancouver, April 2020

Are we disrupted by the pandemic? Hell yes, we are all disrupted. But we remain committed to our students and our mission and to the well-being of our communities. As an academic institution, we are in a position to keep going, even if it means adjusting how we operate.

In mid-March, Simon Fraser University made the decision to suspend all in-class instruction. That meant we scrambled to pick up all of our existing courses — both graduate and undergraduate — and keep them going online. SFU is invested in the Canvas LMS, which provided a core infrastructure to rely on. And of course, we have expertise in online education, digital publishing, and web-based communications, so this didn’t prove too much of a hurdle for us technically. As with everything in this pandemic, many of the biggest adjustments are social.

For summer term at SFU, the official policy is to continue online instruction. So all our regular courses this summer will be offered digitally as well, and they are seeing healthy enrollments; students want to take courses and complete their degrees, and so we’re offering our summer undergraduate curriculum online.

What will all of this look like come September? No one can say exactly, though we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to be back in the classroom. British Columbia’s relative success at flattening the curve is one source of optimism. But it’s not the whole story; the dynamics of the pandemic could surprise us yet, and it’s possible that we’ll continue to deliver courses online during the fall semester. We are actively planning for that contingency.

A crucial issue for us is our international students. Many of our classes, and especially the Master of Publishing program, have lots of international students. So we also have to think about a scenario in which it is possible to be back in the classroom here in Vancouver, but where travel restrictions mean our international students can’t join us. Here, it’s might help to think about offering our fall courses in a “blended” mode, combining in-class and online interactions. That might allow our international colleagues to join us virtually at first, and in person when it becomes possible to do so.

Because it’s impossible right now to plan for any one situation, we’re instead planning for multiple scenarios and preparing to iterate and make changes as the situation in the world evolves. 

So plan we will, and we’ll keep you updated as things become clearer. Stay tuned!


Reno or Rebuild? Making change and forging connections in an evolving Canadian literary culture

Event Details

Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Room 1400 SFU Harbour Centre
Doors open at 6:30 pm
Event begins at 7:00 pm

This public event is part of the Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit

Diversity panels and half-hearted efforts at inclusivity haven’t brought the change our industry needs. If Canadian publishing truly wants to excel and uplift, we have to ask some difficult questions about who we publish, what we publish, and how we publish—and we must ensure that both writers and the industry professionals working to publish them represent the change we seek.

Cherie will talk about the need for ‘diverse’ voices in decision-making roles in publishing. Sharing her own experiences and challenges she will examine how publishers can provide readers with what they want while giving them an opportunity to fall in love with what they don’t yet know they want.

Cherie’s talk will be followed by a conversation with CBC journalist, Angela Sterritt. 

About Cherie Dimaline

Cherie Dimaline‘s young adult novel The Marrow Thieves shot to the top of the bestseller lists when it was published in 2017, and stayed there for more than a year. It won the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Kirkus Prize in the young adult literature category, the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature, was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award and, among other honours, was a fan favourite in the 2018 edition of CBC’s Canada Reads. It was also a Book of Year on numerous lists including the National Public Radio, the School Library Journal, the New York Public Library, the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire and the CBC. Cherie was named Emerging Artist of the Year at the Ontario Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts in 2014, and became the first Indigenous writer in residence at the Toronto Public Library. From the Georgian Bay Métis Community in Ontario, she now lives in Vancouver. Her most recent novel for adults, Empire of Wild, published by Penguin Random House Canada in 2019, was named Indigo’s #1 Fiction Pick of the Year, and is forthcoming in April in the US through HarperCollins.

About Angela Sterritt

Angela Sterritt is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and keynote speaker from British Columbia. In 2018, Sterritt won multiple awards for her CBC column, Reconcile This which explores the tensions between Indigenous people and institutions in British Columbia. Sterritt’s feature on missing and murdered Indigenous, women, girls and two-spirit people was nominated for a Canadian Association of Journalists Award. She is now writing a book on the topic.

Download Poster

Admission is free, but a reservation is recommended. Please email: pubworks@sfu.ca


Humour and Anger and Uncompromising Truths: A Conversation with Lindy West, Author of The Witches Are Coming, at the Vancouver Writers Festival

Hannah McGregor of Publishing @ SFU sat down for a conversation with acclaimed author Lindy West at the 2019 Vancouver Writers Festival, held at the Vogue Theatre on Dec 3, 2019. Publishing @ SFU sponsored this all ages event and handed out MPub (Master of Publishing) buttons, made by Publication Design lecturer, Mauve Pagé.

Photo credit: Dillon Byrne

Writer, comedian, and activist Lindy West is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman (2016, Hachette Books) as well as the brand new essay collection The Witches Are Coming (2019, Hachette Books). In 2018 she wrote and executive produced Shrill as a half-hour comedy for Hulu, which just wrapped its second season.

West was interviewed on stage by SFU @ Publishing’s very own Assistant Professor, Hannah McGregor. McGregor’s research and teaching focuses on the histories and futures of print culture and new media in Canada, with a focus on Canadian middlebrow magazines, and podcasting as both self-publishing and public pedagogy. Read more about Hannah here.

Photo credit: Dillon Byrne

A big thank-you to Lindy West and everyone involved in this production for all the laughs, insightful commentary, and a chance to inspire the next generation of feminist thinkers and writers.

If you’re interested in getting a one-of-a-kind education in publishing, consider applying for the Master of Publishing Program at Simon Fraser University before February 1st.


Final Days until Application Deadline for 2020 Master of Publishing Program

The Master of Publishing (MPub) program is the only program in Canada to offer a postgraduate degree in publishing, and is the country’s premier training ground for publishing professionals.

The deadline to apply is Feb 1st, every year.

If this is your first time encountering the SFU Master of Publishing Program, you’ll want to watch these two videos, as they’ll give you a sense of what you can expect:

 

You’ll also want to read “12 Completely Made-Up Books Created by 2019’s Master of Publishing Students”

If you’re interested in reading about MPub alumni, here are some articles:

If you’re interested in getting to know the faculty, go to the faculty page. If you’re interested in getting to know their scholarship and work inside and outside SFU, here are some articles:

So, if you’re read to apply to the Master of Publishing Program at Simon Fraser University, remember to do so before February 1st!


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