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Story Telling

Afra Kavanagh, Ph. D, teaches during Fall term 2010, English 367, The Canadian Short Story to 1969 and two sections of English 105, Introduction to Academic Writing. Dr Kavanagh also co-ordinates the Annual CBU Storytelling Symposium, which draws international story enthusiasts to Cape Breton and has led to the publication by CBU Press of two books of proceedings, from the first Symposium (The Power of the Story, 1998) and from the third (Women and Storytelling, 2000). This summer, Professor Kavanagh helped organize and coordinate the first national conference of the Association for Literature, Culture and Environment in Canada, here at CBU. The three day conference took delegates on fieldtrips across Cape Breton to historical, environmental and recreational sites. About 70 people presented at the conference.

Publications and conference presentations:

-"Ambivalence and Intertextuality in Marian Engel's The Glassy Sea." Journal of Canadian Studies, Spring 2006.

-Sunbeams from a Golden Machine: Early Writings by Marian Engel (Juvenilia Press, U of Alberta, Spring 2002), with junior editor, Tammy MacNeil, UCCB graduate, currently working on her master's degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland (total pages 59, vii-xxi and 1- 45)

"Surreality not Dull Fidelity: Writing the everyday in Marian Engel's short stories." The Journal of the Short Story in English (Angers, France) No. 38- Spring 2002 (pages 23-35)

-A segment of Marian Engel's journal "Bear Summer" with an introduction and annotations in The Small Details of Life: Twenty Diaries by Women in Canada (University of Toronto Press, Spring 2002)

- "Beatrice MacNeil and her Writing Ceilidhs," in Sculptures from Jagged Ore, edited by Carol Corbin and Eileen Smith-Piovesan (UCCB Press, 2001) 

-Women in Storytelling: The Proceedings of the Third Annual UCCB Storytelling Symposium, (UCCB Press, 2000) 

-"Telling Stories: A power paradigm in Michael Ondaatje's The English patient." Women and Storytelling (UCCB Press, 2000)

-The Power of the Story, the Proceedings of the First Annual UCCB Storytelling Symposium (UCCB Press, 1998)

Book Reviews 

Review of  Everywhere Being Is Dancing by Robert Bringhurst in the 2008 Spring issue of The Goose. Available online at  www.alecc.ca/thegoose.html

"Slavery's Painful History," Canadian Literature, 195 (Fall 2007), a review of The Book of Negroes, a novel by Lawrence Hill, and the winner of the 2008 Commonwealth Prize

Review of Robert bringhurst's The Tree of Meaning, in 2007 Fall issue of The Goose, available online at


“How Popular Culture changed the way American Catholics Lived and Worshipped,”  Topia (Spring 2006), a review of Rebecca  Sullivan’s Visual Habits

-"Return of the Family Romance," Canadian Literature, 190 (Autumn 2006): 98-100, a review of two new Canadian novels, including the Governor general's Award winner, A Perfect Night to Go to China. Available online at www.canlit.ca

       -Central Metaphors,” Canadian Literature, 182 (Autumn 2004): 89-90, a review of three new Canadian novels, available online at www.canlit.ca

        -“Risk-taking new authors,” Canadian Literature 177 (Summer 2003): 175-76, a review of four novels by new young Canadian women writers. 

       -Review of Sculptures from Jagged Ore: Essays about Cape Breton Women (UCCB Press 2001) in The Cape Breton Post, 13 December 2001 

        -Review of  CBU Press publication Centre of the World at the Edge of a Continent, ed. Judy Rolls and Carol Corbin, in the Nov.9, 1996 issue of The Cape Breton Post 

        -Review of Silver Donald Cameron's collection of essays, Sterling Silver in Brock Review, 1995

Conference Presentations:

-November17 & 18, 2006- Presented at the Eleventh Congress of the Spanish Association for Canadian Studies held in Madrid (hosted by Madrid University), the paper, “Artistic Representations of Ecological degradation in Jane Urquhart’s A Map of Glass.”  

-May 26, 2005- Presented at the McMaster University’s Archives and Canadian Literature Conference, “Turning the Knobs on Writers’ Closets,” a paper, “Ambivalence and Intertexuality in Marian Engel’s The Glassy Sea”

-May 6, 2005- Presented at the University of Ottawa Canadianist Symposium, “The Animals in this Country,” a paper, “The Bear Essential in the Canadian Search for Identity: Engel’s Bear and Glover’s Elle”

-May 2004- Presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada (HSSFC) to members of The Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE) the paper, “Contesting the Human/Animal Divide: Marian Engel’s Bear” 

-May 2003- Presented at the Professional Concerns Session of ACCUTE at HSSFC, a paper on ‘hybrid institutions’: “Let us applaud the educational Smorgasbord”

-March 2003- presented at the International Conference on Carol Shields and the Extra-ordinary, at the Sorbonne III, Paris, France, the paper, “Transforming ‘Seismic Nightmares into the Currency of the Mundane and Mild’: Narrative Strategy in Recent Works by Carol Shields”

-October 2002- presented with Tammy MacNeil, “The Benefits of Professor and Student Working together on a Volume of Juvenilia,” at The Association of Atlantic Universities Teaching Showcase, at the University of Prince Edward Island

-May 2001- presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada (HSSFC) at Laval University, Quebec City, to members of ACCUTE, the paper "A Community in the City: Marian Engel's Lunatic Villas"

-August 1999- presented at the International Conference on Storytelling, Brock University, the paper, "Telling HIS Story: A Power Paradigm in Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient"

- June 1999- presented at the Congress of the HSSFC held at Bishop's and Sherbrooke Universities, to members of ACCUTE, "Ma(i)nland vs.I/land: Writing Space: Engel's Islands"

Afra F. Kavanagh
Assistant Professor, Deptartment of Languages and Letters
Phone Number - 563-1431, Room Number - CC 275,
Cape Breton University, P.O. Box 5300, 1250 Grand Lake Road, Sydney,
Nova Scotia, Canada, B1P 6L2