Test your knowledge in Bioethics!

Our recently published Bioethics in Context covers a wide range of topics, including: appropriate measures one should take to obtain informed consent and to protect patient privacy, dealing with patients who exhibit signs of mental illness, responding to sensitive cultural and religious concerns, and balancing the needs of medical researchers with those of patients participating in clinical trials. The book is uniquely up-to-date in its discussion of health care law, and unpacks the complex web of American policies, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, so as to make it intelligible to those without legal expertise. Useful case studies and examples are embedded throughout, and a companion website offers a thorough curated database of relevant legal precedents as well as additional case studies and other resources.

We’ve included one of the case studies from the extensive website component below.  Test your prowess at Bioethics by attempting the discussion questions – can you get them all right?

Patient Accepts One Treatment but Under Surgery Needs Additional Procedure

Sally Violet is a 21 year old woman who has faced a series of difficult medical interventions. Kidney failure, pulmonary obstruction, and liver disease are among her problems. Due to her circumstances, she is not likely to live for more than 10 years. However, she is beginning to resist medical intervention. Her parents talked her into one more surgery. She reluctantly agreed, but in return received a promise from her parents that they will not pressure her into any other intervention after this one. This surgery, she insists, will be the last intrusive procedure she will undergo. “It isn’t worth it anymore,” she said. Her doctors, including her surgeon, Dr. Stoer, know about Sally’s attitude, and believe it to be unfortunate. Who knows what medical advances may help Sally during the next 10 years? She might live longer than anyone thought.

Sally undergoes surgery, but during the surgery Dr. Stoer unexpectedly discovered what appears to be a malignant growth. Malignant or not, it needed to be removed because it could become life threatening. Given that Sally may reject another surgery, Dr. Stoer decides to seek permission from Sally’s parents to remove the tumor, rather than wait until Sally wakes up and recovers. Although potentially malignant, there is no urgent need to resect it at this time. In fact, the standard procedure would have been to close, give limited radiation, then resect or debulk the tumor. Sally’s parents agreed to the extension of the surgery, as Dr. Stoer predicted they would. 

After the surgery Sally feels betrayed. She believes that she might have a battery claim against Dr. Stoer because he fully understood she did not want any additional procedures. Given that Sally is dependent on her parents financially and as caretakers, she doesn’t think she will go forward with a lawsuit, but wishes she could. She doesn’t blame her parents, because she understands their desire for her to live. But a professional, she says, should know better than to deny a person informed consent.

Discussion Questions

Instructional Treatise from A Book for Governesses

The Half-Caste

Half-Caste, The

The following is an excerpt from Appendix C of our recently published The Half-Caste by Dinah Mulock Craik, edited by Melissa Edmundson.

[volume editor’s note] The social and financial status of the Victorian governess was a topic of debate throughout the nineteenth century…Emily Peart’s A Book for Governesses (1868) provides an example of the many instructional treatises designed to prepare young women for life as governesses, especially women who unexpectedly found themselves seeking employment due to financial obligations or other family misfortune.

From Emily Peart’s A Book for Governesses (Edinburgh: W. Oliphant, [1868])

It is not specially for those who have been brought up and educated with a view to their being governesses, and who, consequently, have accepted the occupation as their natural work, that these pages have been written; they are rather intended for those who, by sudden strokes of adverse fortune, or by change in one shape or another, are brought down from ease and wealth to a state of dependence upon work for their daily bread.

Work is a noble and a glorious thing—a blessing and a boon. In one way or another, it is the happy lot of all; for rank and riches exempt no one from work of some kind. But sometimes the sudden shock, which reveals so unexpected a fact as poverty, has scarcely passed, before the truth presses on the heart and brain of the sufferer, “Henceforth, for the hitherto unnoticed needs of daily life, I have none but myself to look to.” Imagine for a moment, cherished daughter of a happy home, what the feeling is that you have no right to utter the sweet words, “My home;”—imagine what it is to be away from friends, companions, the associates of your youth, to have to bear the coldness of strangers, the exactions of employers, the patronage of inferiors; to be measured exactly for how much you are worth in a business-like and financial point of view; your capabilities questioned, your acquirements displayed, your appearance criticised; your manners, your deportment, your dress commented upon; and all to be added up and decided, and their sum total to be told out in £, s. d. Think of the same routine of work day by day—work, not to be rewarded by a mother’s kiss, a father’s smile, and the joy of the evening gathering round the family hearth, —and you will have pictured to yourself the lot of hundreds of your sisters; on many of whom it has fallen as a sudden blight. Let such remember that it is not by smothering sorrow, or by trying to keep it down, as if it did not exist, that it is to be conquered; but by bravely facing it and dealing with it. It is there in its intensity; let them realize it, and then set about the best way of bearing it. […]

There is an excess of sensitiveness in the feelings of a girl who has lost the shelter of a home, when she knows for the first time her position, which must be felt to be in the least understood. She is suffering, and suffering makes her weak. It is not to the always poor, but to the suddenly-made poor, that the slight, meant or unmeant, comes with keen meaning. In sound health you never feel a hundred influences, which in weakness and sickness affect you most painfully. Actions, which before would have passed unnoticed, are misconstrued; favours, which before would have been joyfully accepted, are now refused with a morbid shrinking; words, which before would have been unheeded, are full of new and stinging meaning; eyes washed with hot tears are quick to see things which do not really exist. The shock sustained, and the bewilderment accompanying it, absorb, and cannot but absorb, for a time, every thought and feeling; and the breaking heart finds utterance in the helpless question: “What can I do?” Well, then, in the first place, you can be silent; then you can be patient; and then you can be brave. […]

Be willing to be questioned,—not impertinently questioned, as to family affairs and plans; but as to everything pertaining to your new duties shrink from no questioning, painful as it may and will be. Your accomplishments are not now to be the theme of loving friends and admiring acquaintances, but the means of an honourable independence and of obtaining money. Face the real truth; they are simply to be calculated at trade value; and “the value of a thing is just as much as it will bring.” Do not too confidently say you are sure you can do so and so—you are perfectly equal to that— you are not in the least afraid, and so forth. If you are not afraid, you ought to be with a right fear. Say simply what your education has been, what you believe you most excel in, and your determination to do your best. Far rather risk losing a good situation by stating truthfully only what you can do, than for a moment profess to do what you cannot. […]

Try not to decide as to the merits of your situation until you have been in it for six months. You will give a very different verdict at the end of this time from that which you would have given at the beginning. Do not fill your letters to your friends with accounts which at the end of a year you may wish had never been written. Again and again consider you have all to learn; and the first lesson to you, as to all others, is the most difficult.

Why Write? An Excerpt from Nancy Pagh’s Write Moves

Write Moves

[Nancy Pagh’s new creative writing guide (with readings) is shaped around the idea that creative writing exists to move us. In the excerpt below, from the chapter “Why Write?”, Pagh discusses some of the impulses and experiences that lead creative writers to put words on the page.]

Language That Is Our Own

Creative writers are sometimes stereotyped as sad and solitary figures, but writing is an expression of hope and connection. We need to communicate—to announce we’re here, we exist, we matter. We wouldn’t try to express ourselves if we felt hopeless about the possibility of connection. Even writing in private, just for ourselves, we hope to mean and understand something. No matter what subjects you choose to explore as you push your cursor across the field of the page, understand: as a new writer, you’re not signing up to suffer or to isolate yourself. You’re joining a community of people who write because we hope our words can add up to something that will surprise us, change us, move us and our readers.

The urge to write is a close relative to the urge a sculptor has to dig her hands in clay, the urge of a painter to stretch a canvas and move paint around, the urge of a composer to arrange silences between notes. We experience the urge to write for all sorts of different reasons and at different stages in life. Some of us are storytellers from the moment we can talk—we want to invent narratives before we can grip a yellow pencil. Some begin to write the first time we fall in love. New Mexico poet Jimmy Santiago Baca discovered writing poetry as an adult, in a maximum-security prison, as an alternative to violence. Emily Carr wrote in her journals to understand what she was trying to paint in the forests of British Columbia. Neurologist Oliver Sacks began writing at age fourteen: “My journals are not written for others, nor do I usually look at them myself, but they are a special, indispensable form of talking to myself.” My friend Paul started writing poems in his sixties, after his wife Susan died of cancer. Paul was a professor of philosophy, the author of many scholarly essays about medical ethics. But he felt he needed to say and discover something in his grief; although he’d never written a poem before, poetry was the shape his impressions had to make.

In Raymond Carver’s story “A Small, Good Thing,” a character named Ann experiences shock and grief over her young son. In a hospital, she shakes her head and tries to speak meaningfully with her husband and their doctor:

“No, no,” she said. “I can’t leave him here, no.” She heard herself say that and thought    how unfair it was that the only words that came out were the sort of words used on TV   shows where people were stunned by violent or sudden deaths. She wanted her words to be her own.

How rare it is, and yet how necessary it sometimes feels, to have the ability to use authentic language that is our own. Words surround and interrupt us almost constantly, usually written with the intent to sell, manipulate, or distract us. We learn to tune them out—and when we do listen, it’s with a healthy dose of skepticism. What we say, write, and even think tends to adopt the qualities of this bombarding, synthetic language. But when something really matters to us, we want to get outside the superficiality and sameness of that language, using words to dig someplace deep, explicit, and true. Although it is not “therapy,” creative writing is (in Richard Hugo’s words) “a slow, accumulative way of accepting one’s life as valid.”

Hanging Together from Introducing Philosophy

The following excerpt is from our forthcoming Introducing Philosophy: Knowledge and Reality, which is written by Jack S. Crumley II.

Introducing Philosophy image jpg

When a belief of ours fits with, or “hangs with,” other beliefs, we are no doubt inclined to give greater epistemic weight or credibility to that belief. It is not very difficult to see why. Recall this feature of beliefs: They provide a picture of or a representation of the world. That’s just what it means to talk about the content of a belief—it’s a little bit of information (about the world). Indeed, that’s why theorists are inclined to talk about beliefs as representational. Of course, for various reasons we might have doubts about whether to trust any particular bit of information. We are understandably encouraged to “trust” some particular belief if we find that its particular information fits with other pieces of information—other beliefs—in our possession. The more the belief fits, the greater our trust. A single belief is a bit like a piece of jigsaw puzzle. By itself, a single piece of the puzzle does not make a lot of sense. Yet once we see how the piece fits together with other pieces, once we see the way it interlocks with other pieces, we understand where the piece fits in and why we need it. The pieces “hang together.” Similarly, as some particular belief content fits with more and more other contents—other beliefs—the more inclined we are to trust that first belief. That is, if some bit of “belief information” can be seen as a piece of a larger picture presented by our other beliefs, then we are more inclined to see that belief as epistemically trustworthy.

Ezra Pound on Dubliners

Our edition of Dubliners, edited by Keri Walsh, is now available! We’d like to share an excerpt from Appendix A of our new edition.

For more information on the text, visit our website at broadviewpress.com.
From Ezra Pound, “Dubliners and Mr. James Joyce,” The Egoist (15 July 1914)

Freedom from sloppiness is so rare in contemporary English prose that one might well say simply, “Mr Joyce’s book of short stories is prose free from sloppiness,” and leave the intelligent reader ready to run from his study, immediately to spend three and sixpence on the volume.

Unfortunately, one’s credit as a critic is insufficient to produce this result.

The readers of The Egoist, having had Mr Joyce under their eyes for some months, will scarcely need to have his qualities pointed out to them. Both they and the paper have been very fortunate in his collaboration.

Mr. Joyce writes a clear hard prose. He deals with subjective things, but he presents them with such clarity of outline that he might be dealing with locomotives or with builders’ specifications. For that reason one can read Mr. Joyce without feeling that one is conferring a favour. I must put this thing my own way. I know about 168 authors. About once a year I read something contemporary without feeling that I am softening the path for poor Jones or poor Fulano de Tal.

I can lay down a good piece of French writing and pick up a piece of writing by Mr. Joyce without feeling as if my head were being stuffed through a cushion. There are still impressionists about and I dare say they claim Mr. Joyce. I admire impressionist writers. English prose writers who haven’t got as far as impressionism (that is to say, 95 per cent of English writers of prose and verse) are a bore.

*     *     *     *

Mr. Joyce’s merit, I will not say his chief merit but his most engaging merit, is that he carefully avoids telling you a lot that you don’t want to know. He presents his people swiftly and vividly, he does not sentimentalize over them, he does not weave convolutions. He is a realist. He does not believe “life” would be all right if we stopped vivisection or if we instituted a new sort of “economics.” He gives the thing as it is. He is not bound by the tiresome convention that any part of life, to be interesting, must be shaped into the conventional form of a “story.” Since De Maupassant we have had so many people trying to write ‘stories’ and so few people presenting life. Life for the most part does not happen in neat little diagrams and nothing is more tiresome than the continual pretence that it does.

Mr. Joyce’s “Araby,” for instance, is much better than a “story,” it is a vivid writing.

It is surprising that Mr. Joyce is Irish. One is so tired of the Irish or “Celtic” imagination (or “phantasy” as I think they now call it) flopping about. Mr. Joyce does not flop about. He defines. He is not an institution for the promotion of Irish peasant industries. He accepts an international standard of prose writing and lives up to it.

He gives us Dublin as it presumably is. He does not descend to farce. He does not rely on Dickensian caricature. He gives us things as they are, not only for Dublin, but for every city. Erase the local names and a few specifically local allusions, and a few historic events of the past, and substitute a few different local names, allusions and events, and these stories could be retold of any town.

That is to say, the author is quite capable of dealing with things about him, and dealing directly, yet these details do not engross him, he is capable of getting at the universal element beneath them.


I think that he excels most of the impressionist writers because of his more rigorous selection, because of his exclusion of all unnecessary detail.

There is a very clear demarcation between unnecessary detail and irrelevant detail. An impressionist friend of mine talks to me a good deal about “preparing effects,” and on that score he justifies much unnecessary detail, which is not “irrelevant,” but which ends by being wearisome and by putting one out of conceit with his narrative.

Mr. Joyce’s more rigorous selection of the presented detail marks him, I think, as belonging to my own generation, that is, to “nine-teen-tens,” not to the decade between “the ‘nineties” and to-day.

Lenore Keeshig [Tobias], “Stop Stealing Native Stories”

The following is an excerpt from our recently published Introduction to Indigenous Literary Criticism in Canada, edited by Heather Macfarlane and Armand Garnet Ruffo.

Indigenous Literary Criticism

Lenore Keeshig [Tobias], Anishinaabekwe, was born on Neyaashiinigmiing (the Cape Croker Reserve) on the Saugeen Peninsula in Ontario. An Ojibway journalist, storyteller, poet, children’s author and activist, she is a founding member—along with Daniel David Moses and Tomson Highway—of the influential literary group “The Committee to Reestablish the Trickster,” Keeshig [Tobias] fought actively to promote Indigenous voice and writing throughout the 1980s, and into the 1990s—at a time when many Indigenous writers found themselves shut out of the publishing industry. Keeshig [Tobias] became one of the most influential spokespeople of the appropriation of voice controversy which started in the Writer’s Union of Canada, when she asked non-Natives to “stop stealing Native stories” …

“Stop Stealing Native Stories” appeared in the Globe and Mail in 1990 and is revolutionary for its condemnation of appropriation of voice. The article appeared as part of a larger debate that condemned the critics of those speaking in the voice of others, accusing them of censorship … Overlooked by non-Indigenous critics focusing on the censorship question, the related issues of retention and promotion of Indigenous language and cultural sovereignty are at the heart of Keeshig’s [Tobias] concerns.

Keeshig [Tobias], Lenore. “Stop Stealing Native Stories.” Globe and Mail (26 January 1990): A7.

Stop Stealing Native Stories

Clear the way.
In a sacred manner I come.
The stories are mine!

—Ojibway war song

Critics of non-native writers who borrow from the native experience have been dismissed as advocates of censorship and accused of trying to shackle artistic imagination, but their objections are prompted by something much more.

Where the Spirit Lives may be a bad film. Bone Bird by Calgary novelist Darlene Barry Quaife may oversimplify native spirituality.(1) W.P. Kinsella’s Hobbema stories(2) may be insulting. But the real problem Is that they amount to culture theft, the theft of voice.

Canada’s francophones have a strong and unique voice in North America. Why? Because they have fought to ensure that their language remains intact. Language is the conveyor of culture. It carries the ideas by which a nation defines itself as a people. It gives voice to a nation’s stories, its mythos.

How do Canadians feel about the US mythos defining them and their country? This is quickly becoming a reality, I fear, because Canadians have been too quick to hand over their voice and their stories to Americans.

Stories, you see, are not just entertainment. Stories are power. They reflect the deepest, the most intimate perceptions, relationships and attitudes of a people. Stories show how a people, a culture, thinks. Such wonderful offerings are seldom reproduced by outsiders.

This is the root of the problem with Where the Spirit Lives, which deals with the treatment of native students in government-sponsored residential schools during the 1930s. The film has been shown on the CBC and TVOntario and as part of Canada Day at the recent festival in Palm Springs, Calif.(3)

So what is it all about, anyway? In the end, a little Indian girl and her brother ride off into the vast, uninhabited wilderness (Anne Shirley goes west?). They ride right out of the sentimentalized Canadian consciousness—stoic child warriors noble in defeat, marching home with Bible in hand. (A book of truth, perhaps, but whose?)

Native people were not involved in any creative aspect of the film. Their voice was heard only through cultural consultants hired to provide the nuances and insights lacked by the movie’s writer and producers.

Cultural insight, nuance, metaphor and symbols give a book or film the ring of truth, but their essence—the thing that gives stories universal appeal, that allows true empathy and shared emotion—is missing from Where the Spirit Lives, as it is from most “native” writing by non-natives.

Canadians all too often use native stories, symbols and history to sell things—cars, tobacco or movies. But why hasn’t Basil Johnston’s Indian School Days become a bestseller? Why hasn’t Half Breed by Marla Campbell been reprinted?(4) (Why, for that matter, has Ms Campbell, as one of Canada’s “celebrated” authors, never received a writer’s grant?)

Where the Spirit Lives, after having squeezed out the native version of what happened in the residential schools, turns around and tells natives to make their own movies. How can we? Even if we had access to financial backers, they would say: “Residential schools? It’s been done.”

With native people struggling for justice with land claims and in education, what makes Canadians think they have equality in the film industry? In publishing? With agencies that make arts grants? In the arts themselves?

Instead, the Canadian cultural industry is stealing—unconsciously, perhaps, but with the same devastating results—native stories as surely as the missionaries stole our religion and the politicians stole our land and the residential schools stole our language. As Leslie Marmon Silko writes in Ceremony,(5) stories “are all we have, you see—all we have to fight off illness and death.” As a storyteller I was once advised by an elder that there is a season for storytelling—winter. “Blackflies, mosquitoes and other creatures like those stories,” she cautioned.

How quaint, I thought. Nonetheless, I respected her advice and, as time went on, I began to understand it. If storytellers sit around all summer telling stories, then surely they’ll become the feast of blackflies and mosquitoes. My elder was telling me that these stories are meant for certain ears only—and native ears.

So potent are stories that, in native culture, one storyteller cannot tell another’s story without permission.

But why are Canadians so obsessed with native stories anyway? Why the urge to “write Indian”? Have Canadians run out of stories of their own? Or are their renderings just nostalgia for a simpler, more “at one with nature” stage of human development? There’s a cliché for you.

Maybe Canadian stories about native people are some form of exorcism. Are they trying to atone for the horrible reality or native-Canadian relations? Or maybe they just know a good story when they find one and are willing to take it, without permission, just as archaeologists used to rob our graves for museums.

What about the quest for native spirituality? It is mostly escapist, and people such as Ms. Quaife would rather look to an ideal native living in never-never land than confront the reality of what being native means in Canadian society.

For example, residential-school survivors tell of children being forced to eat their own vomit when their stomachs could no longer hold down the sour porridge. They tell of broken knuckles from fingers being rapped. Some even tell of having pins stuck through their tongues as punishment for speaking their own language. (Now, that’s censorship.)
And what about the teacher who was removed from one residential school for abusing children? He was simply sent to another, more remote school.

It’s not that these stories have never been told; Canadians just haven’t heard them. Nor does it mean our writers and storytellers are incompetent and inexperienced, as Mr. Kinsella seems to suggest.
It means our voices have been marginalized. Imagine, Canadians telling native stories because their government outlawed native languages, native culture.

However, as Ms Campbell said on CBC Radio’s Morningside, “If you want to write our stories, then be prepared to live with us.” And not just for a few months.

Hear the voices of the wilderness. Be there with the Lubicon, the Innu. Be there with the Teme-Augama Anishnabi on the Red Squirrel Road. The Saugeen Ojibway. If you want these stories, fight for them. I dare you.

(1)Darlene Barry Quaife, Bone Bird (Turnstone P, 1989), winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book.
(2)William Patrick (W.P.) Kinsella is the prolific and controversial author of what he calls his “Indian stories,” set on the Hobbema Reserve in central Alberta. These books include Dance Me Outside (1977), also a feature film, The Fencepost Chronicles, winner of the 1987 Stephen Leacock Medal, Brother Frank’s Gospel Hour (1994), and The Secret of the Northern Lights (1998).
(3)Where the Spirit Lives is a dramatic film about Aboriginal children in Canada residential schools. Written by Keith Ross Leckie and directed by Bruce Pittman, it aired on CBC Television in 1989 and released in the USA in 1990. It was screened at numerous film festivals, including the Palms Springs International Film Festival.
(4)Maria Campbell, Halfbreed (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1973).
(5)Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (New York: Viking Penguin, 1977).

Tekahionwake on Indigenous Representation in 19th C Fiction

Here is an excerpt from our appendices of the recently published Tekahionwake: E. Pauline Johnson’s Writings on Native North America.

A Strong Race Opinion: On the Indian Girl In Modern Fiction

[In this essay, Johnson attacks dominant stereotype of the “Indian maiden” and argues that writers should try to find out about real Indigenous people, rather than simply repeat the usual platitudes and phrases. Her references reveal her wide knowledge of Indigenous activism and of works about and by Native Americans published on both sides of the border. This essay was first published in the Toronto Sunday Globe on 22 May 1892.]

Every race in the world enjoys its own peculiar characteristics, but it scarcely follows that every individual of a nation must possess these prescribed singularities, or otherwise forfeit in the eyes of the world their nationality. Individual personality is one of the most charming things to be met with, either in a flesh and blood existence, or upon the pages of fiction, and it matters little to what race an author’s heroine belongs, if he makes her character distinct, unique and natural.

The American book heroine of today is vari-coloured as to personality and action. The author does not consider it necessary to the development of her character, and the plot of the story to insist upon her having American-coloured eyes, an American carriage, an American voice, American motives, and an American mode of dying; he allows her to evolve an individuality ungoverned by nationalisms — but the outcome of impulse and nature and a general womanishness.

Not so the Indian girl in modern fiction, the author permits her character no such spontaneity, she must not be one of womankind at large, neither must she have an originality, a singularity that is not definitely ‘Indian.’ I quote ‘Indian’ as there seems to be an impression amongst authors that such a thing as tribal distinction does not exist among the North American aborigines.

The term ‘Indian’ signifies about as much as the term ‘European,’ but I cannot recall ever having read a story where the heroine was described as ‘a European.’ The Indian girl we meet in cold type, however, is rarely distressed by having to belong to any tribe, or to reflect any tribal characteristics. She is merely a wholesome sort of mixture of any band existing between the Mic Macs of Gaspe and the Kwaw-Kewlths[1] of British Columbia, yet strange to say, that notwithstanding the numerous tribes, with their aggregate numbers reaching more than 122,000 souls in Canada alone, our Canadian authors can cull from this huge revenue of character, but one Indian girl, and stranger still that this lonely little heroine never had a prototype in breathing flesh-and-blood existence!

It is a deplorable fact, but there is only one of her. The story-writer who can create a new kind of Indian girl, or better still portray a ‘real live’ Indian girl who will do something in Canadian literature that has never been done, but once. The general author gives the reader the impression that he has concocted the plot, created his characters, arranged his action, and at the last moment has been seized with the idea that the regulation Indian maiden will make a very harmonious background whereon to paint his pen picture, that, he, never having met this interesting individual, stretches forth his hand to his library shelves, grasps the first Canadian novelist he sees, reads up his subject, and duplicates it in his own work.

After a half dozen writers have done this, the reader might as well leave the tale unread as far as the interest touches upon the Indian character, for an unvarying experience tells him that this convenient personage will repeat herself with monotonous accuracy. He knows what she did and how she died in other romances by other romancers, and she will do and die likewise in his (she always does die, and one feels relieved that it is so, for she is too unhealthy and too unnatural to live).

The rendition of herself and her doings gains no variety in the pens of manifold authors, and the last thing that they will ever think of will be to study The Indian Girl’ from life, for the being we read of is the offspring of the writer’s imagination and never existed outside the book covers that her name decorates. Yes, there is only one of her, and her name is ‘Winona.’[2] Once or twice she has borne another appellation, but it always has a ‘Winona’ sound about it. Even Charles Mair, in that masterpiece of Canadian-Indian romances, ‘Tecumseh,’ could not resist ‘Winona.’[3] We meet her as a Shawnee, as a Sioux, as a Huron, and then, her tribe unnamed, in the vicinity of Brockville.

She is never dignified by being permitted to own a surname, although, extraordinary to note, her father is always a chief, and had he ever existed, would doubtless have been as conservative as his contemporaries about the usual significance that his people attach to family name and lineage.

In addition to this most glaring error this surnameless creation is possessed with a suicidal mania. Her unhappy, self-sacrificing life becomes such a burden to both herself and the author that this is the only means by which they can extricate themselves from a lamentable tangle, though, as a matter of fact suicide is an evil positively unknown among Indians. To-day there may be rare instances where a man crazed by liquor might destroy his own life, but in the periods from whence ‘Winona’s’ character is sketched self-destruction was unheard of. This seems to be a fallacy which the best American writers have fallen a prey to. Even Helen Hunt Jackson, in her powerful and beautiful romance of ‘Ramona,’[4] has weakened her work deplorably by having no less than three Indians suicide while maddened by their national wrongs and personal grief. […]

[1] Mic Macs, from eastern Canada now refer to themselves as Mi’kmaq; often the west coast nations that form the Kwakwaka’wakw were referred to by the name of one of them, the Kwakiutl or Kwagulth, which Johnson does here.

[2] Winona is the name the Lakota (Sioux) traditionally gave to their first-born daughters; the name was popularized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha, where Hiawatha’s mother is named Winona.

[3] Charles Mair (1838-1927). Tecumseh: A Drama (Toronto: Hunter, Rose, 1886).

[4] Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) was inspired by the Ponca activist, Standing Bear (c. 1829-1908) to take on the Native American cause. Ramona (1884), which described the mistreatment of the Native Americans of Southern California by the federal government, became a bestseller.

Professionalization within/beyond Academia

At the recent ACCUTE conference in Calgary, our English editor, Marjorie Mather, gave a talk about publishing as a career for graduate students.  A condensed version of her talk follows.

I want to begin by saying that my comments on publishing are based on my own experience at Broadview Press, a single independent, Canadian, academic publisher. My advice may not apply to all kinds of publishing careers, but I hope that it will still be useful!

Broadview is an academic publisher in the Humanities. We publish editions, anthologies, and textbooks in English, Philosophy and History. Our publishing is primarily for course adoptions; we don’t publish new fiction or poetry, and our books have a small general readership, though they are often read by scholars as well as students. We also publish very few truly scholarly books, such as original monographs or hardcover editions intended for libraries.

Broadview currently employs 29 people across Canada in editorial, permissions, production, sales and marketing, distribution, and accounts. The majority of our hires in editorial, sales, and marketing have Master’s degrees, but we also hire people with Bachelor’s degrees (like me!) and PhDs, as well as a few people who began doctorates but then decided to leave academia.

Our editorial hires are primarily for acquiring and managing editor positions, as our copy-editing and proofreading are done by freelance academic editors. We also have one full-time and two part-time developmental editors on staff; they write content for our books and companion websites and also do more substantive editing work where needed. Our acquiring and assistant editors do market research, review book proposals, contact potential authors, and work with our production team to manage books as they go through production.

Though many bookish people focus on editorial positions when they think about a career in publishing, you might want to consider other aspects of the industry, such as book production or sales and marketing. These jobs can be rewarding, and they provide a lot of opportunities to engage with and talk about books. They can also be a good way to get a feel for the industry.

From Academia to Publishing: Transferable Skills

What academic skills and experience are especially transferable to publishing?

  1. This might be obvious, but academic knowledge. A broad understanding of an academic discipline—being able to identify key scholars, exciting new ideas, and recent scholarly trends—is a real asset.
  1. Research. Research is extremely important to editorial work, but also to sales and marketing jobs. If you are creative, persistent, and smart about finding information, it can give you an advantage in publishing, where you might need to track down an elusive potential author, the copyright holder of an obscure work, or a professor who might adopt our books but is never in her office.
  1. Interpersonal skills. How do you take criticism? Can you give constructive feedback to others and express yourself in a clear and diplomatic way? Can you adapt to new situations and ideas? These are all skills that graduate seminars, and working with peers and with a supervisor, can teach. Publishing is a collaborative industry, and this kind of experience is valuable.

When applying for a job, it helps to emphasize these skills along with your research achievements —this makes it easier for us to see how your hard work in graduate school can translate into a job in publishing. I have mixed feelings about résumés that emphasize skills at the expense of biographical facts, but your cover letter is a good place to tell a story about how your experience contributed to your skills. I’ll also note that a passion for literature and love of reading are wonderful things, but not unique assets in this field!

What academic skills and attitudes might be less relevant to a publishing career?

  1. Working independently. Graduate study can be collaborative and co-operative, but it can also be competitive and sometimes isolating. Shifting gears from a focus on your own research goals to the shared goals of a company can be a challenge. When working in publishing it will also be necessary to ask for help and to constantly rely on others’ skills and knowledge. In my experience, this is true of senior employees as well as those at the entry level.
  1. Investment in your own scholarly project or interest. We often need to separate the inherent value of a book or text from its marketability. All of us at Broadview get excited about works that have intriguing subject matter or are important to literary history—many of the successful works in the Broadview Editions series fall into these categories. But we have to remember that this excitement doesn’t always translate into course adoptions, and we sometimes have to let go of our personal attachment to a project that might not be marketable.
  1. Writing for a scholarly audience. At Broadview, most of the writing we do is professional: interoffice emails, memos, editorial board packages, and sales emails. Our developmental editors write for a student audience, drafting author headnotes and other apparatus. Editors create marketing copy for catalogues and the website, and our marketing team sends newsletters and posts on social media. It can be tough to adapt to these different audiences after years of writing scholarly papers and grant proposals. Practicing in some non-academic styles can keep your writing muscles limber; writing blog posts, crafting informal presentations, and even creative writing can make it easier to shift out of the scholarly voice later.

Do You Want to Work in Publishing?

Academic publishing is a highly collaborative, complex, and often fast-paced business. If your fantasy is of working with manuscripts and exploring texts in depth, the career may not be what you expect. For many of us the job involves a lot of meetings, a lot of spreadsheets, and a lot of business travel. It can also be limiting in terms of geography, with many Canadian publishers (but not all!) based in the Toronto area.

But it can also be an extremely engaging and varied career—there are always surprises and unexpected challenges. There is often room for professional growth and upward mobility within a company (I started as a temporary email sales rep, as did many other full-time staff members). I have been with Broadview for 12 years and can honestly say that I learn new things almost every day—about the business and the industry as well as about the fields in which we publish. I also work with smart, collegial, amazing people: colleagues, authors, and other publishers. I hope that you all go on to the academic jobs of your dreams, but if you are thinking of another path, academic publishing can be a great way to use skills acquired in graduate study.

Copyright in Canada: The Damage Caused by Unfair Interpretations of “Fair Use”

Originally published in The Hill Times on Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A significant part of the debate about copyright in Canada is over the question of whether authors and publishers are in fact being hurt by educational institutions refusing to compensate them for the use of copyrighted material.

The background here needs to be filled in. Many Canadian universities have interpreted a 2012 Canadian Supreme Court “fair use” ruling (regarding the use of “short excerpts” in classrooms) to mean that copyrighted works such as poems, short stories, and plays may be used in photocopied or digital coursepacks for students, without any compensation being paid to authors or publishers (provided each work is copied from a text or collection in which it comprises no more than 10% of the whole); instructors are thus encouraged to assemble their own entire anthologies for use in their classes—again, with no compensation whatsoever provided to the authors or copyright holders.

The extent of the damage caused by this interpretation of the law by educational institutions shouldn’t be exaggerated; the financial health of authors and publishers in Canada is not, of course, entirely dependent on payments for use of copyrighted material. But is the change hurting Canadian authors and publishers? There can be no question about that.

Let me provide some detail so far as Broadview Press is concerned. Although we at Broadview have managed to make at least a tiny profit in each of the years since 2012, in most of those years it’s been in the range of $50,000-$100,000—and we estimate the effect for us will be at least $100,000 annually if the universities’ interpretation of the Court’s decision (involving what seems to us to be an egregious distortion by Canadian universities of the meaning of the words “short excerpts”) becomes universal across Canada. Already we estimate we are damaged to the tune of at least $50,000 annually by this interpretation having become as widespread as it has.

Thus far we have continued to publish 40-45 titles per year, and we will certainly remain in business for the foreseeable future. The danger is not that we will disappear as a publisher, but that our publishing program will become far smaller, far less interesting, and far less culturally significant. If we do receive reasonable compensation (whether in the form of a per copy fee or an overarching per student fee for all coursepack and related uses), we can continue to justify publishing culturally valuable but commercially iffy collections such as Native Poetry in Canada and Introduction to Indigenous Literary Criticism in Canada—as we would certainly like to do! (We also like to keep prices very reasonable–unlike some other publishers of post-secondary textbooks, sad to say.) But if we receive no compensation whatsoever, we simply can’t continue to publish books of that sort; we cannot work for free. In that case we will simply have to focus more on publishing introductory composition texts and introductory logic texts that are less susceptible to being pillaged for “short excerpts.” Such books are, I think it’s fair to say, on average of less cultural value. But if the only way we can pay the bills is by publishing a steady diet of books of that sort, I’m sure that’s what we’ll do.

I should also make clear that we are not the sort of press that regards any and every protection of copyright or extension of copyright as being in the public interest. Another vitally important copyright issue on the table now in Canada is the Trans Pacific Partnership; if that agreement is ratified, copyright restrictions in Canada will go from 50 years after the death of the author (already too long, in my opinion) to a full 70 years after the death of the author, thereby preventing for an additional generation the publication of competing editions of literary classics—editions that can often be of immense cultural and pedagogical value.

Finding an appropriate balance in copyright issues is not easy. But in one direction it is surely unfair to simply not compensate authors and publishers of copyrighted material that is used to put together what are, in effect, entire textbooks. And in the other direction it is surely not fair to make it impossible to publish competing editions of century-old works, so that an author’s great grandchildren (or a corporation such as Disney, if copyright is held by an organization) can still retain an exclusive hold on all publication rights of a work that should have long ago entered the public domain.

Don LePan
CEO and Company Founder, Broadview Press

The Paradox of the Heap, from John L. Bell’s Oppositions and Paradoxes

In Oppositions and Paradoxes John L. Bell explores a variety of mathematical and scientific paradoxes with philosophical precision, while retaining a great sense of humour in his investigations. In this excerpt, Bell formulates and works through “The Problem of the Heap,” asking: how many grains of sand does one need to make a heap, exactly?

The paradox of the heap or sorites paradox (from the Greek sōritēs “heap”)—attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Eubulides of Miletus—arises from the vagueness of certain predicates in ordinary language. In a typical formulation, we consider a heap of sand, from which grains are removed one by one. The paradox arises when one considers what happens when the process is repeated sufficiently many times. For suppose we make the natural assumption that, if we remove a single grain from a heap, we are still left with a heap. Then eventually just a single grain remains: is it still a heap? Or are even no grains at all a heap? If not, when did the heap change into to a non-heap?

We can turn the paradox on its head by starting with a totally bald man, and, noting that any man with just one more hair than a bald man is still bald, conclude that every man must be bald. For a man with no hair is bald, so a man with just one hair is bald, and thus a man with two hairs is bald, … whence a man with any number of hairs is bald.

A related formulation of the paradox is to suppose given a set of coloured chips such that the variation in colour of two adjacent chips is too small—a difference in wavelength of 1 nanometre say—for the human eye to be able to distinguish between them. Suppose that the first chip is coloured violet, which has a wavelength of about 400 nanometres, and the last chip is coloured red, with a wavelength of 650 nanometres. If we assume, as in the case of the bald man, that a chip whose colour differs in wavelength by one nanometre from a violet coloured chip would still be seen as violet, then the ‘bald man’ argument leads to the conclusion that the red chip would also have to be seen as violet.

The paradox can be reconstructed for a variety of predicates—all of which can be seen to be vague—for example, with “short,” “poor,” “young,” “red,” and so on.

A natural response to the paradox is to introduce a “fixed boundary” to the concept of heap by defining a “heap” to be a set of grains containing at least a certain fixed number—10000, say—of grains. In that case, a set of 9999 grains is not a heap but one of 10000 is. This seems unnatural since there would appear to be little significance to the difference between 9999 grains and 10000 grains. Wherever the boundary is set, it remains arbitrary. A more acceptable, if radical solution would be to call any collection of two or more a heap!

The paradox can be given a striking formulation by generalizing the colour example above. Suppose that we have a set S of things—colours, collections of grains of sand, people—on which is defined arelation I which we shall call indistinguishability. So for two elements a and b of S, a and b will be in the relation I—which we write as aIb—if and only if a is indistinguishable from b. We shall suppose that I is reflexive—for any a, aIa—and symmetric—for any a, b, aIb if and only if bIa. Let us call a property (or predicate) P defined on S vague if it is preserved under indistinguishability, that is, if aIb and P(a) then P(b) (in words: anything indistinguishable from something with the property P also has the property P). Let us say that two elements a, b of S are connected if there is a sequence a0, …, an of elements of S such that a0 = a, an = b and, for each i, ai,Iaii+1. Call S connected if each pair of elements of S are connected.

Suppose now that S is connected. Then, for any vague property P on S, if some element of S has P, then every element of S has P. To see this, suppose that a is an element of S such that a has the property P—we write this as P(a)—and let b be an arbitrary element of S. Then since S is connected, there is a sequence a0, …, an of elements of S such that a0 = a, an = b and, for each i, ai,Iaii+1. Now since P(a), i.e., P(a0) and a0Iai1, it follows from the vagueness of P that P(a1). From this it follows similarly that P(a2), whence P(a3) and so on. Finally we obtain P(an), i.e., P(b). Since b was arbitrary, we conclude that every element of S has P.

From this we infer that a vague property either applies to everything, or it applies to nothing. For example, consider the case of the vague predicate “bald” or better, baldish. Here S is the set of (heads of) men and I is the relation of differing by at most one hair. Then, if there is at least one baldish man, all men are baldish—including Brad Pitt. If, on the other hand, there is at least one nonbaldish man, then all men are nonbaldish—including Bruce Willis.