Gregory Betts


Office: GLA 131
905 688 5550  x5318

Undergraduate Officer, Department of English Language & Literature (2023-present)
Associate Director, Social Justice Research Institute (2021-2023)
President, Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (2020-2022)
Craig Dobbin Chair of Canadian Studies, University College Dublin (2018-2019)
Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence (2014-2017)
PhD, York University (2005)

Teaching Areas: Canadian Modernism, Indigenous Literatures, Avant-garde and Experimental Literature

In my research and teaching, I explore the representation of revolution, insurrection, dislocation, and linguistic error in Canadian and Indigenous literature. I am interested in the use of imported avant-garde techniques by Canadian writers, and the invention of new approaches to writing by the same. This approach addresses the movement of culture, especially across borders, and the ultimate or intended impact of new cultural forms. My first SSHRC-funded monograph, Avant-Garde Canadian Literature: The Early Manifestations (University of Toronto Press 2013), documented diverse examples of the kind up until the 1960s.

My next SSHRC-funded research monograph, Finding Nothing: The VanGardes, 1959-1975, explores subsequent manifestations of intermedia avant-garde art and literature in Vancouver. Working with two of my doctoral students (Andrew McEwan and Julia Polyck-O’Neill), we organized a conference called “The Concept of Vancouver”, which developed into a special issue of the journal Canadian Literature. The book was awarded the Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia and the Gabrielle Roy Prize, which honours the best work of scholarship on literature produced in Canada.

My archival research ends up uncovering various lost literary treasures. Consequently, I have become heavily involved in editing and publishing critical and scholarly editions of overlooked or under-imagined experimental texts. My most recent example of this is a critical edition of They Have Bodies by Barney Allen (published by University of Ottawa Press, 2020), Canada’s first avant-garde novel that was instantly censored by city police and disappeared completely until this edition.

Recently, I have been awarded another SSHRC Insight Grant to produce a monograph on the Canadian avant-garde poet bpNichol. This work will result in a book, a symposium, and an update for the Digital Archive that I curate.

Finding Nothing: The VanGardes, 1959-1975. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2021. 392 p.

  • Winner of the 2022 Basil-Stuart Stubbs Book Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia
  • Winner of the 2022 Gabrielle-Roy Prize

Avant-Garde Canadian Literature: The Early Manifestations. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013. 328 p.

  • Short-listed Finalist for the 2014 Gabrielle-Roy Prize

Editor and Introduction. They Have Bodies: A Realistic Novel in Five Acts. By Barney Allen. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2020.

Co-Editor and Introduction with Christian Bök. Avant Canada: Artists, Prophets, Revolutionaries. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2019.

Editor and Introduction. Space Between Her Lips: The Selected Poetry of Margaret Christakos. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2017.

Co-Editor and Introduction with Paul Hjartarson and Kristine Smitka. Counterblasting Canada: Into the Social and Intellectual Vortex of Marshall McLuhan, Wyndham Lewis, Sheila Watson, and Wilfred Watson. University of Alberta Press, 2016.

Co-Editor and Afterword with Derek Beaulieu. RUSH: What Fuckan Theory; A Study uv Langwage. By bill bissett. Toronto: BookThug, 2012.

Editor and Introduction. The Wrong World: Bertram Brooker’s Stories and Essays. Ottawa: The University of Ottawa Press, 2009.

Editor and Introduction. Lawren Harris In the Ward: His Poetry and Painting. Toronto: Exile Editions, 2007. Second edition modified to Contrasts: Lawren Harris In the Ward: A Book of Poetry and Paintings, 2012.

Editor and Introduction. After Exile: A Raymond Knister Poetry Reader. Toronto: Exile Editions, 2003. Second edition 2012.

Assistant Editor. W.W.E. Ross: Irrealities, Sonnets & Laconics. Editor Barry Callaghan. Toronto: Exile Editions, 2003.

ESC: English Studies in Canada. Special Issue: “Kinetic Archives.” Co-edited with Linda Morra. In progress.

Canadian Literature. Special Issue: “Concepts of Vancouver: Poetics, Art, Media.” Co-edited with Julia Polyck-O’Neill. 235 (Winter 2017).

Belfield Literary Review. A Special Issue on “New Trans-Atlantic Dialogues.” Co-edited with Lucy Collins. 1 (Summer 2021).

Jacket2. A Special Feature on “Avant Canada: On the Canadian avant-garde.” Co-edited and Introduction with Katie Price.

Open Letter. A Special Issue on Surrealism in Canada. Co-edited with Beatriz Hausner. 15.3 (Summer 2013).

Open Letter. A Special Issue on the Kootenay School of Writing. Co-edited with Robert Stacey. 14.3 (Summer 2010).

The Fabulous Op. Co-written with Gary Barwin. Dublin: Beir Bua Press, 2022.

Foundry. Achill Island: RedFoxPress, 2021.

Dazzle Pods. With Art by Catherine Heard. Arts + Letters Press, Toronto, 2021

Sweet Forme: Shake-Speare’s Perfect Sonnets. Sidney, Australia: Apothecary Press, 2020. First edition sold-out. Second edition 2020.

Boycott. Los Angeles: Make Now Press, 2014.

This is Importance: A Students’ Guide to Literature. Hamilton: Wolsak and Wynn, 2013.

The Obvious Flap. Co-written with Gary Barwin. Toronto: BookThug, 2011.

Psychic Geographies and Other Topics. Toronto: Quattro Press, 2010.

The Others Raisd in Me. Toronto: Pedlar Press, 2009. Reprinted 2011.

Haikube. Produced in collaboration with Matt Donovan and Hallie Siegal. Toronto: BookThug, 2006.

If Language. Toronto: BookThug, 2005. Reprinted 2008.

“From TISH to HITS: Some Grateful Contexts for the Trips Festival in Vancouver 1966.” Chapbook. Calgary: No Press, 2018.

“Seeing Visual Poetry in Canada as Decolonial Poesis.” Utsanga. 9 (January 2018).

“In Search of Blew: An Eventual Index of Blewointment Magazine 1963-1977.” Chapbook. Among the Neighbors. 2 (Fall 2016). 1-39.

“When Out in Front Gets Left Behind: Sol Allen’s They Have Bodies and Canada’s Archived Avant-Garde.” Making Canada New: Editing, Modernism, and New Media. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017. 265-284.

“Not Against Expression: NourbeSe’s Zong!Jacket2. North of Invention Special Issue. 29 March 2013.

“The New Canadian Vortex: Marshall McLuhan and the Avant-Garde Function of Counter-Environments.” Counterblasting Canada: Marshall McLuhan, Wyndham Lewis, Wilfred Watson, and Sheila Watson. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2016.

“Modernist Literature in North America.” The Modernist World. Ed. Stephen Ross and Allana C. Lindgren. New York: Routledge, 2015. 538-546.  

““we stopped at nothing”: Finding Nothing in the Avant-Garde Archive.” Amodern. 4 (2015). Web.

“I Object: Writing Against the Contemporary.” English Studies in Canada. 40.2-3 (June/September 2014). 41-64.

“Dialogic Phantasy in Bruce McDonald’s Adaptive Narratives.” Double-Takes: Intersections Between Canadian Literature and Film. Ed. David R. Jarraway. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2013. 95-109.

“The Transnational Agenda of Lewis and Pound’s Avant-Garde.” Literature, Geography, Translation: Studies in World Writing. Ed. Cecilia Alvstad, Stefan Helgesson, and David Watson. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011. 209-220.

“Copy Paste Publish: On Appropriation.” Co-written equally with Derek Beaulieu. Canadian Literature. 210-211 (Autumn/Winter 2011). 254-259.

Preface. A Critical Anthology of English-Canadian Verse in the Times of Sir Wilfred Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King (1896-1911 and 1921-1947): The Sunny Way. Ed. Al Kizuk. New York: Edwin Mellon, 2011.

“From Wit to Plunder in a Time of War.” The Poetic Front. 3 (2010).

“A Postmodern Decadence in Canadian Sound and Visual Poetry.” Re:Reading the Postmodern. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2010. 151-179.

“Just Playing Mad: Irrationalism in Automatism via Claude Gauvreau.” The Brock Review. 10. (2009). 10-25.“Non compos mentis: A Meta-Historical Survey of the Historiographic Narratives of Louis Riel’s ‘Insanity’”. International Journal of Canadian Studies. 40 (Spring 2009).

“Media, McLuhan, and the Dawn of the Electric Age in Sheila Watson’s Deep Hollow Creek and The Double Hook.”  Essays in Canadian Writing. 84 (Winter 2008).

“The Revolutionary Other: A Resistance Strategy by Lamming, Selvon, and Brand for the Caribbean and its Diaspora.” Diasporic Ruptures: Globality, Migrancy, and Expressions of Identity. Ed. Alireza Asgharzadeh, Erica Lawson, Kayleen U. Oka, and Amar Wahab. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2007. 125-144.

I am the curator of the Digital Archive, a co-investigator of the SSHRC-funded SpokenWeb research partnership, and a founding co-applicant of the SSHRC-funded Editing Modernism in Canada Strategic Knowledge Cluster. I also sit on the Fulbright National Adjudication Committee, the Aid to Scholarly Publication Program Adjudication Committee, and the Faculty Steering Committee of the Social Justice Research Institute at Brock. Finally, I am a poet with seven books out, including the forthcoming Sweet Forme: Shake-Speare’s Perfect Sonnets, which are a series of digital sonic translations of Shakespeare’s 1609 sonnet collection. The book will be published by Apothecary Archive Press in Australia in summer 2020.

I welcome undertaking student supervisions on topics in Canadian and avant-garde literature, archives and theories of information, cross-border comparative studies, modernism, Indigenous literatures, and intermedial studies of adaptations.

Current and Forthcoming Titles