• Throwback Thursday: Alexander Pushkin, The "Mozart of Literature"

    Kiprensky_PushkinWhen one thinks of acclaimed writers of the past, few on the western side of the hemisphere would be able to come up with the name of the Russian Romantic poet, Alexander Pushkin. But in Russia, Pushkin is revered as the poet of “Everyman,” expressing the whole of Russian heritage in many of his esteemed masterpieces, such as the poem The Bronze Horseman or his only novel, Eugene Onegin.

    Due to few adequate translations, Pushkin remains shrouded in mystery despite his poems having the same exemplary craftsmanship recognized in Shakespeare’s sonnets and Keats’ love poems. But his cult in present-day Russia also didn't used to exist. In a disconnected country, viewed as “backward” by the western half of Europe, Pushkin already stood little chance of making an impression when the rest of the world was on to the next writing fad of the 19th century. He was also, for the most part, ignored in Russia, as his “pure poetry” was not radical enough after the Decembrist revolt of 1825, which gave birth to a school of writing about the moral and political issues of the time. It wasn't until Dostoevsky’s celebrated eulogy of him during the erection of a Pushkin monument in Moscow in 1880 that Pushkin became the representative poet of the Russian people.

    Discover the full story of the rise and fall of Pushkin’s reputation as a writer and why the article's author,  A.F.B. Clark, thinks Pushkin is the "Mozart of literature" in “Alexander Sergeyevitch Pushkin,” which appeared in the 1937 edition of the University of Toronto Quarterly.

  • Reshaping the Canadian Landscape

    It is hard to imagine Canada today without some of its most iconic agricultural landscapes; wheat and soy fields that sweep across the prairies, fruit orchards laden with fruit for domestic use and export, the famous PEI potato farms, and more recently, vineyards that are making world-class wines. Likewise, it is difficult to image this country with the dog as its only domesticated animal, especially with pork being one of our top exported agricultural goods.

    With Canada today such an agricultural power house, exporting $40.303 billion in 2011 alone, it is sometimes surprising to think that most of these plants and animals didn't exist in our country or on this continent before the arrival of European settlers. The exchange of natural materials from previously isolated areas is known as The Columbian Exchange. The term was coined by Alfred W. Crosby in his book The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492, published by Greenwood Publishing Group in 1972, and while Crosby explored this idea in ground breaking ways, he was not the first to examine the historical record for instances of these kinds of exchanges and their consequences.


    Appearing in the Canadian Historical Review vol 16, no 4 (1935), The First Introduction of European Plants and Animals into Canada examines how and when plants and animals were brought to Canada from Europe and the nature of their use.

  • Throwback Thursday: The Evolution of Mystery


    In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the mystery genre was the dominant literary genre. The “whodunit” motif found in stories by authors such as Dorothy Sayers, Freeman Wills Crofts, and Agatha Christie gripped and excited readers, creating suspense that engaged their audience. However, over time a drastic shift in the composition of mystery novels has occurred.

    In the University of Toronto Quarterly article, “Elementary, My Dear Watson” by Graham McInnes, the author shares that mystery in the 40s and 50s demanded that “terror is illumined by the knowledge of some horrible threat which is portrayed through cynical adult thought, morals and emotions, and no confusion about standardized right and wrong.”

    Mystery maintains its popularity today, but exposure to violent realities renders this suspense-inducing model ineffective. Today, the division between right and wrong is blurred and the morality of characters is often called into question. McInnes claims that mystery novels “represent, above all, the violence and confused moral values which are the image of our time.”

    Do you think this holds true today? What does McInnes claim say about society in the 21st century?  Tweet us your opinion @utpjournals.

  • Throwback Thursday: The Canadian Historical Association’s 1928 Annual Meeting

    George_W_BrownThe Canadian Historical Association is a bilingual not-for-profit charitable organization devoted to fostering the scholarly study and communication of Canadian history.  Founded in 1922, the CHA has emerged as a leader in the maintenance and study of Canada’s archives. However, it took many years of dedication and hard-work in order to establish the prestigious reputation that the CHA maintains today. Take a look at George W. Brown’s account of the 1928 Canadian Historical Associations Annual Meeting, published in The Canadian Historical Review, in which Brown predicted that the organization and determination of the association would lead to rapid expansion.

  • Throwback Thursday: The Letters of George Bernard Shaw


    The Shaw Festival has established a tradition that ensures that the brilliance of George Bernard Shaw’s plays is never forgotten. However, many do not know that Shaw was also a prolific letter writer. Prior to becoming a husband and establishing himself as a leader in English theatre, Shaw had composed an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 letters. The majority were addressed to the women with whom he was engaged in romantic relationships, as well as to close friends. The subject matter of these letters is vast, including flirtatious messages, analyses of Ibsen, and confessions of Shaw’s love for the theatre and his determination to revolutionize theatre practices.


    To explore the letters of George Bernard Shaw, read “Shaw’s Collected Letters” by Charles A. Carpenter from the 1966 edition of Modern Drama.

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