Neil Kalman Besner

An Inventory of His Papers at the University of Manitoba

Inventory prepared by Ian Keenan and Vladimira Zvonik
University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections,
Winnipeg, Manitoba
(2006, 2007)

Finding aid encoded by Vladimira Zvonik (2007)
Finding aid written in English.


Table of Contents

Collection Summary

Biography of Neil Kalman Besner

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Restrictions on Access

Custodial History

Detailed Description of the Collection

A.05-45 - Personal, 1983-2005

Rare and Commonplace Flowers, translated by Neil Besner, 1994, 1998-1999, 2002, n.d.

Uncommon Wealth: An Anthology of Poetry in English, 1994-1997

Prairie Fire issue and Carol Shields: The Arts of a Writing Life, 1994-2002

Unpublished Lectures, Papers and Addresses, 1984-2005

Unpublished Fiction, 1972, 1977

“Miscellaneous”: cards, certificates, poems and correspondence, 1974-2005

“Letters from Writers, Critics,” Correspondence predominantly to Besner, 1980-2004, n.d.

Books & Journals, 1988-2003

PC 188 (A.05-45, A.07-03) - Photographs, [1989], 1998

A.07-03, 2003-2006

A.10-21, 1974-2006


Collection Summary

Repository:
University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections,
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Creator:
Neil Kalman Besner

Title:
Neil Kalman Besner fonds

Dates:
1972-2006; predominantly 1991-2006

Quantity:
0.82 m of textual records, 12 photographs

Identification:
MSS 211 A.05-45, A.07-03, A. 10-21

English

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Biography of Neil Kalman Besner

Neil Kalman Besner was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1949. He spent much of his childhood in Brazil after his family left Canada in the mid-1950s. He attended high school and began university in the United States but returned to Canada in 1970. He completed his B.A. (Honours English) at McGill University, Montreal, in 1972, his M.A. in American literature at the University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan in 1974, and his Ph.D. in Canadian literature at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in 1983. His dissertation was entitled: Mavis Gallant’s Short Fiction: History and Memory in the Light of Imagination. After four years as an instructor in English at Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta, he joined the faculty of the University of Winnipeg in 1987 as an assistant professor. He became an associate professor in 1990, Chair of the English Department in 1993 and full professor in 1995. After serving on the Board of Regents and on a number of administrative and academic committees, he became Dean of Humanities, University of Winnipeg on 1 May 2002, a position that he continues to hold in 2005.

He has written The Light of Imagination: Mavis Gallant’s Fiction (University of British Columbia Press, 1988), Introducing Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women (ECW Press, 1990), completed an English translation of Carmen Oliveira’s Rare and Commonplace Flowers: The Story of Elizabeth Bishop and Lota de Macedo Soares (Rutgers University Press, 2003) edited The Short Story in English (Oxford University Press, 1991) with David Staines and Uncommon Wealth: An Anthology of Poetry in English (Oxford University Press, 1997) with Deborah Schnitzer and Alden Turner. In 1995 he edited a special issue of Prairie Fire Magazine that focused on Carol Shields. He later edited Carol Shields: The Arts of a Writing Life (Prairie Fire Press, 2003), which included works by many of the contributors to the special issue of Prairie Fire. In his role as president of the Linguistic Circle of Manitoba and North Dakota (LCMND), Dr. Besner provided an overview of Carol Shields’ life and work in a speech entitled “The Great Canadian Shields” to the LCMND on 28 October 1994. The text of this speech can be found in MSS SC 166, Linguistic Circle of Manitoba and North Dakota fonds. Dr. Besner has also authored numerous scholarly articles and reviews and provided commentary to CBC Radio and the Winnipeg Free Press. Dr. Besner speaks French, Spanish and Portuguese in addition to English. His primary area of interest continues to be Canadian literature.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The fonds is divided into twelve series created by donor: curriculum vitae; published articles; notes and correspondence for the translation of Rare and Commonplace Flowers; correspondence regarding Uncommon Wealth; correspondence and contributors’ submissions to the Carol Shields issue of Prairie Fire and to Carol Shields: The Arts of a Writing Life; reading scripts for unpublished lectures and addresses; an unpublished short story and unpublished novel; a file marked “miscellaneous” by donor, containing cards, certificates, poems and some correspondence; letters to donor from writers and critics; two colour photographs and copies of books written or edited by donor.

Significance: Donor’s career as a critic, editor, and translator and as an author of fiction is the primary focus of fonds, as is his professional contact with other academics, writers and critics. His career as a university administrator is alluded to through the text of his convocation and introductory addresses. Neither his practice and philosophy of teaching, nor his personal life, is apparent in this fonds.

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Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is arranged into nine series, a 2005 accession (A.05-45), PC 188, a 2007 accession (A.07-03), and a 2010 accession (A.10-21)

  • 1. Personal, 1983, 2005
  • 2. Published Articles, 1982-2005
  • 3. Rare and Commonplace Flowers, translated by Neil Besner,1994, 1998-1999, 2002, n.d.
  • 4. Uncommon Wealth: An Anthology of Poetry in English, 1994-1997
  • 5. Prairie Fire issue and Carol Shields: The Arts of a Writing Life, 1994-2002
  • 6. Unpublished Lectures, Papers and Addresses, 1984-2005
  • 7. Unpublished Fiction, 1972, 1977
  • 8. “Miscellaneous”: cards, certificates, poems and correspondence, 1974-2005
  • 9. “Letters from Writers, Critics,” Correspondence predominantly to Besner, 1980-2004, n.d.
  • PC 188 (A.05-45, A.07-03) Photographs, [1989], 1998, 2005
  • A.07-03
  • A.10-21

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Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on this material.

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MSS SC 166, Linguistic Circle of Manitoba and North Dakota fonds

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Custodial History

The fonds was donated by Neil Kalman Besner to the Department of Archives & Special Collections in July of 2005; accession number A.05-45, in 2007; accession number A.07-03, and in 2010; accession number A.10.21.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

A.05-45 - Personal, [ 1983-2005 ]
BoxFolder
11 Curriculum Vitae, 2005
2 Programme of Ph.D. Oral Examination, 1983
3 Draft of Review of Aharon Appelfeld’s The Age of Wonders, 1982
4 Draft of Review of Saul Bellow’s The Dean’s December, 1982
5 Xeroxes of entries in Canadian Encyclopedia, 1st edition. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1985
6 Publisher’s Complimentary copy of “Beyond Two Solitudes, After Survival: Postmodern Fiction in Canada,” by Neil Bessner [sic], 1992
7 Draft of “Going Back to Brazil,” 1992
8 Draft of Review of Carol Shields’ The Stone Diaries, 1993
9 Draft of “From Theory to practice in the Post-Secondary Writing Classroom: What’s Wrong with What Works?,” 1993
10 Draft of “In Other Words: Fiction in Translation,” 1993
11 Draft of Reprint of “Beyond Two Solitudes, After Survival: Postmodern Fiction in Canada,” in Canadian Literature and Culture at Century’s End, 1995
12 Draft of “A World Divided, A World Divined: Two North American Fictions,” 1996
13 Draft of “Shining Like Phosphorus at the Bottom of the Sea: A.M. Klein,” 1996
14 Draft of “Canadian Children’s Regional Literature: Fictions First,” 1997
15 Draft of “Canada II - Anglophone,” 1998
16 Draft of “Cooley Interruptus,” 1998
17 Draft of “‘You Seek Around Backwards Somewhere Trying to Phrase It’: An Interview with Al Purdy,” 1998
18 Draft of “Patrick Friesen’s St. Mary at Main: A Book of Names,” 1999
19 Draft of Review of Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost, 2000
20 Draft of Review of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, 2000
21 Draft of “Carnival 2001, Rio de Janeiro,” 2001
22 Draft of Review of Miriam Toews’ A Boy of Good Breeding, 2001
23 Draft of “Elizabeth Bishop, Dona Elizabetchy, and Cookie: Translating the Brazilian Biography of an American Poet,” 2002
24 Draft of Introduction to Carol Shields: The Arts of a Writing Life, 2003
25 Draft of “Figurações do Feminino em Unless de Carol Shields,” 2005
26 Draft of “Figurações do Feminino em Unless de Carol Shields,” 2005
27 Draft of “‘The Whole Mighty Problem of Communication’: Alice Munro’s Post and Beam,” 2005
28 Draft of “Writing Saskatchewan: The First Hundred Years,” 2005

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Rare and Commonplace Flowers, translated by Neil Besner, 1994, 1998-1999, 2002, n.d.
BoxFolder
128 Reviews: 2002 and n.d.
29 Correspondence, predominantly printed email, 1998-1999
30 Working Notes: 1994, 1999, n.d., predominantly n.d.

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Uncommon Wealth: An Anthology of Poetry in English, 1994-1997
BoxFolder
131 Correspondence, 1994-1997, predominantly 1994

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Prairie Fire issue and Carol Shields: The Arts of a Writing Life, 1994-2002
BoxFolder
132 Correspondence, February-December 1994
33 Correspondence, January-July 1995
34 Correspondence, 2002
35 Research: Prairie Fire, 1995
36 Research: Carol Shields: The Arts of a Writing Life, [2002]
37 Drafts of Contributors’ Articles, appearing in Prairie Fire and in Carol Shields: The Arts of a Writing Life, 1994-1995
BoxFolder
21 Drafts of Contributors’ Articles appearing only in Prairie Fire, 1995
2 Drafts of Contributors’ Articles appearing only in Carol Shields: The Arts of a Writing Life, 2002

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Unpublished Lectures, Papers and Addresses, 1984-2005
BoxFolder
23 CBC Radio Presentations, 1999, 2003
4 Introductions, Roasts, Eulogies, Convocation Addresses, 1992-2003
5 Unpublished Lectures and Papers, 1984
6 Unpublished Lectures and Papers, 1985
7 Unpublished Lectures and Papers, 1989
8 Unpublished Lectures and Papers, 1991
9 Unpublished Lectures and Papers, 1994
10 Unpublished Lectures and Papers, 1998
11 Unpublished Lectures and Papers, 1999
12 Unpublished Lectures and Papers, 2002
13 Unpublished Lectures and Papers, 2003
14 Unpublished Lectures and Papers, 2004
15 Unpublished Lectures and Papers, 2004
16 Unpublished Lectures and Papers, 2005

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Unpublished Fiction, 1972, 1977
BoxFolder
217 Typed Draft of Untitled Short Story, 1972
18 Typed Draft: Feldman’s Dream: A Novel, pages 1-100. Includes submission acknowledgement and rejection letter, 1977
19 Typed Draft: Feldman’s Dream: A Novel, pages 101-20, 1977
BoxFolder
31 Xerox of Draft: Feldman’s Dream: A Novel, pages 1-100, 1977
2 Xerox of Draft: Feldman’s Dream: A Novel, pages 101-201, 1977

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“Miscellaneous”: cards, certificates, poems and correspondence, 1974-2005
BoxFolder
33 Correspondence, 1992, 2004
4 Cards, 1979, 1992, 1995, 2002-2003, 2005, n.d.
5 Announcements of Seminars, Lectures and Cabarets, . 1991, 2001-2002, 2005, n.d
6 Certificates, 1986, 2003
7 Poems, 1974-1995

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“Letters from Writers, Critics,” Correspondence predominantly to Besner, 1980-2004, n.d.
BoxFolder
38 Correspondence, n.d.
9 Correspondence, 1980-1981
10 Correspondence from Besner to Mavis Gallant with Gallant’s extensive handwritten notes in reply, 1982
11 Correspondence, 1983-1988
12 Correspondence, 1989-1991
13 Correspondence, 1993-1994
14 Correspondence, 1997-2000
15 Correspondence, 2003-2004

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Books & Journals, 1988-2003
BoxFolder
41 Besner, Neil. The Light of Imagination: Mavis Gallant’s Fiction. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1988
2 Besner, Neil. Introducing Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women: A Reader’s Guide. Toronto: ECW Press, 1990
3 Besner, Neil and David Staines, editors. The Short Story in English. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1991
4 Besner Neil, issue editor. Prairie Fire: A Canadian Magazine Of New Writing, Vol. 16, no.1 (Spring 1995), Carol Shields issue, 1995
5 Besner, Neil, Deborah Schnitzer and Alden Turner, editors. Uncommon Wealth: An Anthology of Poetry in English. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997
6 Besner, Neil, issue editor. Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review, Number 158 (Autumn 1998)
7 Oliveira, Carmen L. Rare and Commonplace Flowers: The Story of Elizabeth Bishop and Lota de Macedo Soares, translated by Neil Besner. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2003
8 Besner, Neil K, editor. Carol Shields: The Arts of a Writing Life. Winnipeg: Prairie Fire Press, Inc. 2003

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PC 188 (A.05-45, A.07-03) - Photographs, [1989], 1998
BoxFolder
11 One colour photograph of Simone Vauthier and Neil Besner, [1989]
One colour photograph of Guy and Margaret Vanderhaeghe and Thomas Grenn, 1998
Two colour photographs of Neil Besner and Bill Now, Paris, 2005
One colour photograph of Neil Besner and Marta Dvorak, Paris, 2005
One colour photograph of Neil Besner and Mark ?, Paris, 2005

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A.07-03, 2003-2006
BoxFolder
11 Speeches, Introductions, 2005-2006
2 Articles, Speeches - University of Rio De Janeiro; University of San Paulo, Brazil 2006, 2003

(in Portuguese)

3 Articles - Universidate Estadual Paulista, Brazil 2005

(in Portuguese)

A Figura da Mulher na Literatura Canadense Contemporanea

4 Conferences, 2005-2006
5 Correspondence - General, 2003-2006
6 Correspondence re: Lorna Crozier Poems, 2003-2005

with Lorna Crozier and Catherine Hunter

7 Before the First Word: the Poetry of Lorna Crozier, 2005

(Preliminary Page Proofs)

8 Posters, 2002

Mavis Gallant - Sorbonne, 2002

Oliveira, Carmen L. Rare and commonplace flowers : the story of Elizabeth Bishop and Lota de Macedo Soares/ translated by Neil Besner - McNally Robinson, 2002

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A.10-21, 1974-2006
BoxFolder
11 Personal: Program for PhD oral examination, 1983
2 Published Materials: Book Reviews by Besner, 1978, 2000
3 Published Materials: Editorial in Foothills Magazine, October 1986
4 Published Materials: Uncommon Wealth: An Anthology of Poetry in English ed. by Neil Besner, 1992-1998
5 Published Materials: Translation of Flores Raras E Banalissimas: A Historia de Lofa Macedo Soares e Elizabeth Bishop, 1997-2003
6 Published Materials: Is Canada Postcolonial?: Unsettling Canadian Literature, 2001
7 Published Materials: About Carol Shields 2003
8 Unpublished Fiction: Feldman's Dream: Regina, 1974-[1975]
9 Unpublished Materials: Feldman's Dream: Notebook, June 19, 1975
10 Unpublished Materials: Feldman's Dream: Chapter 1 revised, September 1975
11 Unpublished Materials: Feldman's Dream: notes and outline, October 13 [1975]
12 Unpublished Materials: Feldman's Dream: Roosevelt, [1975]
13 Unpublished Materials: Feldman's Dream: Drafts, [1975]
14 Unpublished Materials: Feldman's Dream: Drafts and notes, [1975]
15 Unpublished Materials: Seminars, Conference Papers, Addresses, 1998-2005; predominant 1999
16 Unpublished Materials: Canadian Literature: A Summer's Browsing?, [199-]
17 Correspondence: Letters and Faxes, 1988-2006; predominant 1994-2006
18 Photographs: 6 coloured photographs of Besner, [199-], 1999, 2003, 2005

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