Centre for Research in Young People's Texts and Cultures

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Benjamin Lefebvre

Copy Editor, Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures

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Website: http://roomofbensown.net

Benjamin Lefebvre

Biography

Both my research and my teaching in the field of young people’s texts and cultures consider print, screen, and material texts for young people, the industries that produce and circulate them, the political and ideological agendas that shape them, as well as depictions of young people evident in Canadian and international contexts and the interplay between texts for children and texts of childhood aimed at a general readership. A particular focus of my work has been on the ways in which texts featuring young people are adapted, rewritten, and extended into new texts or franchises for young consumers and on the ways in which discourses of gender, race, sexuality, class, and ability are linked to constructions of nationhood. My edited collection of interdisciplinary essays, Textual Transformations in Children’s Literature, was published in Routledge’s Children’s Literature and Culture series in 2013, and I have contributed journal articles and book chapters on Laura Ingalls Wilder, young adult fiction, and the television series Degrassi: The Next Generation.

In addition, I have published six books pertaining to L.M. Montgomery, including an edition of her rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted (2009); an edited collection of interdisciplinary essays, Anne’s World: A New Century of Anne of Green Gables (jointly with Irene Gammel, 2010); a restored and annotated edition of Montgomery’s First World War novel, Rilla of Ingleside (jointly with Andrea McKenzie, 2010); and most recently the critical anthology The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1: A Life in Print (2013), Volume 2: A Critical Heritage (2014), and Volume 3: A Legacy in Review (2015), which consists of essays by Montgomery, interviews with her, commentary and scholarship on her work, coverage of her death and funeral, and reviews of her books, supplemented by extensive introductions, headnotes, and notes.

While teaching at the University of Winnipeg during the 2006–2007 academic year, I had the opportunity to test out texts and approaches with dynamic groups of students in a number of courses, including Canadian Children’s Literature and Cultures, Fiction for Children, Fairy Tales and Culture, and an Advanced Studies in Children’s Cultural and Literary Texts course on Adolescent Literary and Media Texts. Since my time at the University of Winnipeg, I have held a number of postdoctoral and visiting appointments, as SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta (2007–2009), as Leverhulme Visiting Fellow at the International Forum for Research in Children’s Literature, University of Worcester (2009–2010), and as Visiting Scholar in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University (2007–2009), the L.M. Montgomery Institute at the University of Prince Edward Island (2009–2011), and the TransCanada Institute at the University of Guelph (2012–2013). Most recently, I completed a graduate certificate in publishing at Ryerson University.

Since 2010, I have taught courses in English, Youth and Children’s Studies, and Society, Culture and Environment (formerly Contemporary Studies) at Wilfrid Laurier University–Brantford, including Children, Toys and Media and a fourth-year seminar on Cinderella. I also teach a course called Children’s Classics in the 21st Century as part of the graduate certificate program in publishing at Ryerson University, both in the classroom and online. Formerly Assistant Editor (2001–2004) and Member of the Editorial Board (2006–2008) of the journal Canadian Children’s Literature / Littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse, I am now Series Editor of the Early Canadian Literature Series published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press, Copy Editor of Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, and Director of L.M. Montgomery Online.

Education

  • Graduate certificate, Publishing, Ryerson University (2015)
  • Ph.D., English, McMaster University (2006)
  • M.A., English, University of Guelph (2001)
  • B.A. (Hons.), English Literature, Concordia University (1999)

Ph.D. Dissertation

My dissertation, which was entitled “Ambivalence, Belonging, Citizenship: Ideology and the Represented Child in Twentieth-Century Canadian Fiction,” used reader-response theory to gauge the ideological potential of the child figure in a number of Canadian texts: two intended for children, two intended for adults, and one whose target audience is open to debate. Because several strands of scholarship on children’s and adolescent literature highlight the didactic, manipulative undercurrent to works within the overall genre, my objective was to test out whether texts that featured child protagonists but were intended for adults addressed those readers in the same way, given that the childhoods depicted in these texts do not conform to the idealism and nostalgia that many authors and readers associate with the childhoods of children’s literature.


Current Projects

Untying the Yellow Ribbon: Reading and Rereading L.M. Montgomery

This book offers a major reconsideration of L.M. Montgomery’s fiction, poetry, and life writing in light of the thematic surprises in her rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, apparently delivered to her publishers the day of her death. It draws on a range of archival and ephemeral materials as well as on scholarship on early and interwar Canadian literature to offer new insights on Montgomery’s approach to domestic fiction and to modernism, her preoccupation with war, her ambivalence about feminism, patriarchy, and the romance plot, and her business practices as a shrewd professional author.

Young Canada: The Represented Child in Canadian Fiction in English

Based loosely on my doctoral dissertation, this book focuses on a range of Canadian novels and short stories that feature child protagonists but target adult readers and that were published in the sixty-five-year period following the establishment of the Citizenship Act of 1946. These texts transform the notion of childhood innocence into a form of dramatic irony, highlighting the discrepancy between the stated rights and responsibilities encoded in the legal definitions of “Canadian citizen” and the relative powerlessness experienced by fictional characters aged twelve and under. As emerging citizens of the nation by virtue of their age, these characters offer readers a skewed perspective on the boundaries and taboos that surrounding adult characters have internalized as normative, for the benefit of readers who have left childhood behind. The authors whose work forms the basis of this study include André Alexis, Margaret Atwood, Morley Callaghan, David Chariandy, Emma Donoghue, Timothy Findley, Hiromi Goto, Tomson Highway, Joy Kogawa, Margaret Laurence, John Marlyn, W.O. Mitchell, Beatrice Culleton Mosionier, Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler, and Miriam Toews.


Featured Publications

    The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review
  • Editor, The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015. x + 453 pp. Includes “Introduction: A Legacy in Review” (3–48), “A Note on the Text” (49–50), headnotes and annotations for all twenty-four chapters, and “Epilogue: Posthumous Reviews, 1960–2013” (359–90).
  • The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical Heritage
  • Editor, The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical Heritage. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014. xii + 451 pp. Includes “Introduction: A Critical Heritage” (3–49), “A Note on the Text” (50), and headnotes for all twenty chapters.
  • The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1: A Life in Print
  • Editor, The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1: A Life in Print. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013. xiv + 450 pp. Includes “Introduction: A Life in Print” (3–28), “A Note on the Text” (29–30), and headnotes and annotations for all eighty chapters and an epilogue.
  • Find this book in the UW library

    Textual Transformations in Children's Literature
  • Editor, Textual Transformations in Children’s Literature: Adaptations, Translations, Reconsiderations. New York: Routledge, 2013. xvi + 223 pp. Children’s Literature and Culture. Includes “Introduction: Textual Transformations in Children’s Literature” (1–6) and “Our Home on Native Land: Adapting and Readapting Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie” (175–96). Paperback edition, 2015.
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    Rilla of Ingleside
  • Co-editor, Rilla of Ingleside, by L.M. Montgomery. Jointly with Andrea McKenzie. Toronto: Viking Canada, 2010. xxvi + 390 pp. Includes “Introduction” (ix–xix), “A Note on the Text” (xx), “The Origins of the First World War” (xxi–xxiii), headnote for “Canadian Women’s Poetry of the First World War” (351), Glossary (354–87), and Further Reading (388–89), all jointly with Andrea McKenzie. Paperback edition, 2011.
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    Anne's World
  • Co-editor, Anne’s World: A New Century of Anne of Green Gables. Jointly with Irene Gammel. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010. x + 263 pp. Includes “What’s in a Name? Towards a Theory of the Anne Brand” (192–211).
  • Find this book in the UW library

    The Blythes Are Quoted
  • Editor, The Blythes Are Quoted, by L.M. Montgomery. Toronto: Viking Canada, 2009. xvi + 527 pp. Includes “Afterword” (511–20) and “A Note on the Text” (521–22). Paperback edition, 2010. Subsequently translated into Polish, Finnish, and Japanese.
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  • “Nationalism, Nostalgia, and Intergenerational Girlhood: Textual and Ideological Extensions to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House.” In Children and Cultural Memory in Texts of Childhood, edited by Heather Snell and Lorna Hutchison, 47–65. New York: Routledge, 2014. Children’s Literature and Culture.
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  • “Archival Adventures with L.M. Montgomery; or, ‘As Long as the Leaves Hold Together.’” Jointly with Vanessa Brown. In Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace: Explorations in Canadian Women’s Archives, edited by Linda M. Morra and Jessica Schagerl, 233–48. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2012. Life Writing. Also in The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical Heritage, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre, 371–86. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014.
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  • “‘The Same as Bein’ Canadian’: John Marlyn’s Eye among the Blind.” Studies in Canadian Literature / Études en littérature canadienne 34, no. 1 (2009): 24–40.
  • “Agency, Belonging, Citizenship: The ABCs of Nation-Building in Contemporary Canadian Texts for Adolescents.” Canadian Literature 198 (Winter 2008): 91–101. Special issue: “Canada and Its Discontents.”
  • “Adolescence through the Looking-Glass: Ideology and the Represented Child in Degrassi: The Next Generation.” Canadian Children’s Literature / Littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse 33, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 82–106. Link
  • “From Bad Boy to Dead Boy: Homophobia, Adolescent Problem Fiction, and Male Bodies That Matter.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 30, no. 3 (Fall 2005): 288–313.

Full List of Publications


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