Red Deer College hosted a book launch to celebrate the release of three works penned by faculty in the School of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Laura Davis, Dr. Jenna Butler and Dr. Jeff Wigelsworth all read from their new titles and discussed the background to the projects during the launch which was held in the College library on Oct. 11th.
Davis, who read from her book Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland, Letters, is the chair of Humanities and Social Sciences and an English instructor at RDC.
“This is a book of letters between the author Margaret Laurence and her publisher Jack McClelland – I discovered the letters in the archives in Ontario when I was doing work on another book on Margaret Lawrence,” she explained. “Her letters were so amazing. They were so dynamic and the personalities between these two came through. I thought, I wonder is there are more letters between this author and her publisher?”
Turns out there were quite a few to peruse.
“The letters are funny, they are affectionate. They demonstrate the development of a close friendship between author and publisher,” she said of the collection, which contains letter from the 50s all the way through to 1987 when Laurence passed away.
“During that time, we also have kind of an explosion of writing on the Canadian literary scene,” she said. “So the book shows not only the friendship between these two which started out as kind of a professional relationship and developed into a deep relationship – it also shows the growth of Canadian literature during that time and all of the background to that.”
Davis’s other titles include Margaret Laurence Writes Canada and Africa (2017) and Essay Writing for Canadian Students, co-authored with Roger Davis.
Butler, who read from her book Magnetic North: Sea Voyage to Svalbard, is also the author of Seldom Seen Road, Wells, Aphelion and A Profession of Hope: Farming on the Edge the of Grizzly Trail among others.
“When I’m not working at the College as a professor, I’m out in the world as a writer,” she said. “In 2014, I was really fortunate to get a writing residency on a tall ship up in the Norwegian Arctic Circle for a couple of weeks over the summer solstice.
“I was up there with 30 other writers, scientists, artists, polar bear guards from around the world, and there we were, stuck in the middle of the Arctic Ocean unable to get off this masted vessel for two weeks,” she said, adding that all told, it was an amazing experience.
She said the ship allowed her to see places that the larger scientific vessels couldn’t reach.
There was a downside to that however.
“We saw a lot of environmental degradation that a lot of the larger ships couldn’t get to.
“But it was an incredible, visceral experience and it took me between 2014 and 2018 to process the experience and to write about it.”
Her research into endangered environments has also take her from America’s deep south to Ireland’s Ring of Kerry, and from Tenerife to the Arctic Circle, exploring the ways in which we impact the landscapes we call home, according to a release.
Wigelsworth read from his book All Souls College, Oxford in the Early Eighteenth Century: Piety, Political Imposition, and Legacy of the Glorious Revolution.
He has been a history instructor at RDC since 2010.
“It’s mainly the story of a college trying to maintain its traditional mission in the face of a changing world that no longer valued the things that it was trying to produce,” he explained.
His research is focused on the intellectual environment of early-modern England with an emphasis on heretical theology and the history of science.
“Almost all of my publishing is the result of serendipity,” he said. “I would be working on something else, and came across a manuscript or a letter or something that would lead me in an entirely different direction.”
His previous books include Science and Technology in Medieval European Life, Deism in Enlightenment England, Selling Science in the Age of Newton and the co-edited volume Atheism and Deism Revalued.