Canada fertile field of study

June 14, 1996

Canadian studies, rather like the country it examines, is much bigger than you might think.

The latest survey on the subject in Britain, to be published next week, shows that it encompasses enough academics, students and courses to fill a medium- sized university.

Report authors Annis-May Timpson of the University of Sussex and Julian Baggini, British Association for Canadian Studies research assistant, located 337 practising Canadianists teaching 6,060 students on 211 courses with significant Canadian content at 93 institutions.

Dr Timpson, vice president of the BACS, said she was surprised: "What really struck me was the diversity of subjects, with 15 different subjects represented. I expected to find a lot of activity in traditional areas like geography, history, politics and literature, but the amount of interest in subjects like social policy, law and gender studies was striking."

Social policy/sociology emerg-ed as the third largest primary research area, with 36 practitioners. There are 47 geography and environmental studies specialists, 40 in politics and international relations, 29 in each of history and English literature and in both law and business/economics.

Leeds has the largest concentration of Canadianists with , followed by 22 in London and 16 at Sussex.

BACS decided to do the study as a means of finding out more about its membership and to raise the profile of the subject for the Research Assessment Exercise - where there will be a panel for American, Canadian, Latin American and Caribbean studies - and for publishers.

Relatively few books with Canadian themes are published here and there is no specialist Canadian bookshop - Paris has two.

She said there were several reasons for growing interest in Canada in recent years: "There is growing interest in post-colonial cultures, the North American Free Trade Association agreement has created interest in North America as a whole and Canada's experiences of multiculturalism, the treatment of aboriginal populations and of a Charter of Rights are particularly interesting for people in Europe. I find students are particularly interested in aboriginal rights issues."

The report coincides with two appointments, said to be the first of their type, to Canadian Studies chairs. Ged Martin, director of Edinburgh University's Centre for Canadian studies, has been appointed to a personal chair in the subject. Coral Howells of Reading University has been appointed to a chair in Canadian literature.

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