Ryerson University

We hold special research collections (including books, journals, magazines, images, costumes, and other artifacts) related to early twentieth-century literature and culture with the following subjects: 

I. Modernism and Avantgarde Collection

The Modernism and Avantgarde Collection contains over 1000 books focusing on the modernist movements in literature and the arts from the late nineteenth century to the present, with an emphasis on avant-garde movements such as Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism. Also included are central magazines of the period, whether in modern reprints (e.g., The Little Review, Contact) or in microfilm (Greenwich Village Quill, Liberator).

The collection sheds light on the artistic and literary production of the modernist period, from a variety of perspectives (e.g., history, literary criticism, art history and criticism). It covers the making of modernism in its diverse array of practices (e.g., modernist salons, performances, public readings of poetry), artistic expressions (e.g., abstract art, photography, early cinema), geographical centers (e.g., Paris, Zurich, New York), and dimensions (e.g., the city, the machine, gender, race). The collection includes rare first-edition autobiographical texts by Margaret Anderson, George Biddle, Ford Madox Ford, Nina Hamnet, Matthew Josephson, Claude McKay, and Ettie Stettheimer. These primary materials provide an unrivalled window into the period’s events and participants.

Attention is paid to central literary/artistic figures such as Gertrude Stein, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Florine Stettheimer, but also to patrons like Peggy Guggenheim and models like Kiki de Montparnasse. The collection also features works that contextualize these literary and artistic movements, including, for instance, works on the emergence of New York City as the space of modernity and the epitome of the metropolis.

Special collections foci include:

i. Karen Mulhallen Collection: 550 books including first editions, exhibition catalogues, out-of-print work from the modernist era.

ii. Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven Collection: Material related to the Dada artist’s life and art and the writers and artists in her orbit such as Margaret Anderson, Djuna Barnes, Jane Heap, Mina Loy, and others. Books, journals, and magazines (e.g. reprint of the Little Review, Contact) related to the avant-garde and modernism.

iii. Modern Americana Collection: The materials on American literature comprise both primary and secondary works from the late nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth century, featuring works by Edna Ferber, Henry James, Herman Melville, and others, as well as rare first editions by Willa Cather, Mary Roberts Reinhart, Lola Ridge, H.L. Mencken or Frank Norris. The collection includes a nearly full set of early and first editions by Theodore Dreiser and William Faulkner, along with extensive secondary materials. 

II. Modern Canadiana 

The Modern Canadiana Collection contains over 500 books and journals focusing on the literary production in Canada from the late nineteenth century to the present, with an emphasis on the first half of the twentieth century. The collection includes rare first-edition fiction, poetry, and autobiography by Bliss Carman, F.P. Grove, L.M. Montgomery, Mazo de la Roche, Robert Stead, Martha Ostenso, Kathleen Strange, and others.

Special collections foci include:

i. L.M. Montgomery Collection: Contains many first editions of L.M. Montgomery (1874-1942), including the Emily series, Magic for Marigold, and numerous editions of Anne of Green Gables and its sequels; the international sources that shaped the author’s 1908 classic novel Anne of Green Gables, including contemporary magazines such as The Delineator, The Household, Godey’s Lady’s Book, etc., and children’s magazines such as St. Nicholas (from 1875 to 1926) and The Boy’s Own Annual; information relating to Ryerson Press; visual culture and extensive information on beauty icon Evelyn Nesbit; and first edition books by Bliss Carman, H. R. Haweis, George du Maurier, Evelyn Nesbit, Pansy, Harry Thaw, Helen Winslow, and many others.

ii. Frederick Philip Grove Collection: Contains an almost complete set of first editions of works by Canadian writer Frederick Philip Grove (1879-1948), aka Felix Paul Greve, including some of his rare German translations. Includes sources relating to the German avant-garde of the turn of the century and his relationship with Else Plötz aka the Baroness, a comprehensive resource of secondary sources including biographies and monographs.

III. General Collection

The General Collection at the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre contains approximately 500 books and journal issues focusing mostly on literary theory. The theory section of the collection includes critical works from a variety of theoretical perspectives, including feminism, deconstructionism, psychoanalytic criticism, and other streams of contemporary cultural and critical theory. It includes critical works by authors such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Naomi Klein, Thomas Laqueur, Linda Nochlin, Camille Paglia, and Edward Said, along with other works ranging from dictionaries, readers, and general introductions to cultural and literary theory. A special focus of the collection includes autobiographical and biographical theory.

IV. Costume and Artifact Collection:

Historical reproductions of early twentieth-century costumes and art work. The cataloguing of these research and archival materials is part of the MLC’s long-term plan.

Provenance:

Books are made available through the research library of the Canada Research Chair in Modern Literature and Culture; other books were donated; others purchased with CRC funds.

The Great War in Literature and Visual Culture

MLC Themes

The Great War in Literature and Visual Culture

Amid the unprecedented social change of World War I, women renegotiated their identities by dramatically changing the way they engaged with the arts. But how did they do so? And how did everyday citizens engage with the war?

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

MLC Themes

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, considered by many to be the mother of Dada, was a daringly innovative poet and an early creator of junk sculpture. “The Baroness” was best known for her sexually charged, often controversial performances.

Modernism in the World

MLC Themes

Modernism in the World

Recent research has departed from the Euro-centric and national view of Modernism to include approaches and methods studying Modernism across national boundaries and across different art forms to include fashion, dance, performance, technology, and visual culture.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

MLC Themes

Lucy Maud Montgomery

L.M. Montgomery is perhaps Canada's most important literary export. She was prolific writer of over 500 short stories and poems, and twenty novels, including the beloved Anne of Green Gables.

Canadian Modernism

MLC Themes

Canadian Modernism

The works of numerous Canadian authors who lived during the modernist era may well constitute the most central and experimental articulation of Canadian modernism in prose, allowing authors to stage cross-cultural, controversial, and even conflicted identities.

Modernist Biography and Life Writing

MLC Themes

Modernist Biography and Life Writing

Life writing, including autobiographical accounts, diaries, letters and testimonials written or told by women and men whose political, literary or philosophical purposes are central to their lives, has become a standard tool for communication and the dissemination of information.