Neil Besner


Neil Besner Title: Professor; Provost and Vice-President, Academic
Office: 3C17
Building: Centennial
Phone: 204 988 7104


I’m from Montreal but left there early and grew up in Brazil, where I return frequently. I went to high school in the U.S. (1962-66), then started my B.A. at the University of Southern California in L.A., returned to Montreal in 1970, and finished my B.A. (Honors) at McGill (1972). I came West in 1972, finished my M.A. on Saul Bellow at the University of Regina (1974), travelled in Europe and Africa (1974-5) and taught English as a Second Language in Seville, Spain (1975). I taught at UBC (1976-83) and did my PhD there on Mavis Gallant’s fiction, and then started returning eastward when I moved to Calgary to teach at Mount Royal (1983 – 1987). I’ve been at UW since 1987 and taught regularly in the English Department until 2007 and irregularly since then. Both my kids are graduates of UW.  I love this place.

Teaching Areas:

Various approaches to 19th, 20th Century, and contemporary Canadian literature; the short story as genre and form; twentieth century American Fiction and Poetry; Fiction in Translation (particularly Asian, European, and especially South American); Expository writing; and Individual authors: Saul Bellow, Alice Munro, Mavis Gallant, Elizabeth Bishop, and the lyrics of Bob Dylan.  



Books and Editions

Co-edited, with Maria Conçeição Monteiro and Guillermo Giucci, Além dos Limites: Ensaios para o Século XXI. (Beyond Limits: Essays for the Twenty-First Century.)  Rio de Janeiro: ed.uerj (State University of Rio de Janeiro Press), 2013.

Co-edited and contributed to, with Carlinda Fragale Pate Nunez and Maria Conceição Monteiro, Diálogos nas Américas - Brasil / Canadá: Culturas e Literaturas / Dialogues in the Americas - Brazil / Canada: Cultures and Literatures, Number 2. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Caetés, 2010.

Co-edited and contributed to, with Carlinda Fragale Pate Nunez and Maria Conceição Monteiro, (As)simetrias nas Americas: Brasil/Canada: Culturas e Literaturas. (A)symmetries in the Americas: Brazil/Canada: cultures and literatures.  Rio de Janeiro: Editora Caetes, 2008.

Edited and introduced, Carol Shields: The Arts of a Writing Life. Winnipeg: Prairie Fire Press, 2003.

Co-edited with Sergio Bellei, special issue of Desterros  (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil) on Postcolonialism in Canada and Brazil.  2003.

Translated into English Carmen L. Oliveira, Flores Raras e Banalíssimas: A História de Lota de Macedo Soares e Elizabeth Bishop (Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 1995): Rare and Commonplace Flowers: The Story of Lota de Macedo Soares and Elizabeth Bishop. New Jersey: Rutgers Univ. Press, 2001.

(Reprint, paperback, Rutgers 2003.  Stonewall Honour Book, American Library Association, 2002; Finalist, Lambda Literary Awards, 2002.) Used as the main source for 2013 feature film, Reaching for the Moon, Dir. Bruno Barreto. Portuguese film title: Flores Raras.

Guest edited New Directions, special issue of Canadian Literature, No. 158 (Autumn, 1998).

Co-edited with D. Schnitzer and A. Turner, University of Winnipeg, Uncommon Wealth: An Anthology of Poetry in English.  Toronto:  Oxford Univer­sity Press, 1997.

Edited special issue of Prairie Fire on Carol Shields, Vol. 16, No. 1. (Spring, 1995).

Co-edited, with David Staines, Univ. of Ottawa, The Short Story In English.  Toronto: Oxford Univer­sity Press, 1991.

Introducing Lives of Girls and Women.  Toronto:  ECW Press, 1990.

The Light of Imagination:  Mavis Gallant's Fiction.  Vancouver: Uni­versity of British Columbia Press, 1988.

2003 -- General Editor, Laurier Poetry Series, Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Responsible for selecting poets and critics and for editing manuscripts. Twenty-two volumes in print and several others in press as of January 2015 (on Tim Lilburn, ed. Alison Calder; Al Purdy, ed. Rob Budde; Di Brandt, ed. Tanis McDonald; Don McKay, ed. Meira Cook; Lorna Crozier, ed. Catherine Hunter; Christopher Dewdney, ed. Karl Jirgens, Dennis Cooley, ed. Nicole Markotic; Don Domanski, ed. Brian Bartlett; M. Travis Lane, ed. Jeanette Lynes; Louis Dudek, ed. Karis Shearer, George Elliott Clarke, ed. J. P. Fiorentino; Dionne Brand, ed. Leslie Sanders; Nicole Brossard, bilingual edition, ed. Louise Forsyth; Fred Wah, ed. Louis Cabri.; Steve McCaffery, ed. Darren Wershler; Eli Mandel, ed. Peter Webb; F.R. Scott, ed. Laura Moss; George Fetherling, ed. A Moritz; derek beaulieau, ed. Kit Dobson; Tom Wayman, ed. Percy Owen; Daphne Marlatt, ed. Susan Knutson; and Jan Zwicky, ed. Darren Bifford).

Approximately 40 articles, book chapters, and essays in various journals and editions in Brazil, China, the U.S., France, and Canada, mostly in English, a few in Portuguese, and one in French; approximately 85 entries on Canadian, American, Brazilian, and Peruvian writers in various literary encyclopedias; and approximately 90 reviews in newspapers and journals.

Papers on deposit in Special Collections, University of Manitoba, including unpublished novel, at