In the March 2021 episode of the SpokenWeb Podcast, SpokenWeb contributors Kate Moffatt, Kandice Sharren, and Michelle Levy presented the first episode of a two-part series: “Mavis Gallant reads ‘Grippes and Poche’ at SFU,” which included a full-length recording of Mavis Gallant’s reading of her New Yorker short story at Simon Fraser University in 1984. In the second episode of this series, we dive into what we are calling the “paratexts” of the reading: the material and contextual circumstances that informed Gallant’s performance, including an unrecorded and unarchived event that took place the day before; the audience; the theatre; and the physical tape itself.
This episode features our efforts to understand how these paratexts may have informed not only the experience of attending the event in 1984, but also our own experiences listening to the recording of the reading now, in 2021, and our interactions with the surviving archival materials. This investigation led Kate, Kandice, and Michelle to interview Ann Cowan-Buitenhuis and Carolyn Tate, who attended and contributed to the organization of the two events, and talk to Grazia Merler, a professor in the Department of Literature, Languages, and Linguistics at the time of the reading. Their contributions provided both memories and facts not captured by the archival remains of the reading.
With additional archival materials available in a supplementary gallery, this episode takes us beyond the bounds of an ‘audio edition’ to instead consider how the ‘paratexts’ of this reading deepen our understanding of the recording and bring to life the reading of the story by acclaimed Canadian short-story writer Mavis Gallant.
This episode was created by SpokenWeb contributors Kate Moffatt, Kandice Sharren, and Michelle Levy, with additional audio courtesy of the Simon Fraser University Archives and Records Management Department.
1. Contact sheet of photographs of Mavis Gallant, taken by Bruno Schlumberger, beside the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, November 1, 1990. Collection of Nancy Baele. Reproduced with permission of Bruno Schlumberger and Nancy Baele.
2. A map of the sixth arrondissement in Paris, where Gallant lived from 1961-2 until 2014, from Paris-atlas (1900) by Fernand Bournon. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
3. The cassette holding the reading of “Grippes and Poche” by Mavis Gallant on February 14, 1984, held in the SFU Archives. Tape reads “Special Lecture … * Master * Gallant 84-02-14.” Photo credit: Simon Fraser University Archives, OBJ-333.
4. The first page of “Grippes and Poche” in the November 29, 1982 issue of the New Yorker.
5. The event poster for the Mavis Gallant reading event at the Burnaby campus of Simon Fraser University. Photo credit: Simon Fraser University Archives.
6. Simon Fraser University, under construction, in 1965. Photo credit: Simon Fraser University Archives, IMC_65007_65-17.
7. The outside of Mavis Gallant’s apartment building in the 6th arrondissement, where she lived from 1961-2 until her death in 2014. GoogleMaps.
8. A portion of the author’s proofs that Gallant was reading from at the reading in 1984. Note the editor’s pencilled question – “[QA: he’s imagining this?]” – that Gallant reads aloud during her reading. From MS Coll 00189, box 6, courtesy of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, and Mavis Gallant’s estate and literary executor, MaryK Macleod.
9. Left, Ann Cowan-Buitenhuis and right, Carolyn Tate. Photo courtesy of Ann Cowan-Buitenhuis.
10. Images Theatre at Simon Fraser University, 1966. Photo credit: Simon Fraser University Archives, 66013_66-28A