Dr. Ruth Panofsky

Professor of English / Graduate Program in Communication & Culture, Ryerson University

Dr. Panofsky specializes in Canadian women in publishing and Canadian Jewish women writers


Scholar/Poet Panofsky Delves into Print Culture

Canadian Jewish News, July 30, 2012Online

URL: http://www.cjnews.com/culture/books-and-authors/scholarpoet-panofsky-delves-print-culture

For Canadian academic Ruth Panofsky, who has published widely in the field of print culture and book history, the Macmillan Company of Canada seemed like an irresistible topic. “Along with Ryerson Press and McClelland and Stewart, Macmillan was instrumental in shaping Canada’s literary culture of the last century,” said Panofsky, a professor in the department of English and the joint graduate program in communication and culture at Ryerson University in Toronto. “But Macmillan also encouraged countless Canadian authors and helped establish a publishing industry for Canada.” Thanks to her previous research on Canadian novelists Mazo de la Roche and Adele Wiseman, both of whom were Macmillan authors, she came to realize that the men and women who managed the company through its history were as interesting and dynamic as the authors themselves. And so Panofsky, an expert on Wiseman, decided to write The Literary Legacy of the Macmillan Company of Canada: Making Books and Mapping Culture, which was published recently. Panofsky’s interest in print culture and book history developed in graduate school at York University, where she specialized in Canadian literature and wrote her doctoral dissertation on Thomas Chandler Haliburton (1796-1865), Canada’s first internationally recognized author. Panofsky’s thesis was on Haliburton’s The Clockmaker, a series of sketches that established him as an international celebrity. “Remarkably, in its day, The Clockmaker was as popular as the work of Charles Dickens. But today its overt racism and misogynism makes it difficult to read,” she said.

Prof. Ruth Panofsky: On the History, and Collecting of, Macmillan Company of Canada

The Biblio File, October 3, 2010Online

URL: http://nigelbeale.com

Ruth Panofsky is Professor of English at Ryerson University in Toronto where she specializes in Canadian Literature and Culture, focusing on Canadian authorship and publishing history. She is the author of The Force of Vocation: The Literary Career of Adele Wiseman and is currently preparing a SSHRC-funded history of the Macmillan Company of Canada, 1905-1986. We met this past summer in Toronto to talk about Macmillan, its history and some of the more important books and authors it has published. This interview is part of our Book Publisher Series which focuses on the histories of important British, American and Canadian publishing houses, and how best to go about collecting their works.

Helen Weinzweig Turned Personal Pain into Beautiful Prose

Globe and Mail, February 23, 2010Online

URL: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/helen-weinzweig-turned-personal-pain-into-beautiful-prose/article1208937/?page=all

The author herself confessed as much in an interview with Ryerson English professor Ruth Panofsky, published in the 2008 book, At Odds in the World, Essays on Jewish Canadian Women Writers . Talking about Basic Black , Weinzweig said, "I did not write the novel to satisfy readers' expectations. It reflects my desire to belong to [a]bourgeois, nuclear family. The inherent conflict was to want it and to despise it." According to Panofsky, the central thrust of Weinzweig's stories is "her belief in the paradox that tragedy always lurks beneath the comfortable and conventional surface of everyday life."

Dr. Ruth Panofsky: The Story behind The Collected Poems of Miriam Waddington

Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, March 10, 2015Online

URL: http://www.ideas-idees.ca/blog/dr-ruth-panofsky-story-behind-collected-poems-miriam-waddington

Dr. Ruth Panofsky is Professor of English and also teaches in the Joint Graduate Program in Communication and Culture at Ryerson University. Her Collected Poems of Miriam Waddington, supported by the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP), has recently earned the prestigious PROSE Award in literature. We would like to thank Dr. Panofsky for sharing her experience working on this project of great and enduring value for Canadian literature.

Selected Letters of Margaret Laurence and Adele Wiseman
University of Toronto Press

Over a period of forty years, from 1947 to 1986, Margaret Laurence and Adele Wiseman wrote to each other constantly. The topics they wrote about were as wide-ranging as their interests and experiences, and their correspondence encompassed many of the varied events of their lives. Laurence's letters - of which far more are extant than Wisman's - reveal much about the impact of her years in Africa, motherhood, her anxieties and insecurities, and her developement as a writer. Wiseman, whose literary success came early in her career, provided a sympathetic ear and constant encouragement to Laurence.The editors' selection has been directed by an interest in these women as friends and writers. Their experiences in the publishing world offer an engaging perspective on literary apprenticeship, rejection, and success. The letters reveal the important roles both women played in the buoyant cultural nationalism of the 1960s and 1970s. This valuable collection of previously unpublished primary material will be essential to scholars working on Canadian literature and of great interest to the general reading. The introduction contextualizes the correspondence and the annotations to the letters help to clarify the text. The Laurence-Wiseman letters offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives and friendship of two remarkable women whose personal correspondence was written with verve, compassion, and wit.

The Collected Poems of Miriam Waddington Set (Canadian Literture Collection)
by Miriam Waddington
University of Ottawa Press

Miriam Waddington's verse is deceptively accessible: it is personal but never private, emotional but not confessional, thoughtful but never cerebral. The subtlety of her craft is the hallmark of a modernist poet whose work opens to the world and its readers. She details intoxicating romance and mature love, the pleasures of marriage and motherhood, the experience of raising two sons to adulthood, and the ineffable pain of divorce. As she moved through life, she wrote clearly and uncompromisingly about the vast sweep of Canada, her travels to new lands, the passage of time, the death of her ex-husband, the loss of close friends and, later, of growing old.

The Force of Vocation: The Literary Career of Adele Wiseman
by Ruth Panofsky
University of Manitoba Press

Adele Wiseman was a seminal figure in Canadian letters. Always independent and wilful, she charted her own literary career, based on her unfailing belief in her artistic vision. In The Force of Vocation, the first book on Wisemanís writing life, Ruth Panofsky presents Wiseman as a writer who doggedly and ambitiously perfected her craft, sought a wide audience for her work, and refused to compromise her work for marketability.     Based on previously unpublished archival material and personal interviews with publishers, editors, and writers, The Force of Vocation charts Wiseman’s career from her internationally acclaimed first novel, The Sacrifice, through her near career-ending decisions to move into drama and non-fiction, to her many years as a dedicated mentor to other writers. In the process, Panofsky presents a remarkable and compelling story of the intricate negotiations and complex relationships that exist among authors, editors, and publishers. 

The Literary Legacy of the Macmillan Company of Canada: Making Books and Mapping Culture (Studies in Book and Print Culture)
by Ruth Panofsky
University of Toronto Press

Fifth Business and Alligator Pie. Stephen Leacock, Grey Owl, and Morley Callaghan: these treasured Canadian books and authors were all nurtured by the Macmillan Company of Canada, one of the country's foremost twentieth-century publishing houses. The Literary Legacy of the Macmillan Company of Canada is a unique look at the contribution of publishers and editors to the formation of the Canadian literary canon.Ruth Panofsky's study begins in 1905 with the establishment of Macmillan Canada as a branch plant to the company's London office. While concentrating on the firm's original trade publishing, which had considerable cultural influence, Panofsky underscores the fundamental importance of educational titles to Macmillan's financial profile. The Literary Legacy of the Macmillan Company of Canada also illuminates the key individuals – including Hugh Eayrs, John Gray, and Hugh Kane – whose personalities were as fascinating as those of the authors they published, and whose achievements helped to advance modern literature in Canada.

Lifeline (Essential Poets 107)
by Ruth Panofsky
Guernica Editions

"In these gentle, perceptive lyrics, Ruth Panofsky voices the subtle intricacies of familial pleasure and its accompanying pain: the illness of a beloved child, the loss of a parent, the daily joy and quotidian sorrow family brings. Panofsky risks 'releasing into life' poems that illustrate both the attachments and the ruptures of family love." -Rhea Tregebov

Laike and Nahum: A Poem in Two Voices
by Ruth Panofsky
Inanna Publications
May 1, 2007

Poetry. "In spare, elegant, and superbly textured poetic language, Ruth Panofsky imagines the lives and thoughts of Laike and Nahum, evoking their hardships and struggles through the strength of remembrance, confronting with an open heart and a poet's eye the need to preserve and understand her ancestral and historical past through language and memory. By entering the everyday existence of two lives, Panofsky captures the complexity and difficulty of the immigrant experience, exploring the rhythms of a harsh Russian past moving toward an unk nown future in Montreal, of the efforts to raise a large family and earn a living, and of dealing with personal tragedy and the larger world. Panofsky weaves an intriguing, compelling, sometimes painful poetic story of love and family that does not flinch from the difficulties of the immigrant experience and shows the beauty of the human spirit"-J. J. Steinfeld.

Cultural Mapping and the Digital Sphere: Place and Space
University of Alberta Press
October 15, 2015

"Notwithstanding their differing approaches-digital, archival, historical, iterative, critical, creative, reflective-the essays gathered here articulate new ways of seeing, investigating, and apprehending literature and culture." - From the Preface This collection of fourteen essays enriches digital humanities research by examining various Canadian cultural works and the advances in technologies that facilitate these interdisciplinary collaborations. Fourteen essays in English or French survey the helix of place and space: While contributors to Part 1 chart new archival and storytelling methodologies, those in Part 2 venture forth to explore specific cultural and literary texts. Cultural Mapping and the Digital Sphere will serve as an indispensable road map for researchers and those interested in the digital humanities, women's writing, and Canadian culture and literature.

Adele Wiseman (Writers Series 7)
Guernica Editions
November 23, 2001

This collection of essays details the complexity and diversity of author Adele Wiseman. Writing in several different genres, from children's books to plays and essays, Wiseman became one of the most renowned Canadian authors and won Canada's Governor General's award for her first novel, 'The Sacrifice'. With the success of her first novel at the age of 28, Wiseman came to prominence in both the United States and Canada quite early. Her second novel, 'Crackpot', about prostitution, has been the subject of current critical debate.

Adele Wiseman: An Annotated Bibliography
by Ruth Panofsky
ECW Press
August 1, 1992

Best known as the author of The Sacrifice and Crackpot, Adele Wiseman has also written children's stories, plays, and memoirs. There has been a significant quantity of criticism about her writing, from book reviews and interviews to more serious scholarly articles. All of this material is now available in Panofsky's unique work.

At Odds in the World: Essays on Jewish Canadian Women Writers
Inanna Publications
January 1, 2009

Cultural Writing. Jewish Studies. This book brings together essays that probe the articulation of Jewishness and femaleness. Showing how female Jewish identity is constructed in Canadian prose works that span the years 1956 to 2004, the essays speak to the writers' preoccupation with cultural identity and create a portrait of how it feels to be Jewish, Canadian, and female. Each contributor seeks to investigate her identity as a Canadian, a Jew, and a woman, as well as to critique prevailing notions of Canada as a country that embraces people of all faiths, of Judaism as open to female participation, and of Jewish women as submissive within marriage. As the first book to focus exclusively on writing by Jewish Canadian women, this collection aims to deepen and broaden the Canadian literary canvas.

The Publication of Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s The Clockmaker, 3rd Series

Published by Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada

September 30, 1993

With the success of The Clockmaker; or The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick, of Slickville, first and second series, Thomas Chandler Haliburton grew confident in his professional relationship with Richard Bentley, his British publisher, and secure in his international audience. This new assurance in his role as author shaped the events which led to the publication of The Clockmaker, third series (1840). It accounted largely for his continued popularity, as well as for his disingenuous treatment of Joseph Howe, Haliburton's colonial publisher whom he maligned in his text and in their professional negotiations. As was the case with the previous series, Howe suffered humiliation and financial loss in connection with The Clockmaker, third series. Haliburton's increased confidence forms a significant subtext throughout this examination of the latter part of the publishing history of The Clockmaker.

URL: http://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/bsc/index

Does Publishing History Repeat Itself?: From Macmillan to M&S

Published by University of Toronto Press Publishing Blog

January 16, 2012

Ruth Panofsky, author of The Literary Legacy of the Macmillan Company of Canada: Making Books and Mapping Culture, discusses the news of Random House of Canada’s acquisition of McClelland and Stewart.

URL: http://utpblog.utpress.utoronto.ca

Chava Rosenfarb’s Early Life Writing: "Bergen-Belsen Diary, 1945"

Published by Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal

November 1, 2015

This essay analyses Chava Rosenfarb’s Bergen-Belsen diary as a work of life writing that pays meticulous attention to details of voice, craft, and narrative development. Suffering gave her a subject and Rosenfarb turned to the diary as a means of recording and coming to terms with a life irrevocably altered by tremendous loss. That artistry shaped a work produced in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust confirms that Rosenfarb was first and always a writer. Moreover, that her writerly persona—not her actual person—emerged intact and mature from the unmitigated trauma of the death camp is evidence that writing was a source of solace and hope that helped carry her through to survival.

URL: http://wjudaism.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/wjudaism

Case Study: The Macmillan Company of Canada

Published by Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing

January 15, 2009

A flagship Canadian publisher, the Macmillan Company of Canada was a crucial catalyst in the shaping of Canada’s literary heritage from 1905 to 1986. Macmillan championed leading Canadian authors including Stephen Leacock, Mazo de la Roche, Grey Owl, W.O. Mitchell, Adele Wiseman, and many others. The company also launched some of Canada’s enduring classics, such as Donald Creighton’s John A. Macdonald (1952, 1955), Ethel Wilson’s Swamp Angel (1954), Hugh MacLennan’s The Watch That Ends the Night (1958), and Dennis Lee’s Alligator Pie (1974).

URL: http://hpcanpub.mcmaster.ca

"Head of the publishing side of the business": Ellen Elliott of the Macmillan Company of Canada

Published by Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada

September 30, 2006

This essay is the first to study Ellen Elliott's twenty-seven year career at the Macmillan Company of Canada as company secretary and director throughout the Second World War. Elliott was among the first women to hold a senior position in Canadian publishing. She helped consolidate the growth of Macmillan from a branch-plant operation to a mature publishing house and worked closely with writers Irene Baird, Audrey Alexandra Brown, Mona Gould, Frederick Philip Grove, W.O. Mitchell, P.K. Page, and E.J. Pratt.

URL: http://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/bsc/index

"I am being taught by my own work": Editor Claire Pratt of McClelland and Stewart

Published by Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada

April 30, 2012

This essay studies the career of Claire Pratt (1921–1995), who was at the vanguard of mid-twentieth century Canadian publishing. Pratt was one of the first women to enter Canada's book trade as a professional editor. At McClelland and Stewart, where she was senior editor from 1956 to 1965, Pratt made her most significant contribution to Canadian literary culture. She worked collegially with Jack McClelland, the charismatic head of the firm, and experienced firsthand the challenges and rewards of Canadian literary publishing. She also worked closely with English professor Malcolm Ross, who served as general editor of the firm’s paperback reprint series New Canadian Library, and directly with some of Canada’s most prominent writers, including parliamentarian Stanley Knowles, journalist Peter C. Newman, historian W.L. Morton, novelists Henry Kreisel and Margaret Laurence, and poet Irving Layton.

URL: http://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/bsc/index

"The skeleton in every publisher’s house": Readers Vivian Holland, Elizabeth Sturges, and Gladys Neale of the Macmillan Company of Canada

Published by WWR Magazine: The Official Magazine of Women Writing & Reading

September 30, 2007

Although relatively few readers’ reports remain in the vast Macmillan Company of Canada archive housed at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, it is possible to extrapolate from a cache of extant reports an understanding of editorial practices undertaken by Macmillan readers – the majority of whom were women – during the 1950s and 1960s. Three of those women – Vivian Holland, Elizabeth Sturges, and Gladys Neale – were instrumental in shaping the house identity and reputation of Macmillan.

URL: http://www.womenwritingreading.org

"A Press with Such Traditions": Oxford University Press of Canada

Published by Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada

April 30, 2004

Over the past one hundred years, and especially in the period following the Second World War when it was instrumental in developing Canadian letters and in shaping the culture of Canada, Oxford University Press Canada has retained the British tradition of publishing useful, important, and attractive books. As this essay shows, Oxford Canada developed as a largely autonomous branch of its parent company in England. Moreover, having weathered the vagaries of economic uncertainty that always have characterized the publishing industry in this country, Oxford remains committed to the production of Canadian books that reflect the "dignity of the business."

URL: http://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/bsc/index


Dr. Ruth Panofsky is Professor of English and also teaches in the Joint Graduate Program in Communication and Culture. She is affiliated with Ryerson University’s Modern Literature and Culture Centre (as a Research Associate) and Centre for Digital Humanities (as a member). Dr. Panofsky is also a member of Editing Modernism in Canada, an international collaborative project housed in Dalhousie University’s Department of English, and editor of Parchment: Contemporary Canadian Jewish Writing. Panofsky is a Fellow of Massey College, University of Toronto and has served as visiting professor of creative writing at Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany. She has received fellowships and grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Bibliographical Society of America, and the Bibliographical Society of Canada. In 2008, she received the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award for Poetry. Panofsky's critical edition of the collected poetry of Miriam Waddington was published in 2014 by University of Ottawa Press and won the 2015 PROSE Award for Literature, a 2015 Canadian Jewish Literary Award, and a 2016 J. I. Segal Award. Her current SSHRC-funded project is a study of women in English-language book publishing in Canada, 1930-2000. Panofsky has published widely in the field of book history and print culture in Canada. In addition to scholarly works, she has published two books of poetry; her articles, book reviews, and poems have appeared in scholarly periodicals, literary journals, and major Canadian newspapers.


Rosa and the late David Finestone Canadian Jewish Studies Award, J. I. Segal Awards, Jewish Public Library, 2016 | Professional

J. I. Segal Award for The Collected Poems of Miriam Waddington: A Critical Edition (University of Ottawa Press)

PROSE Award for Literature, Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, Association of American Publishers, 2015 | Professional

Literature Award for The Collected Poems of Miriam Waddington: A Critical Edition (University of Ottawa Press)

Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award for Poetry, 2008 | Professional

Poetry Award for Laike and Nahum: A Poem in Two Voices (Inanna Publications)

Canadian Jewish Literary Award, 2015 | Professional

Yiddish Award for The Collected Poems of Miriam Waddington: A Critical Edition (University of Ottawa Press).

Additional Titles and Affiliations

Member of Editing Modernism in Canada

Fellow of Massey College University of Toronto

Editor of Parchment: Contemporary Canadian Jewish Writing

Editorial Board Member of Canadian Jewish Studies

Advisory Board Member of Authorship (Ghent University)

Past Talks


All-Night Jewish Learning Festival 2016

Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, Toronto, June 11, 2016


Annual Jewish Book Fair 2006

Winnipeg, November 22, 2006


Annual Jewish Book Fair 2006

Toronto, November 12, 2006


Lakefield Literary Festival 1998

Lakefield, Ontario, July 18, 1998

Research Grants

Third-party recommenders (Periodicals and Publishers)

Organization: Ontario Arts Council
Grant amount: 1500


2001, Writers’ Reserve / Réserve des écrivains The Writers’ Reserve program is administered by third-party recommenders in the community.

More information: http://www.arts.on.ca/asset390.aspx?method=1

Winthrop Pickard Bell Research Fellowship in Acadiana

Organization: Mount Allison University


1989, for bibliographical research into Thomas Chandler Haliburton's The Clockmaker


Organization: SSHRC-CRSH
Date: April 1, 2010
Grant amount: 63737


Women in English-language Book Publishing in Canada, 1930-2000

More information: http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/transparency-transparence/disclosure-divulgation/grants-subventions/2010/april_2010.pdf


Organization: SSHRC-CRSH
Date: April 1, 2006
Grant amount: 62704


A History of the Macmillan Company of Canada

Postdoctoral Fellowship

Organization: SSHRC-CRSH
Date: April 1, 1991
Grant amount: 54336


The Publishing Career of Mazo de la Roche

Professional Writer's Grant

Organization: Canada Council for the Arts
Date: April 1, 1999
Grant amount: 20000


The Force of Vocation: The Literary Career of Adele Wiseman

Marie Tremaine Fellowship

Organization: Bibliographical Society of Canada


2005, for research into the Macmillan Company of Canada

More information: http://www.bsc-sbc.ca/en/tremaine_fellowship.html

Marie Tremaine Fellowship

Organization: Bibliographical Society of Canada


1990, for bibliographical research into Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s The Clockmaker

More information: http://www.bsc-sbc.ca/en/tremaine_fellowship.html

McCorison Fellowship for the History and Bibliography of Printing in Canada and the United States

Organization: Bibliographical Society of America


2013, for research into Women in English-Language Book Publishing in Canada, 1930-2000

More information: https://bibsocamer.org/awards/fellowships/previous-recipients/


Organization: Bibliographical Society of America


2005, for research into the Macmillan Company of Canada

More information: https://bibsocamer.org/awards/fellowships/previous-recipients/

Aid to Research Workshops and Conferences in Canada Grant

Organization: SSHRC-CRSH
Date: October 27, 2011
Grant amount: 19000


Canadian Women Writers: Space / Place / Play, Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC) Conference, Ryerson University


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