What is the Munro Beattie Lecture?

This annual distinguished lecture was launched in 1985 to honour the department’s founding chair and his contributions to literary studies in Canada.

An important principle of the lecture series has been to invite writers and critics who can speak on issues of importance to the general public, as well as the academic world. The first three lectures were given by Eli Mandel, Paul Fussell, and Northrop Frye, respectively. Since then the series has been an important annual event at Carleton, sponsoring a challenging group of literary critics and creative writers, including Linda Hutcheon, Robert Kroetsch, Jeanette Armstrong, Roy Miki, Carol Sheilds, George Elliott Clarke, Mark Kingwell, Eleanor Wachtel and Alistair MacLoed.

Who is Munro Beattie?

A classmate and friend of Northrop Frye at Victoria College, University of Toronto, Munro Beattie was a founding member of Carleton’s English Department and its chair for over twenty years (1953-1969). He built a department known for its collegiality, commitment to teaching and public service. A Henry James scholar and admired teacher, Professor Beattie was known in the University for his wit, civility, and humanity, and as an engaging conversationalist. His broad understanding of all the arts, including theatre, music, and the cinema, animated his teaching, his scholarship, and his many friendships.

Previous Munro Beattie Lectures:

Munro Beattie Lecture 2023-2024: Drew Hayden Taylor

November 4, 2023

Playwright, novelist, and documentarian Drew Hayden Taylor is originally from Curve Lake First Nation (home to the Mishi Saagig of the Anishinaabe nation). In “A Coming of Age: Indigenous Literature,” Taylor will speak about his own journey from growing up on the Rez to being a world traveler. His talk will examine the Indigenous condition globally and changes in contemporary Indigenous literatures that reflect that condition.

Munro Beattie Lecture 2022-2023: Waubgeshig Rice

March 11, 2023

Waubgeshig Rice is an author and journalist from Wasauksing First Nation. He has written three fiction titles, and his short stories and essays have been published in numerous anthologies. His most recent novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow, was published in 2018 and became a national bestseller. He graduated from the journalism program at Toronto Metropolitan University in 2002, and spent most of his journalism career with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a video journalist and radio host. He left CBC in 2020 to focus on his literary career. He lives in Sudbury, Ontario with his wife and two sons. His forthcoming novel, Moon of the Turning Leaves, will be published in October 2023.

Munro Beattie Lecture 2021-2022: Hannah Moscovitch

March 26, 2022

Hannah Moscovitch is an acclaimed playwright, TV writer, and librettist. Her work has won numerous awards, including the Fringe First and Herald Angels Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Trillium Book Award, the Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award, and the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize. She has been twice nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the Siminovitch Prize. The music-theatre hybrid production, Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story (co-created with Christian Barry and Ben Caplan), continues to tour internationally. Her latest play, Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes, premiered at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto in 2020 right before the pandemic and won the 2021 Governor General’s Award for English-language Drama. She lives in Halifax, NS, and continues to make work for television and the stage.

Munro Beattie Lecture 2020-2021: Seth

March 20, 2021

The 2020-2021 Munro Beattie Lecture will be delivered by the legendary Canadian comics creator who publishes under the name of Seth. Seth’s cartoons have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, McSweeneys Quarterly, and on the cover of The New Yorker. He is the creator of the comic book series Palookaville. Other books include It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken (1996), The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists (2011). His most recent book, Clyde Fans: A Picture Novel (2019) has been hailed by the New York Times as “a masterwork.”

Entitled “Inkwell’s End,” Seth’s talk will incorporate images into an overview of his career so far, from his childhood interest in comics and the work of the cartoonists who influenced him to his current and future projects.

To watch the Munro Beattie Lectures from 2021, 2022, and 2023

Munro Beattie Lecture 2018-2019: David Chariandy

January 31, 2019

A graduate of Carleton University, David Chariandy lives in Vancouver and teaches in the department of English at Simon Fraser University.  His first novel, entitled Soucouyant, was nominated for eleven literary prizes, including the Governor General’s Award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.  His second novel, entitled Brother, won the Roger’s Writers’ Trust Award, the City of Toronto Book Prize, and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and was longlisted for Canada Reads, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and the International Dublin Literary Award.  Brother was also named a ‘Book of the Year’ by a dozen periodicals including The Globe and MailThe National PostThe Toronto StarThe Montreal GazetteKirkus Reviews, Esquire Magazine, and The Guardian.  His latest book is of non-fiction entitled I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter.  Chariandy’s books have been published internationally and are being translated into ten languages.

Munro Beattie Lecture 2017-2018: Alice Notley

March 21, 2018

Celebrated as “one of America’s greatest living poets,” Notley is the author of over forty books of poetry and critical prose.She is the recipient of numerous prestigious literary awards, including the Griffin International Poetry Prize for her book Disobedience in 2002. The Mysteries of Small Houses was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1999.

Munro Beattie Lecture 2016-2017: André Alexis

January 26, 2017

Alexis was awarded the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel Fifteen Dogs, part of a projected five-part series of novels, each one involving the conventions of a different genre. His most recent novel, The Hidden Keys, was published September 2016.

Munro Beattie Lecture 2015-2016: Joseph Boyden

October 21, 2015

After shooting to literary fame with his first novel, Three Day Road, Boyden won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for his second, Through Black Spruce. His most recent novel, The Orenda, was nominated for both the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award, and was the winning title on CBC Radio’s Canada Reads competition in 2014.

Munro Beattie Lecture 2014-2015: Lynn Coady

October 23, 2014

Carleton alumna and winner of the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize for her short story collection Hellgoing. Drawing upon examples from her work and experiences with readers, Coady’s talk, entitled “On Storytelling and Discomfort,” addressed the question of how the best, or at least the most honest, storytelling is that which makes the teller and the listener uncomfortable to varying degrees.

Munro Beattie Lecture 2013-2014: Eden Robinson

March 3, 2014

Eden Robinson’s first book, Traplines, a collection of short stories, won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1998. Monkey Beach, her first novel, was shortlisted for both The Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction in 2000 and won the BC Book Prize’s Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.  Her most recent novel is Blood Sports.

Munro Beattie Lecture 2012-2013: Paul Muldoon

November 15, 2012

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Griffin Poetry Prize, Paul Muldoon has been described by The Times Literary Supplement as “the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War.”

Munro Beattie Lecture 2011-2012: Adam Gopnik

 March 12, 2012

Adam Gopnik, a writer for The New Yorker magazine, is one of the most prominent writer-commentators in North America, and one of the most gifted essayists writing in English. He has won the National Magazine Award for Essays and for Criticism three times, and also the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting.

Munro Beattie Lecture 2010-2011: Don McKay

October 13, 2010

Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry for Night Field (1991) and Another Gravity(2000). McKay was also the Canadian winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize for Strike/Slip (2006).

Munro Beattie Lecture 2009-2010: Christian Bök

March 4, 2010

Prominent Canadian figure in the international scene of avant-garde writing, Christian Bök, presented his lecture, “Be Okay with an Umlaut (A Grand Tour through the work of Christian Bök)” on March 4, 2010.

Munro Beattie Lecture 2008-2009: Elizabeth Hay

March 11, 2009

Ottawa novelist Elizabeth Hay presented her lecture, entitled “The Writer as Returned Traveler” on March 11, 2009.

Munro Beattie Lecture Videos