Orlando cover art


Written by: Karen Bourrier & Kathryn Holland
  • Summary

  • This is Orlando, a podcast about the history of women's writing from medieval times to the present. Hosted by Karen Bourrier and Kathryn Holland, edited by Jessica J. Khuu.
    This work is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0
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  • Episode 12: Mishuana Goeman / Heid E. Erdrich
    Nov 8 2022

    This episode is about Indigenous women’s writing, technology, and community in contemporary American culture. We interview Mishuana Goeman about Heid E. Erdrich, a Turtle Mountain Ojibwe writer whose body of work experiments with multigenre, multimedia expression and places poetry at its centre.  We discuss poems from several collections by Erdrich, titled National Monuments, Cell Traffic and Curator of Ephemera, along with Erdrich's cookbook, titled Original Local.

    In her standalone video-poem or “poemeo” titled “Pre-Occupied,” Erdrich delves into the many and nuanced meanings of “occupation” in American natural and cultural spaces, identifying Indigenous cultures as the original 100% of America, now recorded at 1% of its population, who seek to protect their homelands from environmental destruction and other forms of invasion. To produce the poemo, which brings together collage and animation, Erdrich collaborated with visual artists and musicians; their cultural touchstones include Langston Hughes and a Superman cartoon. Produced in 2013, the poemeo is bracketed by the Occupy Wall Street and Idle No More movements, and it traverses centuries of experience at the same time.

    Kinship concepts and practices permeate Erdrich’s work: she has commented, for instance, on how the term “poemeo” was developed by her daughter and sister, the latter of whom is the well-known writer Louise Erdrich. In our discussion, we consider the place of publishing and bookselling as part of the intellectual and material conditions of the Erdrichs’ community, with a look at their establishment of Wiigwaas Press and Birch Bark Books, specializing in Indigenous writing and art, in Minneapolis and Heid’s additional focus on editing anthologies that highlight and make accessible the work of recent and current Indigenous authors for wide public audiences. 

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    26 mins
  • Episode 11: Alice Munro / Annie Murray
    Jun 28 2022

    This is Orlando, a podcast about the history of women's writing from medieval times to the present. 

    In this episode, we visit the archives at the University of Calgary and conduct a live interview about archival work, Canadian literature, and women’s writing in the twentieth century. 

    We talk to Annie Murray about Alice Munro, a twentieth century writer who is said to have revolutionized the architecture of short stories, exploring the movement of characters either backward or forward in time. Her first collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, published in 1968, went on to win Canada's highest literary prize – the Governor General's Award. In 2013, Munro received the Nobel Prize, making her the thirteenth woman to receive a nobel prize for literature. 

    Munro said, “I don’t think about a particular form, I think more about fiction … I want to tell a story, in the old-fashioned way—what happens to somebody—but I want that ‘what happens’ to be delivered with quite a bit of interruption, turnarounds, and strangeness. I want the reader to feel something is astonishing—not the ‘what happens’ but the way everything happens."

    Munro’s stories often centre the tangled relationships between men and women, small-town existence, and the fallibility of memory, which readers trace to her background growing up during the Great Depression in rural Huron County, Ontario. As Munro once told an interviewer, “I made stories up all the time. I had a long walk to school, and during that walk I would generally make up stories. As I got older the stories would be more and more about myself, as a heroine in some situation or other, and it didn't bother me that the stories were not going to be published to the world immediately, and I don't know if I even thought about other people knowing them or reading them. It was about the story itself, generally a very satisfying story from my point of view”

    We discuss how Munro’s texts made their way to the University of Calgary, and the textual scraps of Munro’s stories as documented by the archives. We take a close look at the drafts of one well-known Munro story, “Royal Beatings,” which tells the story of a young girl’s family life in western Ontario during the Great Depression. We also discuss the intersection between life and story through the non-textual traces of her life – from coffee stains to childrens’ drawings, each manuscript and letter bears the mark of Munro’s daily existence, not unlike her stories themselves. 

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    25 mins
  • Episode 10: Alice King / Vanessa Warne
    Jun 21 2022

    This is Orlando, a podcast about the history of women's writing from medieval times to the present.

    This episode is about technology, disability, and women’s writing in the nineteenth century.

    We talk to Vanessa Warne about Alice King, a nineteenth-century novelist who was also a blind woman. Writing in The Girl’s Own Paper about her experience of blindness, King assures her readers that loss of sight is nothing to fear.

    She writes: “As a child I was peculiarly bold and fearless; indeed, my blindness seemd to make me braver than others of my age… I did not fear darkness, because I needed no light. I learned to ride on horseback, and was a bold horsewoman, sitting in my saddle with as much ease and confidence as if I was in an armchair.” 

    As a child, King’s parents read aloud to her, and her mother tried to improve her memory by having her memorize verse. She remembers “My capacity for writing began to develop at a very early age, and broke out into little ripples of verse almost as soon as I could speak. It seemed to come naturally to me, like song to a young thrush.”

    Disability brings the relationship between writing and technology to the foreground. The nineteenth century saw the invention of several technologies that improved the access of people with vision impairment to print material. The development of Braille allowed some to read through their fingertips. And the typewriter, which became commercially available in the 1870s, helped those who were sighted and those with vision impairment alike to compose legible manuscripts quickly and efficiently. 

    We also discuss the broader importance of disability and language. Even today, ableism, the presumption that able-bodied people are superior to those with physical disabilities, permeates our language. We discuss the harms of using terms like “shortsighted” and “myopic” metaphorically to discuss shortcomings that have nothing to do with impaired vision.

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    25 mins

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