Call Number: Mss 211, Pc 88 (A.05-45, A.07-03)
Title: Neil Kalman Besner fonds.
Dates: 1972-2006, predominant 1991-2006.
Extent: 0.62 m of textual records. -- 6 photographs.
Biographical sketch: Neil Kalman Besner was born
in Montreal, Quebec in 1949. He spent much of his childhood in Brazil
after his family left Canada in the mid-1950s. He attended high
school and began university in the United States but returned to
Canada in 1970. He completed a B.A. (Honours English) at McGill
University in 1972, an M.A. in American literature at the University
of Regina in 1974, and a Ph.D. in Canadian literature at the University
of British Columbia in 1983. His dissertation was titled Mavis
Gallant’s Short Fiction: History and Memory in the Light of
Imagination. After four years as an instructor in English at
Mount Royal College, he joined the faculty of the University of
Winnipeg in 1987 as an assistant professor. He became an associate
professor in 1990, Chair of the Department of English in 1993, and
full professor in 1995. After serving on the Board of Regents and
on a number of administrative and academic committees, he became
Dean of Humanities, University of Winnipeg on May 1, 2002. As of
2005, Besner continued to hold this position.
Besner has written The Light of Imagination: Mavis Gallant’s
Fiction (University of British Columbia Press, 1988), Introducing
Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women (ECW Press, 1990),
completed an English translation of Carmen Oliveira’s Rare
and Commonplace Flowers: The Story of Elizabeth Bishop and Lota
de Macedo Soares (Rutgers University Press, 2003), and edited
The Short Story in English (Oxford University Press, 1991)
with David Staines, and Uncommon Wealth: An Anthology of Poetry
in English (Oxford University Press, 1997) with Deborah Schnitzer
and Alden Turner. In 1995 he edited a special issue of Prairie
Fire magazine that focused on Carol Shields. He later edited
Carol Shields: The Arts of a Writing Life (Prairie Fire
Press, 2003), which included works by many of the contributors to
the special issue of Prairie Fire. In his role as president
of the Linguistic Circle of Manitoba and North Dakota (LCMND), Dr.
Besner provided an overview of Carol Shields’ life and work
in a speech entitled “The Great Canadian Shields” to
the LCMND on October 28, 1994. The text of this speech can be found
in the Linguistic Circle of Manitoba and North Dakota fonds (MSS
SC 166). Dr. Besner has also authored numerous scholarly articles
and reviews and provided commentary to CBC Radio and the Winnipeg
Free Press. Dr. Besner speaks French, Spanish and Portuguese
in addition to English. As of 2007, his primary area of interest
continued to be Canadian literature.
Custodial history: The fonds was donated to University
of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections by Neil Kalman Besner
in July 2005 (A.05-45) and 2007 (A.07-03).
Scope and content: The fonds is divided into eleven
series: curriculum vitae, published articles, notes and correspondence
for the translation of Rare and Commonplace Flowers, correspondence
regarding Uncommon Wealth, correspondence and contributors’
submissions to the Carol Shields issue of Prairie Fire
and to Carol Shields: The Arts of a Writing Life, reading
scripts for unpublished lectures and addresses, an unpublished short
story and unpublished novel, a file marked “miscellaneous”
by donor that contains cards, certificates, poems and some correspondence,
letters to donor from writers and critics, two colour photographs,
and copies of books written or edited by the donor.
Source of supplied title: Title based on provenance
of the fonds.
Restrictions: There are no restrictions on this
Accruals: Further accruals to this fonds are expected.
Related material: Linguistic Circle of Manitoba
and North Dakota fonds (MSS SC 166).
Finding aid: A printed finding aid is available
in the Archvies reading room and an on-line finding aid is available
at the link below:
211, PC 88 (A.05-45, A.07-03).