Norman Ravvin, PhD
Professor , Religions and Cultures
Norman Ravvin is a critic, fiction writer, and journalist. His essays on Canadian and American Jewish literature are collected in A House of Words: Jewish Identity and Memory (McGill-Queen's). The essays included in this volume focus on such writers as Eli Mandel, Leonard Cohen, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Mordecai Richler, and Chava Rosenfarb. A House of Words also considers the role of multiculturalism, postcolonialism, and the Holocaust in the reception of Canadian writing. He is co-editor of The Canadian Jewish Studies Reader (2004), which includes two essays by him, focusing on Eli Mandel and Matt Cohen. His most recent fiction publication is the novel, The Joyful Child (2011, Gaspereau Press). Previous fiction includes Lola by Night, which appeared in Serbian translation, and the story collection Sex, Skyscrapers, and Standard Yiddish. A story from it will appear in the forthcoming New Spice Box Anthology of Canadian Jewish writing. Other books include Hidden Canada: An Intimate Travelogue (2001) and the novel, Cafe des Westens, which appeared in 1991 and won the Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism New Fiction Prize. He is the editor of Not Quite Mainstream: Canadian Jewish Short Stories (2001) and Great Stories of the Sea (1999). Recent articles include a chapter on Canadian Jewish writers in the Oxford Handbook to Canadian Literature (2016); essays on Irving Layton, Leonard Cohen, and A.M. Klein in his co-edited volume Failure's Opposite: Listening to A.M. Klein (McGill-Queen's UP, 2011). He contributed an introduction to George Walker's wordless biography of Leonard Cohen, which appeared in trade paperback and artist's special editions. Earlier work includes an essay on "memory tourism" in Poland in Canadian Literature, a chapter on Jewish identity in a collection called Religion and Ethnicity in Canada, and an introduction to the reissue of Gwethalyn Graham's Earth and High Heaven from Cormorant Books. He is at work on a novel set in Poland and Vancouver, which will be excerpted in a forthcoming anthology from Toronto's Guernica Editions.
As general editor of a series in association with Red Deer Press at the University of Calgary and the Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies, he oversaw the publication of books dedicated to Canadian Jewish writing and history. Among the publications from the Institute is Mordecai & Me: An Appreciation of a Kind, by Joel Yanofsky. Norman Ravvin acted as editor of this study, which won awards in Canada and the United States. The Institute brought out, in collaboration with Red Deer Press, Henry Kreisel's 1948 novel, The Rich Man. While chair of Concordia's Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies Ravvin oversaw two chapbook series focused on Canadian Jewish literature and history. The titles in these series include a long short story by Toronto writer Cary Fagan, and a translation of a document dealing with early Montreal Jewish history, by Ira Robinson.
PhD (University of Toronto)
Canadian Jewish Studies
Religion and Literature
Contemporary Canadian and American Literature
Memoir and Creative Writing
Jewish Eastern Europe, esp. Poland
Religion and Literature
Creative Writing and Autobiography
Contemporary Religions and Popular Culture
Theory, Ethics, and Philosophy
The Joyful Child. Gaspereau Press, 2011.
Failure's Opposite: Listening to A.M. Klein. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2011.
Canadian Literature, an issue on Mordecai Richler (co-edited with Nathalie Cooke). UBC (Winter, 2010).
"Words, Music, Image." Introduction to The Wordless Leonard Cohen Songbook by George Walker. 2014.
"The War and Before: Responses in Mainstream Canadian Literary Life" in Nazi Germany, Canadian Responses, Confronting Antisemitism in the Shadow of War. McGill-Queen's, 2012.
Involvement with the more recent Hungry I Chapbooks:
Hungry I Chapbooks' Blessing (2009), includes an essay entitled "Kaddish in Literature."
Hungry I Chapbooks' translation of Franz Kafka's Josephine the Singer or The Nation of the Mice, trans. Karin Doeer, Barbara Galli and Gary Evans.
Hungry I Chapbooks' Shuln and Shulelach: Large and Small Synagogues in Montreal and Europe, by Sara Ferdman Tauben, 2008.
Hungry I Chapbooks' Opening The Star: Three Responses to the New Translation of Franz Rosenzweig's The Star of Redemption, 2005.
Areas of teaching and research interest include Jewish literature, Holocaust Studies, Canadian and American literature, Creative Writing, Biblical literature, Religion and literature, Yiddish, Jewish eastern Europe, memoir, and music.
Recent graduate seminars and reading courses
Hebrew Bible and Contemporary Literature
Jewish Eastern Europe
Autobiography and Jewish Identity
Religion and Literature
Contemporary North American Jewish Culture