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Honorary degree citation - Carol Shields*

By: Terence Byrnes, June 1998

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Carol Shields, a woman whose books have enthralled readers the world over and a teacher who both instructs and inspires.

Ms. Shields has published three books of poetry, eight novels, two collections of short stories, four plays and a book of criticism. She has come to wide international acclaim in recent years after the stunning popular success of The Stone Diaries and more recently, Larry’s Party. Just last month in London, Larry’s Party was awarded the prestigious Orange Prize, Britain’s most valuable fiction literary prize.

Among the gems in her earlier works are Small Ceremonies, and TheBox Garden, to name but a few. One novel, Swann, has recently been made into a feature film, with The Republic of Love and The Stone Diaries to follow suit shortly.

Her books have been translated into 24 languages and received numerous honours. This is but a small sampling; she has received the Governor General’s Award, the Canadian Booksellers Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and in 1995, the Pulitzer Prize. She has also been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the Gaurdian Fiction Prize and the Giller Prize.

In 1957, Ms. Shields completed her Bachelor or Arts degree, cum laude, from Hanover College in Indiana, the same year that she married Donald Hugh Shields. The other Dr. Shields is here today, and we are delighted to welcome him, both as our honorand’s husband, and as an esteemed colleague from the University of Manitoba where he serves as Dean of Engineering.

Mr. Chancellor, in 1975, Ms. Shields earned an MA in Canadian Literature from the University of Ottawa, whose English Department she joined a year later as a lecturer. She began her teaching career at the University of Manitoba in 1980, but spent two years away as writer-in-residence, first at the university of Winnipeg, and then back at her alma mater, the Univesity of Ottawa. She became a full professor at the University of Manitoba in 1995, and she was installed as Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg in 1996.

Ms. Shields is a member of the Royal Society of Canada and has received honorary doctorates from the University of Ottawa, Hanover College, Queen’s University, the University of Winnipeg and the University of British Columbia. By next week, she will be able to add her honorary doctorate from Concordia and from the University of Toronto to that list.

Her primary academic field has been Canadian iterature, women’s writing and feminist fiction, with particular emphasis on Susanna Moodie, who was the topic of her Master’s thesis, and Jane Austen, about whom she is currently writing a short biography. All of Carol Shield’s work, scholarly as well as literary, is characterized by intelligence, compassion and a close attention to the rhythms and colours of language. Her creative work flows from scholarly concerns and in the process, her expression of these concerns transcends established literary forms.

Mr. Chancellor, it is my privilage and an honour to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and the Board of Governors, Carol Shields, so that you may confer upon her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

* deceased

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