While the beginning of Italian-Canadian literature can be traced to the 1970s, few scholars have published on queer Italian-Canadian writing. In the last two years, however, a number of initiatives have helped bring attention to literary artists who identify as members of the two communities: LGBTQ+ and Italian-Canadian. The research leading to the publication of Here & Now: An Anthology of Queer Italian-Canadian Writing (2021) and the documentary film Creative Spaces (2021) – also known as the Queer and Italian-Canadian project – was instrumental in identifying the works of LGBTQ+ Italian-Canadian writers. This, in turn, has led to the Queer Italian-Canadian Artists research project at the Frank Iacobucci Centre for Italian-Canadian Studies.
Despite the normalization of LGBTQ+ people in Canadian mainstream culture, the Italian-Canadian community has lagged behind in public acceptance and valorization of their queer children and their works. For some, being queer and being of Italian origin is irreconcilable. Here & Now contributor Anna Camilleri, an openly queer Italian-Canadian creator for twenty-five years, states that even today people come to her in a whisper: “I’m also Italian and queer.”
Licia Canton will speak about the Queer and Italian-Canadian project and the Queer Italian-Canadian Artists research project. Drawing from each other, the two projects seek to produce new knowledge and create a platform where the intersection of queer and Italian-Canadian identities can be explored safely, openly, and creatively.
Licia Canton earned a Ph.D. in Literature at Université de Montréal and an M.A. at McGill University. She is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Accenti Magazine. Her writing (fiction, essays, poetry) has been anthologized in English, French, Chinese, Italian and Venetian. She has authored two collections of short stories: The Pink House and Other Stories (2018) and Almond Wine and Fertility (2008, 2018), published in Italy as Vino alla mandorla e fertilità (2015). Dr. Canton has published eleven books as (co-)editor, including two volumes on the internment of Italian Canadians during World War II. She is the editor of the groundbreaking volume Here & Now: An Anthology of Queer Italian-Canadian Writing (2021). She is the director of the 28-minute documentary film Creative Spaces: Queer and Italian Canadian (2021).
Dr. Canton is currently Emilio Goggio Research Fellow in Italian-Canadian Studies, and co-director of the Queer Italian-Canadian Artists project, at the University of Toronto. She was Visiting Professor and Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calabria in 2019, and Honorary Fellow in Translation at the University of Hull, U.K, from 2018 to 2021.
Since 2010 she has directed an internship program at Accenti Magazine, overseeing the work of students from Bishop’s University. She mentors emerging writers through the Quebec Writers’ Federation and evaluates manuscripts for The Writers’ Union of Canada. Licia Canton is currently president of the Association of Italian-Canadian Writers (AICW), a position she also held from 2010 to 2014. In recognition of her work in Italian-Canadian culture, Dr. Canton received the Italy in the World Prize-Premio Italia nel Mondo in 2018.
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All times stated in Eastern time.