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“Betts has created not only an invaluable archive of what it means to be ‘modern’ in Canada – the writings read like a cross-section of compacted layers social, material, and spiritual crisis in urban and rural Canada, but … he offers a unique, avant-garde key to understanding modernism itself as an expression of cosmopolitan and global, permeated and transformed by national and local, anxieties and wishes for what constitutes human identity and society.”

-Dr. Glenn Willmott, University of Toronto Quarterly


Current Positions

Professor, Department of English Language & Literature, Brock University

Past President, Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English

Associate Director, Social Justice Research Institute, Brock University



Finding Nothing: The VanGardes, 1959-1975. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2021. 392 p.

  • Winner of the 2022 Basil-Stuart Stubbs Book Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia
  • Winner of the 2022 Gabrielle-Roy Prize

Avant-Garde Canadian Literature: The Early Manifestations. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013. 328 p.

  • Short-listed Finalist for the 2014 Gabrielle-Roy Prize


Books Edited

Avant Canada - Poets, Prophets, Revolutionaries



Peer-Reviewed Editions

Editor and Introduction. They Have Bodies: A Realistic Novel in Five Acts. By Barney Allen. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2020.

Co-Editor and Introduction with Christian Bök. Avant Canada: Artists, Prophets, Revolutionaries. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2019.

Co-Editor and Introduction with Paul Hjartarson and Kristine Smitka. Counterblasting Canada: Marshall McLuhan, Wyndham Lewis, Sheila Watson, and Wilfred Watson. University of Alberta Press, 2016.

Editor and Introduction. The Wrong World: Bertram Brooker’s Stories and Essays. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2009.



Editor and Introduction. Space Between Her Lips: The Selected Poetry of Margaret Christakos. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2017.

Co-Editor and Afterword with Derek Beaulieu. RUSH: What Fuckan Theory; A Study uv Langwage. By bill bissett. Toronto: BookThug, 2012.

Editor and Introduction. Lawren Harris In the Ward: His Poetry and Painting. Toronto: Exile Editions, 2007. Second edition modified to Contrasts: Lawren Harris In the Ward: A Book of Poetry and Paintings. Toronto: Exile Editions, 2012.

Editor and Introduction. After Exile: A Raymond Knister Poetry Reader. Toronto: Exile Editions, 2003. Second edition 2012.

Assistant Editor. W.W.E. Ross: Irrealities, Sonnets & Laconics. Editor Barry Callaghan. Toronto: Exile Editions, 2003.


Edited Scholarly Journals

Belfield Literary Review. A Special Issue on “New Trans-Atlantic Dialogues.” Co-edited with Lucy Collins. 1 (Summer 2021). Published July 2021.

Canadian Literature. A Special Issue on “The Concept of Vancouver”. Co-edited with Julia Polyck-O’Neill. 235 (Winter 2017). Published Fall 2018.

Jacket2. A Special Feature on “Avant Canada: On the Canadian avant-garde.” Co-edited and Introduction with Katie Price.

Open Letter. A Special Issue on Surrealism in Canada. Co-edited with Beatriz Hausner. 15.3 (Summer 2013).


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