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This landmark study explores the cultural and literary history of unemployment in Canada from the 1920s to the 1970s, which were crucial decades in the formation of our current conception of Canada as a nation. Writing Unemployment asks how writers with diverse political affiliations participated in and protested against the discursive framing of unemployment. It argues that Depression-era conceptions of unemployment shaped later twentieth-century understandings of both worklessness and citizenship.

By examining novels, short stories, poetry, manifestos, and agitprop, Jody Mason situates the literary history of the cultural left in a broader context, challenges the dominant literary-historical narrative of the pioneer settler, and contributes to new scholarship on Canada’s modern period. By bridging close textual readings with book and publishing history, economic and sociological analysis, and original archival research, Writing Unemployment offers new ideas on work by many of Canada’s most important writers.

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