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Sharing the Past is an unprecedentedly detailed account of the intertwining discourses of Canadian history and creative literature. When social history emerged as its own field of study in the 1960s, it promised new stories that would bring readers away from the elite writing of academics and closer to the everyday experiences of people. Yet, the academy's continued emphasis on professional distance and objectivity made it difficult for historians to connect with the experiences of those about whom they wrote, and those same emphases made it all but impossible for non-academic experts to be institutionally recognized as historians.
Drawing on interviews and new archival materials to construct a history of Canadian poetry written since 1960, Sharing the Past argues that the project of social history has achieved its fullest expression in lyric poetry, a genre in which personal experiences anchor history. Developing this genre since 1960, Canadian poets have provided an inclusive model for a truly social history that indiscriminately shares the right to speak authoritatively of the past.