David Bentley



Distinguished University Professor 
Carl F. Klinck Professor in Canadian Literature 
Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

B.A. (honours); University of Victoria; 1969
M.A.; Dalhousie University; 1970
Ph.D.; University of London (King's College); 1974
M.A. (Canadian Studies); Carleton University; 1975
Certificat de langue française; University of Paris (Sorbonne); 1969

University College 2424
519-661-2111 ext. 85813 or 85834 (Canadian Poetry Project) 


I have taught and studied English literature at Western since a little after The Rolling Stones' "Tour of the Americas" and a little before the birth of Katy Perry, which is a roundabout way of saying for eons. I specialize in Canadian literature and culture and in nineteenth-century English literature and art, especially, in the latter case, in the poetry and painting of the Pre-Raphaelites. At the heart of my work lie both a love of literature in and of itself and an enduring curiosity about the ways in which it serves as a crossroads (or crucible) where science, philosophy, religion, politics, aesthetics, economics, and psychological theories meet, interact, and find imaginative expression. This is reflected not only in the courses that I have developed and teach (including English 1022E: Enriched Introduction to English Literature), but also in the books and essays that I have written on the relationship of literature to the environment, to morality and spirituality, to personal and cultural memory, to architecture and dwelling, to shifting economic ideas and practices, and to imperialism, colonization, and settlement – as well as, of course, to art. It has also kept me continuously interested and engaged as a teacher in the history of English literature as a whole from Medieval to Modern (postmodern, not so much) and in the continuity of Canadian literature from the seventeenth century to the present. As can be seen from the series of essays entitled "Arts for Humanity's Sake" on my website (http://canadianpoetry.org), one of the other areas that interests – and concerns – me greatly is the role of the Arts and Humanities in contemporary education and society.   A further interest – in the practicalities (and the theory) of editing – is reflected in the fact that I am the founding and continuing editor of Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews and the Canadian Poetry Press, and the Director of the Canadian Poetry Project. If I were asked to name the awards and honours that have meant most to me, I would say the Killam Prize for Humanities because it reflects my contributions to Canadian literary scholarship and the 3M National Teaching Fellowship because it reflects the great importance that I attach to undergraduate and graduate teaching. 

I am happy to supervise graduate students in the following fields: Canadian literature and culture, Victorian literature and art, literature and architecture, literature and memory, and literature and  ecology.