University of Calgary

Aritha van Herk

  • Professor

Office Hours


Professional Description

Aritha van Herk teaches Creative Writing, Canadian Literature and Contemporary Narrative.  

Supported by SSHRC research funds, she is currently working on a creative place-biography of Robert Kroetsch.  

Aritha van Herk is both a recognized scholar with a University Professorship, and an internationally recognized Canadian author whose work has been translated into ten languages. Her novels include Judith (1978), winner of the Seal Book Award, No Fixed Address: An Amorous Journey (1986), which was nominated for the Governor General's Award, and Restlessness (1998). Her experiments in creative non-fiction and ficto-criticism are available in A Frozen Tongue (1992), In Visible Ink (1991), and Places Far from Ellesmere: A Geografictione (1990). Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta (2001) served as the inspiration for the Glenbow Museum's permanent exhibition of the same name, launched in 2007. In This Place and Prairie Gothic (with photographer George Webber) develop the idea of geographical temperament as tonal accompaniment. Her most recent work, Stampede and the Westness of West, is a prose/poetry exploration of place and mythology. She is a Member of the Order of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, and she has received the Lorne Pierce Medal, awarded to recognize achievement of special significance and conspicuous merit in imaginative or critical literature in Canada.

Aritha van Herk's work is particularly recognized for her innovative approaches to prose and cross-genre writing.  She is well known in the broader community of the city, the province, and the country as a writer and a public intellectual. She is the editor of the “Brave and Brilliant” Series published by the University of Calgary Press. She has been an active editor and strong supporter of her many students' work since the mid 1980s.



van Herk, Aritha. Stampede and the Westness of West. Frontenac House, 2016.

van Herk, Aritha. The Age of Audacity: Fifty Years of Ambition and Adventure at Calgary’s Own University. University of Calgary Press, 2016.

·      van Herk, Aritha. Prairie Gothic. Photographs by George Webber, Text by Aritha van Herk. Rocky Mountain Books, 2012.

·      van Herk, Aritha. In This Place Calgary: 2004 – 2011. Photographs by George Webber, Words by Aritha van Herk. Frontenac House, 2011.

·      van Herk, Aritha. Audacious and Adamant: The Story of Maverick Alberta. KeyPorter, 2007.

·      van Herk, Aritha. Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta. Penguin, 2001.

·      van Herk, Aritha. Restlessness. Red Deer Press, 1998.

·      van Herk, Aritha. A Frozen Tongue: Selected Criticism and Ficto-Criticism. Dangeroo Press, 1992.

·      van Herk, Aritha. In Visible Ink: Crypto-frictions. NeWest, 1991.

·      van Herk, Aritha. Places Far From Ellesmere: a geografictione. Red Deer Press, 1990.

·      van Herk, Aritha. No Fixed Address. McClelland and Stewart, 1986.

·      van Herk, Aritha. The Tent Peg. McClelland and Stewart, 1981.

·      van Herk, Aritha. Judith. McClelland and Stewart, 1978.


Book Chapters

van Herk, Aritha. “Across the ‘Ocean of the Page’: Nischik and Kroetsch Gaining Ground.” Gained Ground: Perspectives on Canadian and Comparative North American Studies. Ed. Eva Gruber and Caroline Rosenthal.  Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2018 (211-222).

van Herk, Aritha. “Teaching, or Not Teaching, Creative Writing.” Writing Creative Writing: Essays from the Field, edited by Rishma Dunlop, Daniel Scott Tysdal, and Priscila Uppal, Dundurn, 2018, pp. 201-209.

van Herk, Aritha. “Tripping on the Threshold: Groping in the Dark.” In-Between—Liminal Spaces in Canadian Literature and Culture, edited by Stefan L. Brandt, Peter Lang, 2017, pp. 35-44.

van Herk, Aritha. “At Home or Nowhere.” Care Home Stories, edited by Sally Chivers and Ulla Kriebernegg, transcript Verlag, 2017, pp. 31-38.!/978-3-8376-3805-9/Care-Home-Stories.

van Herk, Aritha. “Lines on Biting into Kroetsch’s Lemon. Again.” Robert Kroetsch: Essays on His Works, edited by Nicole Markotic, Guernica Editions, 2017, pp. 176-181. 

van Herk, Aritha. “Ordinary Life in Alberta in the First World War.” The Frontier of Patriotism: Alberta and the First World War, edited by Adriana A. Davies and Jeff Keshen, University of Calgary Press, 2016, pp. 219-230.

van Herk, Aritha. “Nur keine Panik/Pas de Panique.” Writing Crisis,edited by Ursula Mathis-Moser, Innsbruck University Press, 2016, pp. 157-208.


van Herk, Aritha. “The Half a Mile of Heaven’s Gate.” How Canadians Communicate: Sports, edited by David Taras & Christopher Waddell, Athabasca University Press, 2016, pp. 361-375.


van Herk, Aritha. “A Bridge to Trieste.” Narratives of Encounters in the North American Triangle, edited by Waldemaar Zacharasiewicz and David Staines, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2015, pp. 383-394.

van Herk, Aritha. “A Rash, A Burn, A Bite: Inhabiting Canadian Skin.” Probing the Skin: Cultural Representations of Our Contact Zone, edited by Caroline Rosenthal, Dirk Vanderbeke, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015, pp. 176-190.

van Herk, Aritha. “Prepositional Domesticity.” The Worlds of Carol Shields, edited by David Staines, University of Ottawa Press, 2014, pp. 249-262.

van Herk, Aritha. “Naming and Becoming: Finding Love in the Klondike.” Critical Insights: Contemporary Canadian Fiction, edited by Carol L. Beran, Grey House Publishing, 2014, pp. 193-206.

van Herk, Aritha. “North. Of Beauty, Of Love, and Of Stairways to Heaven.” The Arctic Contested, edited by Keith Battarbee & John Erik Fossum, P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2014, pp. 303-318.


van Herk, Aritha. “Sixth-Century Tunic.” Every Object Has a Story: 100 Years at the ROM, House of Anansi, 2014, pp. 154-157.


van Herk, Aritha. “Curtailed by the Sublime: Canada, Nature, and the Contingencies of Beauty.” The Memory of Nature in Aboriginal, Canadian and American Contexts, edited by Françoise Besson, Claire Omhovère, and Héliane Ventura, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014, pp. 54-72.


van Herk, Aritha. “Brave and Foolish Nonconformists.” The Literary History of Saskatchewan, Volume II: Progressions, edited by David Carpenter, Coteau Books, 2014, pp. 256-275.


van Herk, Aritha. “My Love Affair with Shrevlin McCannon.” Cultural Circulation: Dialogues Between Canada and the American South, edited by Waldemar Zacharasiewicz, Verlag der Oesterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2013, pp. 23-33.


van Herk, Aritha. “Hotel Hades.” Mobile Narratives: Travel, Migration, and Transculturation, edited by Eleftheria Arapoglou, Monika Fodor, and Jopi Nyman, Routledge, 2013, pp. 139-150.


van Herk, Aritha. “Shades and Sadness.” Shy, edited by Naomi K. Lewis and Rona Altrows, University of Alberta Press, 2013, pp. 67-74.

van Herk, Aritha. “Going Up and Down the Road: Reprise, Return and Restlessness.” Cultural Challenges of Migration in Canada, edited by Klaus-Dieter Ertler and Patrick Imbert, Peter Lang Editions, 2013, pp. 427-437.

van Herk, Aritha. “Kochen und Braten und Schmoren.” F(e)asting Fitness? Cultural Images, Social Practices, and Histories of Food and Health, edited by Annekatrin Metz, Markus M. Muller, and Lutz Schowalter, Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2012, pp. 87-95.

van Herk, Aritha. “Drowning in Bathtubs: Temptation and Terror.” Not Drowning But Waving: Women, Feminism and the Liberal Arts, edited by Susan Brown, Jeanne Perreault, Jo-Anne Wallace, and Heather Zwicker, University of Alberta Press, 2011, pp. 197-212.

van Herk, Aritha. “Inflitrating the Transcultural City: Fenestrations, Farthingales, and Factory Girls.”Reading Transcultural Cities, edited by Isabel Carrera Suarez, Emilia Duran Almarza, and Alicia Menendez Tarazzo, Editions U.I.B., 2011, pp. 43-59.

van Herk, Aritha. “Stygian Suitcases: Travel’s Temptation.” Riding/Writing Across Borders in North American Travelogues and Fiction, edited by Verlag der Oesterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Verlag der Oesterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2011, pp. 21-33.

van Herk, Aritha. “Invisible Ethnicity: Canadian Erasure, Vanishing Dutchness.” Aesthetic Practices and Politics in Media, Music, and Art, edited by Rocio Davis, Dorothea Fischer-Hornung, and Joanna C. Kardux Routledge, 2010, pp. 99-112.


van Herk, Aritha. “Turning the Tables.” National Plots: Historical Fiction and Changing Ideas of Canada, edited by Andrea Cabajsky and Brett Josef Grubisic, Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2010, pp. 131-147.

 Journal Articles

·      van Herk, Aritha. Afterword: “To the Lighthouse and Beyond: Five Memoirs of Women Scholars of Canadian Literature.” American Review of Canadian Studies, vol. 47, no. 3, 2017, pp. 300-319.

·      van Herk, Aritha. “Taking Stock, Reprise.” Studies in Canadian Literature, Special 40th Anniversary Issue: Canadian Literature: The Past Forty Years, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 49-64.

·      van Herk, Aritha. “The Sundance Kid: Simulacrum of a Visit.” Cultural Studies/Critical Methodologies, vol. 16, no. 1, 2015, pp. 68-74.

·     van Herk, Aritha. “Implicit Acts of Filth: the Parodic Virtues of Cleanliness.” TEXT, vol. 33: Art as Parodic Practice, 2015, pp. 1-12.

·     van Herk, Aritha. “Breathing Under Water: a Ficto-Critical Response to Gail Jones's ‘The House of Breathing.’” Special Issue on the Transatlantic Short Story. Journal of the Short Story in English, vol. 61, 2013, pp. 129-143.

·     van Herk, Aritha. “‘I have a Question.’ Robert Kroetsch: A Tribute.” Brick, vol. 88, 2012, pp. 148-150.

·     van Herk, Aritha. “‘Why Should We Forgive our Enemies?’ The Passions and Persuasions of Creative Writing.” Wascana Review, vol. 43, no. 1, 2011.

·     van Herk, Aritha. “Bawdy Bodies: Bridging Robert Kroetsch and bpNichol.” Special Issue, “Bodies of Canada,” Review of International American Studies, vol. 5, no. 1-2 2011, pp. 37-56.

·     van Herk, Aritha. “Ondaatje, Thieves, Thievery, and Theft: Fevered Handwriting.” Moving Worlds, vol. 10, no. 2, 2010, pp. 111-124.

·     van Herk, Aritha. “Ardently Archiving.” TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 20, 2008, pp. 155-166.

Student Supervision

Supervisor: Kathleen Brown, PhD Candidate, Creative Writing, English, University of Calgary.

Supervisor: Peter Forestell, PhD Candidate, Creative Writing, English, University of Calgary. Anticipated 2019.

Supervisor: Jane Chamberlin, PhD Candidate, Creative Writing, English, University of Calgary. Anticipated 2019.

Supervisor: Jordan Bolay, PhD Candidate, Creative Writing, English, University of Calgary. Anticipated 2019.

Member, Supervisory Committee: Rebecca Gelyn, PhD Candidate. Creative Writing, English, University of Calgary. Anticipated 2019.

Member, Supervisory Committee: Jess Nicol, PhD Candidate. Creative Writing, English, University of Calgary. Anticipated 2019.



Book Chapter


Edited Book

Journal Article

Research Groups

  • Creative Writing Research Group
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