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Karl E Jirgens

Digital media are dramatically transforming the way people think about literature, according to Karl Jirgens who served as Head of the University of Windsor English Dept. from 2004 to 2009. No longer content with the simple printed form, many literary artists are incorporating a variety of visual and aural art forms into the presentation of their works as they embrace new digital technology. The literary expressions of artists who use language combined with digital technology redefine the relationship between artist, artwork and audience by engaging the observer directly in the generation of meaning,” he says. Jirgens’ research on the topic is being prepared for a book-length scholarly study which will include a broad range of digital components. Last year, Jirgens presented three papers on the subject when he attended the 2009, Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE) conference, and the Society for Digital Humanities session at the Congress of Social
Science and Humanities, at Carleton University. At the 2010 Congress (Concordia University, Montreal), Jirgens presented a talk for ACCUTE on new frontiers in writing and how University programs can generate dynamic intersections with the publishing world. Karl Jirgens was born and raised in Toronto. He completed his doctoral studies at York University (1990) with the grade of “distinction” (highest grade possible).

Karl Jirgens is the author of four books including two works of fiction including Strappado published by Coach House Press (1985), and A Measure of Time (1995) published by Mercury Press. He has and two book-length scholarly studies published by ECW Press including Bill Bissett and His Works (1992), and Christopher Dewdney and His Works (1996). He has edited several books, including on Canadian painter, Jack Bush (Coach House, 1997, assembled with essay by Michael Burch), as well as, Children of the Outer Dark: The Poetry of Christopher Dewdney (with introductory essay by Jirgens), published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. His scholarly articles on postmodern/ postcolonial literature appear in international journals such as La Revista Canaria de Etudio Ingleses (Spain), Q/W/E/R/T/Y (France), Open Letter (Canada), and World Literature Today (USA).  He wrote the entry on Jacques Lacan for the Dictionary of Literary Biography edition on Twentieth Century European Cultural Theorists. His short fictions and creative articles appear in Canadian journals such as The Tamarack Review, Only Paper Today, Impulse, Descant, The Journal of Canadian Fiction, Inter, Filling Station, and internationally in The Ontario Review (USA), Tyuonyi (USA), UNIverse (Germany), Essex (USA), the International Symposia of Concrete & Visual Poetry (Australia), and Offerte Speciale (Italy), among others.  His fictional works have been anthologized by Coach House Press, Black Moss Press, and Mercury Press. He has over 100 articles in print. In addition, he has presented his inter-media performances at international Festivals in the U.S. and Canada, including the prestigious INTER Fest in Quebec City. Jirgens is currently writing a novel based partly on the Cold War and the experiences of Baltic immigrants to Canada.

In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Jirgens is a grand-master of the martial art of Tae Kwon Do. He currently holds an 8th Degree Black Belt and serves as the Vice-President and Secretary General of the RTF (Royal Tae Kwon Do Federation – Headquarters, Toronto, under the auspices of RTF President Son, Myung Soo, 9th Degree Grandmaster). Jirgens is the founder of two martial art schools including in Sault Ste. Marie, and Windsor (Canada) which include over 100 practitioners.

Jirgens has taught at the Universities of Toronto, York University, Guelph University, Humber College, Laurentian University (Algoma), and the University of Windsor. While at Laurentian he served as Head of the English Department and as President of the Faculty Association. While at the University of Windsor, he served as Head of the English Department (2004-2009). He is, or has been a member of numerous scholarly and literary organizations including The Modern Languages Association (M.L.A.), Association of Canadian University Teachers of English (A.C.C.U.T.E.), International Assoc. for Philosophy and Literature (I.A.P.L.), Northeast Modern Languages Association (N.E.M.L.A.), Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (A.A.B.S.), Writers Union of Canada  (W.U.C.), the Society for the History of Authorship Reading and Publishing (S.H.A.R.P.), and the Canadian Association of Chairs of English (C.A.C.E.).

Karl Jirgens editorial experience includes serving as Editor in Chief of Rampike Magazine since its inception in 1979. Rampike, an international journal of contemporary writing, art and theory, published twice per year. Rampike has presented alternative perspectives and innovative viewpoints since 1979, featuring articles by and interviews with some of the finest internationally celebrated authors, artists and critics including: Paul Auster, Kathy Acker, Russell Banks, Carl Beam, Charles Bernstein, Nicole Brossard, Chris Burden, William Burroughs, Joseph Beuys, George Bowering, Catherine Bush, Louis Cabri, Janet Cardiff, Grand Chief Matthew Coon-Come, Frank Davey, Christopher Dewdney, Jacques Derrida, Umberto Eco, Martin Esslin, Raymond Federman, Marty Gervais, William Gibson, James Gray, Tomson Highway, Kenneth J. Harvey, Dick Higgins, Susan Holbrook, Linda Hutcheon, Thomas King, Julia Kristeva, Robert Kroetsch, Robert Lepage, Lola Lemire Tostevin, Alistair MacLeod, Eli Mandel, Nicole Markotic, Eugene McNamara, Steve McCaffery, Norval Morrisseau, Dennis Oppenheim, bp Nichol, Joyce Carol Oates, Al Purdy, Nino Ricci, Harvey Pekar, Josef Skvorecky, Rosemary Sullivan, Ronald Sukenick, David Suzuki, Phillipe Sollers Fred Wah, and Mas’ud Zavarzedeh, among many others. Rampike has published special issues devoted to Indigenous cultures and has also included extensive coverage of Baltic writers and artists in both Europe and North America including Alexanders Pelecis, Andra Nieburga, Lars Vilks, Ints Plampe, Aleksandrs Caks, Vidis Inglevices, Valts Kleins, Larissa Kostoff, Banuta Rubess, Antanas Sileika, Juri Talvet and Juris Kronbergs, to name only a few.  Rampike has been praised by world-renowned critics such as Frank Davey (University of Western Ontario, Editor of Open Letter magazine),and Marjorie Perloff (Stanford University), and is distributed on four continents. For more information, google: Rampike. Editorial offices c/o;

Karl Jirgens has also served as a Reviewing Editor for Canadian Literature magazine, and The Journal of Baltic Studies for the A.A.B.S. (Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies), as well as, for IPSI journals, TAR and TIR (Transactions on Internet Research). He served as an Assistant Editor for Underwhich Editions, a small press featuring books and audio tapes by numerous recognized Canadian and international authors including; Bob Cobbing, Paul Dutton, Victor Coleman, Frank Davey, The Four Horsemen, bp Nichol, Gerry Shikatani, Lola Lemire Tostevin, Mary-Lou Rowley, David UU, Kate Van Dusen, etc. Under Frank Davey (Editor in Chief) Jirgens also served as Managing Editor for Open Letter Magazine (4th Series, No’s 6 & 7) for the special double-issue on Canadian "Pataphysics featuring articles on Linguistic Onto-Genetics by; Chris Dewdney, Robert Fones, Steve McCaffery, Opal L. Nations, bp Nichol, Steve Smith, and others. Earlier in his career, Jirgens served as an Editor/Publisher with 1W1 Communications, a small press specializing in books by noted Canadian artists including; Shelagh Alexander, John Brown, Iain Baxter, Eldon Garnet, Michael Snow and others.

Karl Jirgens has been active within the Baltic community. During the 1990s he served as Vice-President Publishing for the A.A.B.S. (Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies). He has numerous articles in print on the subject of postcolonial Baltic culture or Baltic diaspora including:

2007    “Silent Resonance: Antanas Silieka’s Woman in Bronze”, Lituanus Vol. 53:2, Summer 2007.pp. 5-24

2006    Baltic Postcolonialism  (Ed. Violeta Kelertes, U Chicago). Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi.

Nominated for the “Association for Women in Slavic Studies 2006, Heldt Prize”  -- Two articles published in this volume including Introductory essay: “Fusions of Discourse: Postcolonial/Postmodern Horizons in Baltic Culture”  (pp. 45-81), and a comparative essay on the writings of Aleksandrs Pelecis (Gopper Prize winner) and Agate Nesaule (American Book Award winner) “Labyrinths of Meaning in Aleksandrs Pelecis’ Siberia Book and Agate Nesaule’s Woman in Amber” (pp. 359-385).

2006    East Central European Cultural & Literary History (three entries) Edited by Linda Hutcheon & Mario Valdes  U of T (2000 words x 3).         pp. 138-142, & pp. 295-297.

"A Post-Colonial Reading of the Trickster in Baltic Literature."

"Censorship and the Texts of Aleksandrs Pelecis"

"Psychic Dismemberment: Anti-Colonial Identities in Baltic Literature."

Published On-Line:

2004    “A Kaleidoscopic Perspective of Latvian Culture” Essay, pp. 67-80, & “The Death of Anotal Korolov’s Kingdom” by Aleksandrs Pelecis, Jirgens’ translation from Sibirijas Gramata (The Siberia Book) , pp. 63-66, for the special “Latvian” issue of Descant magazine #124.

Guest edited by Larissa Kostoff & Banuta Rubess.

Jirgens continues to write, publish, and present his views in international venues. He currently lives in the city of Windsor (Canada), where he continues to teach as an Associate Professor, with the University of Windsor, Department of English Language, Literature and Creative Writing.

Karl’s book: Measure of Time
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