Nathalie M. Cooke

 Nathalie M. Cooke
Contact Information
Email address: 
nathalie.cooke [at]

Arts W-30
Arts Building
853 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, QC H3A 0G5

Faculty Members
Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Specialization by geographical area: 
Great Britain
Specialization by time period: 
Archives & Bibliography
Genre Studies
History & Theory of the Novel
Areas of interest: 

women’s life writing; Canadian literature; social food studies; history of print; ephemera studies.


What are textual fingerprints of social change and how do they impact everyday life? This question has piqued my curiosity and driven my research across a variety of topics and periods. My conviction that literature, life writing and letters are our best windows to glimpse details of dailiness compels my scholarship.  

I am a Canadianist, with expertise in life writing, women’s writing, and primary source literacy. Much of my research in recent years has involved working in historical rare collections and with archival fonds. However, my publications and teaching also focus on contemporary Canadian fiction and poetry. My early studies looked to such writers as Margaret Atwood, Lorna Crozier, Mary di Michele and Audrey Thomas who told stories in the first person about women’s lives and the shifting social landscape in Canada and North America more generally. Subsequently, I looked to non-fictional sources: cookbooks, journals, correspondence, and such historical ephemera as newspaper columns and advertisements to find traces of the shifting landscape. The current book project,  Menu Matters, offers an illustrated exploration of what surprising stories historical menus can tell – through their words, but also in the non-verbal languages of design, illustration and food selection.


B.Ed., M.A., Ph.D. (University of Toronto)
M.A. (Cornell)
B.A. (Queen's University, Kingston)

Selected publications: 


with Shelley Boyd, Canadian Literary Fare (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2023)

Book cover of "Canadian Literary Fare" by Nathalie Cooke and Shelley Boyd With Alexia Moyer

Margaret Atwood: A Critical Companion (Greenwood Press, 2004)

Margaret Atwood: A Biography (ECW Press 1998)

Edited Volumes

with Fiona Lucas, Catharine Parr Traill’s The Female Emigrant’s Guide, Cooking with a Canadian Classic. (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017)

with Kathryn Harvey, The Family Treasury: A Collection of Household and Medicinal Receipts, 1741-1848 (Rocks Mills Press, 2015) 

with Norm Ravvin, "Mordecai Richler," Canadian Literature 204. (August 2011) 

What’s to Eat? Entrées in Canadian Food History (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009)

Founding editor of Cuizine: the Journal of Canadian Food Cultures, an online, born-digital, peer-reviewed and indexed journal published by the McGill Library. Érudit, Montreal: 2008- 

with Suzanne Morton, re-editions of Phyllis Brett Young’s novels The Torontonians (1960) and Psyche (1959) (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007-2008) 

with Donna Bennett and Russell Brown. An Anthology of Canadian Literature in English, Revised and Abridged (Oxford University Press, 1990)

Articles and Book Chapters

(selected papers available on SSRN | selected papers on Canadian Literary Fare)

 “’There Are as Many Sorts of Mango as of Apples’: The Gwillim Archive and the Emergence of Anglo-Indian Cuisine.” Women, Environment, and Networks of Empire: Elizabeth Gwillim and Mary Symonds in Madras. Eds. Anna Winterbottom, Victoria Dickenson, Ben Cartwright and Lauren Williams (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2023): 231-247.  

with Anna Dysert, and Merika Ramundo, “Edible Enigmas: Food Riddles and Enigmatical Bills of Fare?” in Collections Thinking: Within and Without Libraries, Archives and Museums. Eds. Jason Camlot, Martha Langford & Linda Morra. (Routledge, 2023): 75-90.   

“Reflecting on Home and Away – Over a Canadian Meal.” in A Taste of Home: Les saveurs de chez soi. Eds. Ylenia De Luca and Oriana Palusci (Guernica World Editions, 2022): 1-40.  

with Nora Shaalan, “Database Dishes.” in The Teaching with Archives & Special Collections Cookbook. Ed. by Julie M. Porterfield. (Association of College & Research Libraries, 2021)

with Leehu Sigler, Riddling Menus: A History,” Petits Propos Culinaires 120 (Prospect Books, 2021): 13-45. 

“Vanns Spices: Blending Food, Women’s Friendship and Business in 1980s Baltimore.” Food and Foodways: Explorations in the History and Culture of Human Nourishment. 28.4 (2020): 297-319.

“Montreal in the Culinary Imagination” in Canadian Culinary Imaginations, Eds. Shelley Boyd and Dorothy Barenscott. (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2020): 117-145.  

with Shelley Boyd and Alexia Moyer, “A Literary History of the Mandarin Orange in Canada.” Gastronomica, vol. 20 , no. 1, (Spring 2020): 83-89.

With Jennifer Garland, “Reflection: Lived and Idealized Self and Other in Women’s Journals,” in  Women and the Periodical Press in China's Long Twentieth Century: A Space of Their Own? , Eds. Michel Hockx, Joan Judge and Barbara Mittler (Cambridge University Press, 2018): 215-217. 

“Writing the Chinese Restaurateur into the Canadian Literary Landscape.” Studies in Canadian Literature. 42.2 (2018): 5-25.

with Alexia Moyer, “Measuring Out Life in Coffee Spoons: Canadian Literary Breakfasts.” CuiZine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures. 8.1 (2017). Released 12 June 2018.

“Stories of Rice Lake -- Stewards, Settlers and Storytellers,” Food and Landscape, Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2017. Editor, Mark McWilliams (Prospect Books, 2018): 99-109. 

"Lessons from Generations Past: Timely and Timeless Communication Strategies of Some Canadian Cooks of Note," Food and Communication, Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2015. Ed. Mark McWilliams. (Prospect Books, 2016): 131-142. 

"Canadian Food Radio: Conjuring Nourishment for Canadians Out of Thin Air." How Canadians Communicate. Ed, Charlene Elliott (University of Athabasca Press, 2016): 107-128. 

"Canadian Cookbooks: Changing Ideas about Cooking and Contamination, 1854–1898," Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 32.2 (October 2015): 297-318.

“Spreading Controversy: The Story of Margarine in Quebec.” Edible Histories: A Canadian Food History Anthology, Ed. Marlene Epp, Valerie Korinek, Franca Iacovetta (2012): 249-268. 

"Lorna Crozier," in Canadian Writers and Their Works, Vol 11., Ed. David, Lecker & Quigley (1995): 77-159. 

Reviews and Public Scholarship

Public Scholarship 

with Jacquelyn Sundberg, How encrypted Victorian newspaper personal ads shaped fiction like Sherlock and Enola Holmes,” The Conversation, 1 May 2023.

Study Guides 

“An Introduction to the Illustrated Menu Collection.” (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2022)

with Shelley Boyd, What is ‘Restaurant Literature’? Depictions of Chinese Restaurants in Canadian Literature, a CanLit Guide (a pedagogical initiative of the journal Canadian Literature), 2017. See here

Curated Exhibitions and General Audience Outputs 

with Ronny Litvack-Katzman, Jacquelyn Sundberg, Octavian Sopt, News and Novel Sensations: Victorian Novels and Newspaper Agony Ads. McLennan Library. 11 January – 31 March, 2023.  

with Kristen Howard, Leehu Sigler, Octavian Sopt, Jacquelyn Sundberg, Food for Thought: Riddles and Riddling Ways. McLennan Library. 1 February -1 July, 2022.  

with Irina Mihalache and Elizabeth Ridolfo, Mixed Messages: Making and Shaping Culinary Culture in Canada. Fisher Library, University of Toronto. 24 May 2018- September 2018. Catalogue: Mixed Messages: Making and Shaping Culinary Culture in Canada (Coach House Press, 2018).  

Awards, honours, and fellowships: 

Teaching Awards   

  • Scholarly and Research Communication Journal Innovation Award for "The CanLit Guides Project," 2019  
  • Royal Bank Teaching Innovation Awards, 2004, 1995 
  • Carrie Derrick Award for Graduate Teaching, McGill, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 2002 
  • Inaugural Louis Dudek Teaching Award for Teaching Excellence in the McGill English Department, 1996 

Scholarly Awards 

  • Society for the History of Natural History President's Medal for "The Gwillim Project," 2022  
  • Lifetime Honorary Member, Canadian Historians of Canada, October 2022 
  • Silver, in the Cuisine Canada Book Awards for What’s to Eat?, 2010 

Select Research Grants 

  • SSHRC Insight Development Grant, “Ciphers of the Times, Cryptic Communications in Victorian England”  
  • SSHRC Connections Grant. “PlayOn! What Happens When Libraries Play?”  
  • SSHRC Insight Development Grant. “Food For Thought.”  
  • SSHRC Connections Grant. “Rare collections at the heart of campus and community.”  
  • Co-investigator, SSHRC Insight Grant. "The Richler Library Project: Historicizing, Processing, Developing and Theorizing the Author’s Personal Library as Collection.”  
  • Co-investigator, SSHRC Insight Development Grant, Scripting Futures: A Narratological Investigation of How International Organizations Shape National Realities.
Graduate supervision: 

I would welcome expressions of interest from graduate students interested in any aspect of life writing or primary source research, especially referencing key markers of social change (food being my particular focus); Canadian literature; genres of riddle and narrative forms rooted in cryptic communication, including mystery; the shaping of cultural and literary taste.  

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