Placeholder Profile Image

Dr. Jonathan Kertzer, Hon BA, PhD


Professor Emeritus

Faculty of Arts , Department of English


Educational Background

Honour B.A. English Literature, University of Toronto, 1968

Ph.D English Literature, Cambridge, 1972


Professional Description

I specialize in modern British literature – the first half of the twentieth century – and Canadian literature, with special attention to modernism and literary history.  I have written on poetics, fiction, and national literary history, as well as on rhetoric (rhetorical questions, the rhetoric of insult and intimacy).  An earlier book, "Poetic Argument," is concerned with the rationality of modernist poetics.  My next book, "Worrying the Nation," is devoted to the problem of imagining a national literary history in multicultural Canada.  My last book, "Poetic Justice and Legal Fictions," examines literary ethics and its formulations of justice as expressed in literary structures.  I have secondary interests in ethnic literature, especially Jewish, and in teaching Shakespeare.



Kertzer, Jonathan. Poetic Justice and Legal Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Kertzer, Jonathan. Worrying the Nation: Imagining a national literature in English-Canada.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998.

Kertzer, Jonathan. "That House in Manawaka": Margaret Laurence's "A Bird in the House."  Toronto: ECW Press, 1992..

Kertzer, Jonathan. Poetic Argument: Studies in Modern Poetry.  Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's Press, 1989.

Kertzer, Jonathan.  Margaret Laurence and her Works. Toronto: ECW Press, 1987.

Selected Journal Articles - Peer Reviewed

Kertzer, Jonathan. “Amitav Ghosh’s zubben: Confluence of languages in the Ibis trilogy.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 53 (2017). 1-13.

Kertzer, Jonathan.  “Countercheck Quarrelsome.” Review article: The Oxford Book of Canadian Literature. Canadian Poetry 78 (Spring/Summer 2016). 100-113.

Kertzer, Jonathan. "Flouting and Scouting: Rules and Heroic Exceptions." Law and Literature 27.3 (2015): 417-44.

Kertzer, Jonathan. "Time's Desire: Literature and the Temporality of Justice.” Law, Culture and the Humanities 5.2 (2009): 266-287.

Kertzer, Jonathan. "The course of a particular: On the Ethics of Literary Singularity.” Twentieth-Century Literature 50.3 (2004): 207-238.

Kertzer, Jonathan. "Life Plus Ninety-Nine Years: W. S. Gilbert and the Fantasy of Justice.” Mosaic 36.2 (2003): 1-18.

Kertzer, Jonathan. "Justice and the Pathos of Understanding in Michael Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost." English Studies in Canada. 29.3-4 (2003): 116-138.

Kertzer, Jonathan. "Destiny into Chance: S. J. Duncan's The Imperialist and Perils of Nation Building.” Studies in Canadian Literature / Études en littérature canadienne 24.2 (1999): 1-34.

Kertzer, Jonathan. "Present Vindictive: A Rhetoric of Insults.” The Centennial Review 38. (1994): 49-74.

Kertzer, Jonathan. "Rhetorical Questions: Consensus, Authority, Enigma.” Language and Style 20.3 (1987): 242-256.