The Contemporary Leonard Cohen: The 2016 US Elections, SNL, and Applying Contemporaneity

Sponsored by Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Recorded on 12/06/2023
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 363

The Contemporary Leonard Cohen: Response, Reappraisal, and Rediscovery book cover

Following the 2016 US presidential election, Kate McKinnon, impersonating Hillary Clinton, performed a rendition of “Hallelujah” on Saturday Night Live (SNL). A week prior, the original singer and songwriter of “Hallelujah” Leonard Cohen had passed, leading to a cultural and political moment that acknowledged the election win for Donald Trump, loss for Clinton, and death of a beloved and politically relevant artist and public figure.

In this four-part series, coeditors of The Contemporary Leonard Cohen: Response, Reappraisal, and Rediscovery Kait Pinder (Acadia University) and Joel Deshaye (Memorial University) discuss this cultural juggernaut as an important building block for the title. Following a conference panel for the Association for Canadian and Québec Literatures after Cohen’s death, the book explores Cohen not only as a musical artist and lyricist, but as a literary figure and visual artist, tracing his political and social impact in his homeland of Canada and abroad. Kait and Joel use the concept of “contemporaneity” to frame the text, while contributors employ philosophical, literary, and fan studies theory to Cohen’s works. Further, the text applies a holistic approach to Cohen, acknowledging the pricklier aspects of his personal and political lives and how his rebellious image faded into the 21st century.

In this first episode, Kait and Joel discuss the title’s development, highlighting the SNL skit, Cohen’s death, and how both connected to the cultural landscape of North America in 2016. They also dig into their skillsets and how those aided in researching Cohen as he applies to contemporary thinking. Last, they contemplate their lens of contemporaneity, surfacing Cohen’s visual art, his relation to postmodernism, and the exhibit on Cohen at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal.


Kait Pinder headshot

About the guests:

Kait Pinder
Associate Professor, Department of English and Theatre
Acadia University

Kait Pinder is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Theatre at Acadia University. Her recent work has appeared in Canadian Literature, Studies in Canadian Literature, and The University of Toronto Quarterly.

Joel Deshaye headshot

Joel Deshaye
Professor
Memorial University

Joel Deshaye is a professor at Memorial University. His move to the East Coast stimulated his writing of The American Western in Canadian Literature (2022). His first book was The Metaphor of Celebrity: Canadian Poetry and the Public, 1955-1980 (2013), which focused partly on Cohen.


Enjoy the episode? Listen to the rest of the series:


Check out our previous series with Wilfrid Laurier University Press:
Creative Disruption in Scholarship
– Performing Female Blackness
– Canadian Poetry Today
– Animal Studies, Postcolonial Literature, and Multispecies Modernity
– Unpacking the Personal Library


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