Crean, Susan M. 1945-

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CREAN, Susan M. 1945-

PERSONAL: Born February 14, 1945, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; daughter of John Gale and Margaret Elizabeth (Dobbie) Crean. Education: University of Toronto, B.A. (with honors), 1967, M.A., 1969; attended the Istituto della Storia dell'Arte, University of Florence, 1965-66; diploma, Ecole du Louvre, 1970; attended York University, 1972-73.

ADDRESSES: Home and Office—17 Coady Ave., Toronto, ON M4M 2Y9, Canada. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Editor, critic, broadcaster, television producer, arts consultant, teacher, and journalist in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1970—. Television and radio projects include work on Canadian programs such as The Great Canadian Culture Hunt, Quarterly Report, The Uneasy Union, To Work Again, Hostages of History, There Never Was an Arrow, Quarterly Report/Tel Quel, A Question of Country, CBC Annual Report, Arts National, Night Lights, The Children's Crusade, Airwaves, and Eureka, Eh? Has served as a research and tutorial assistant at universities and colleges; lectured and presented papers on Canadian, feminist, and television issues at various locations; served on the Mayor's Task Force on Cultural Policy, Toronto, 1973-74; Canadian Copyright Institute, delegate, 1973-76, vice chair, 1976-77; board of directors of the National Youth Orchestra Association of Canada, 1974-85, chair of development committee, 1976-77; member of Ontario Selection Committee for the Canada Council Explorations Program, 1977-79; member of literary committee for Toronto Arts Council, 1985-88; member of board of directors of the Native Earth Performing Arts, 2001—; distinguished visitor to the University of Alberta, 1986; Maclean-Hunter chair in creative nonfiction and business writing at the University of British Columbia, 1989-90; journalism teacher, Ryerson Polytechnic, 2000-01.

MEMBER: Writers' Union of Canada (Chair, 1991-92), PEN, Creators' Rights Alliance/Alliance pour les droits des créateurs (founding cochair/copédente).

AWARDS, HONORS: Hubert Evans Award for nonfiction (in British Columbia), short-listed for the Governor General's Award for nonfiction, both 2001, both for The Laughing One: A Journey to Emily Carr.



Who's Afraid of Canadian Culture?, General Publishing (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1976.

(With Marcel Rioux) Deux pays pour vivre: Un Plaidoyer, Editions Cooperatives Albert Saint-Martin (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1980.

(With Marcel Rioux) Two Nations: An Essay on the Culture and Politics of Canada and Quebec in a World of American Pre-Eminence, Lorimer (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983.

Newsworthy: The Lives of Media Women, Stoddart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1984.

In the Name of the Fathers: The Story behind Child Custody, Second Story Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1988.

(Editor) Twist and Shout: A Decade of Feminist Writing in This Magazine, Second Story Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1992.

Grace Hartman: A Woman for Her Time (biography), New Star Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1995.

The Laughing One: A Journey to Emily Carr, HarperFlamingo (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

Contributor of articles, editorials, and reviews to periodicals including Canadian Forum, Books in Canada, Quill & Quire, Cinema Canada, Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, Canadian Women Studies, Canadian Art, Globe & Mail, Toronto Life, and Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory. Also contributor to numerous anthologies, including Women and Media Decision Making: The Invisible Barriers, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Free Trade Deal, Lorimer, 1998; Language in Her Eye, Coach House, 1990; Racism in Canada, Fifth House, 1991; Twist and Shout, Second Story Press, 1992. Member of editorial board for Canadian Forum magazine, 1976-79; member of editorial collective, This Magazine, 1979-90; contributing editor for Quill & Quire, 1982-85, Canadian Art, 1989-92, and Geist.

SIDELIGHTS: Canadian journalist, broadcaster, and producer Susan M. Crean has had a long career in the field of radio and television. Her work has been a part of shows such as The Great Canadian Culture Hunt, Quarterly Report, and Airwaves. In addition, Crean has parlayed her extensive scholarship of feminism and Canadian culture into several books, including Who's Afraid of Canadian Culture?, Newsworthy: The Lives of Media Women, In the Name of the Fathers: The Story behind Child Custody, and The Laughing One: A Journey to Emily Carr.

As its subtitle suggests, Newsworthy records and discusses the lives of Canada's most prominent women in radio and television. The book reports the advances made by women in the media, but also provides much information about equality yet to be gained. While women have indeed made great inroads in appearing in television and radio news and current affairs programming, they are still vastly underrepresented in the management segment of the media. Crean also addresses other ways in which gender discrimination and sexual harassment plagues her female colleagues. For instance, although the television news magazine show The Journal was the first of its kind to utilize two anchorwomen—Barbara Frum and Mary Lou Finlay—its debut, according to Margaret Wente's review for Quill & Quire, "was buried in mail from viewers criticizing their lipstick, their blouses, their earrings, and their hair." Another story Crean tells is that of Merle Shain, who was scheduled to conduct an on-air interview with Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner; a few moments before the interview was to take place, she was informed that her producer would do the interview, while she lounged in the set's background, she recalled, "in a nightie, in a bed, with two bunnies." Douglas Hill in Globe & Mail hailed Newsworthy as "a solid work of scholarship" that was also "extremely entertaining." Wente concluded that "Crean's book is instructive reading for women who wonder how to start a career in the media."

Crean tackled the subject of child custody rights in her 1988 book, In the Name of the Fathers: The Story behind Child Custody. In it she argues against mandatory joint custody laws in Canada, claiming that they have not worked well in California. She also states that "forcing … parents to carry joint decisionmaking responsibilities in the face of such obstacles as continuing acrimony can mean perpetuating the conflicts between them, perhaps exacerbating the conflicts which led to their separation in the first place." In addition, Crean cites statistics which conclude that most fathers do not want joint custody. Commenting on the author's own declaration that "this book is an attempt to raise the issue and sound the alarm," Lynn King in Books in Canada asserted that "Crean does both well, through heartbreaking examples and thorough analysis."

Grace Hartman: A Woman for Her Time is Crean's biography of an important figure in Canada's feminist and labor movements. The author chronicles Hartman's beginnings in these movements. At first guided by her mother-in-law, who introduced her to both socialism and the concept of women's rights, Hartman later became very powerful in some of Canada's largest labor unions. Crean depicts her protagonist as a practical woman who tied her favorite causes together—Hartman was often seen as a feminist who championed the concerns of working-class women, making sure that this group was not neglected by the middle class. In a review for Canadian Forum, Karin Jordan remarked, "Crean's treatment of Hartman is more that of cinéma vérité than of the authoritative 'voice-over' documentary, and she does a remarkable job of respecting the structural limits of the genre—even in the printed form." The critic went on to explain: "Layers of detail are wrapped around a collage of many voices, leaving the reader an imaginative space within which to grasp the complex politics of the Cold War era."

The Laughing One: A Journey to Emily Carr is a narrative illuminating Crean's search for the truth about one of Canada's most highly respected artists, Emily Carr. A great deal had already been written about Carr, who is remembered for her unusual personality as well as for her use of images of the indigenous people of North America, but Crean took an unconventional approach in examining how and why Carr has become a national icon. Ken Carpenter, a reviewer for Artfocus, explained Crean's unique technique as a mixing of genres. "Each chapter begins with a sort of historical fiction, with invented dialogue illustrating Carr's life, then moves on to a middle section of analysis and history, and concludes in a journalistic vein with accounts of Crean's research travels, presented in Crean's own voice." Crean's historical research incorporates some of Carr's never-before-published material and the historical fiction she offers includes conversations that may have occurred between Carr and pivotal people in her life, including American painter Georgia O'Keeffe and Mayo Paddon, one of her loves. Linda Morra of Books in Canada reported that "Crean offers some rather entertaining possibilities with respect to unresolved matters in Carr's life. Her perspective on a number of Carr's oddities and the events of her life are quite sensitively rendered." Carpenter agreed that Crean was successful: "The remarkable thing is how subtly Crean shifts from one voice to another and what an enjoyable read it all is … Crean effectively reconstructs Carr's voice."

"This is not a book about painting or pictures. It is a book about ideas," explained Mary Pratt in Herizons. Pratt praised Crean's observations, research, and documentation. "The ideas presented are not the facile comments presented by a zealot with an agenda. They are wonderfully organized to show us the worlds Emily Carr rejected and the spaces that inspired her." The reviewer added that a chapter in which Crean discusses the relationship between Carr and Georgia O'Keeffe "is so sensitive to the power of creative genius that it redefines the wellspring of female perception." She concluded that after reading Crean's book one comes away with a vision of Carr as "a truly great artist." Pratt added that the reader will also likely find Crean "both politically astute and sensitive to the most delicate nuances of creative angst."



Crean, Susan, In the Name of the Fathers: The Story behind Child Custody, Amanita (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1988.

Crean, Susan, Newsworthy: The Lives of Media Women, Stoddart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1985.


Books in Canada, April, 1989, pp. 31-32; August, 2001, Linda Morra, review of The Laughing One, pp. 7-8.

Canadian Forum, May, 1996, pp. 39-41.

Globe & Mail, May 4, 1985; October 24, 1987.

Herizons, winter, 2002, Mary Pratt, review of The Laughing One, p. 33.

Quill & Quire, June, 1985, p. 41.


Art Focus, (March 11, 2003), Ken Carpenter, review of The Laughing One.

HarperCollins Canada, (March 11, 2003), synopsis of The Laughing One.