Times change, lives change, and the terms we need to describe our literature or society or condition-what Raymond Williams calls "keywords"-change with them. Perhaps the most significant development in the quarter-century since Eli Mandel edited his anthology Contexts of Canadian Criticism has been the growing recognition that not only do different people need different terms, but the same terms have different meanings for different people and in different contexts. Nation, history, culture, art, identity-the positions we take discussing these and other issues can lead to conflict, but also hold the promise of a new sort of community.
Speaking of First Nations people and their literature, Beth Brant observes that "Our connections...are like the threads of a weaving...While the colour and beauty of each thread is unique and important, together they make a communal material of strength and durability." New Contexts of Canadian Criticism is designed to be read, to work, in much the same manner.