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Sean Kane was appointed to the University of Toronto English department, following his Ph.D. there in 1972. He left to join Trent University, becoming the chair of Cultural Studies when it was founded in 1978. These institutions are remembered in his Inward of Poetry (2011), a memoir of the golden age of English Studies at U of T, seen in the letters of his teachers, and in Virtual Freedom (2002), a mass market novel about Trent that was shortlisted for the Leacock Medal.
Kane’s interests fall in the sub-fields of oral metaphysics, ecophenomenology, biosemiotics, complexity theory and (possibly) speculative materialism. These are the intellectual settings of his continuing study of the nineteenth-century Haida thinker Skaay of Qquuna, whom he presents as Canada’s first philosopher. Preparation for this enquiry was made by Kane in his Wisdom of the Mythtellers (1994, 2/e 1998) which was adopted as a text in many places and established him as “an important successor to Northrop Frye” (Literary Review of Canada). Besides the influence of this teacher, Kane’s intellectual horizons were formed by the wondertales told by the storytelling artist Alice Kane, whose work he published as The Dreamer Awakes (1995), and by his early research at the Warburg Institute and the University of Toronto on the poet Edmund Spenser, published as Spenser’s Moral Allegory (1989).