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Dates of existence
The Northrop Frye Centre was established in 1988 and inaugurated the following year. Initial funding was provided by Victoria University and a donation from Blair Lang. This was augmented by subsequent donations, including those from Dr. Frye, and by grants from agencies. The research centre was created to honour the contributions of Dr. Frye by instituting a formalized program that would perpetuate his work in the areas of literary criticism and theory, and the arts and religion.
Broader goals included encouraging research in the human sciences and the dissemination of humanist scholarship, and confirming and celebrating the role of Dr. Frye in Canadian scholarship. This mandate was accomplished through: the Visiting Fellow program for established scholars; the Northrop Frye Fellowship for post-doctoral candidates; the Northrop Frye Visiting Lectureship; the title Associate of the Northrop Frye Centre for junior scholars or non-academic visitors; the organization of relevant lectures and seminars given by fellows; and the publication of the multi-volume, The Collected Works of Northrop Frye, which was begun in 1992 under the general editorship of John Robson, who was replaced after his death in 1995 by Alvin Lee. Jean O'Grady served as Assistant then Associate Editor.
The Centre was originally overseen by an honorary advisory board and a smaller Management Board that included the Victoria University President as Director, and the Principals of Victoria and Emmanuel Colleges. In 1994, a restructuring resulted in the honorary board’s involvement becoming more limited, before it ultimately dissolved during the 1997-1998 academic year. Professor Brian Merrilees became the first non-President to serve as the Centre's Director in 1995. After his resignation in 2002, Merrilees was replaced by the Principal of Victoria College, David Cook, as Acting Director.