April 26, 2018
Myra Bloom teaches writing at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on confessional and identity politics in Canadian/Quebecois literature. Her publications include articles in English Studies in Canada, Québec Studies, and Studies in Canadian Literature. She is also the Reviews Editor at The Puritan.
Myra is the author of “The Trope of the Translator: (Re)Writing History in Heather O’Neill’s The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Claire Holden Rothman’s My October.”
This essay focuses on two novels that deal with major cultural clashes in Quebec: Heather O’Neill’s The Girl Who Was Saturday Night (2014), set on the eve of the 1995 referendum, and Claire Holden Rothman’s My October (2014), which considers the October Crisis of 1970. Rather than shore up the divisions traditionally associated with these events, I argue that both novels encapsulate the anglophone desire for rapprochement within the context of Quebec’s evolving social and political dynamics.
They do so, first, by criticizing sovereigntist ideology, which both writers depict as an outmoded and divisive product of the past. They then attempt to represent and bridge the gap between cultures through translation, which is a structuring element of Saturday Night and a driving theme in My October. While both novels highlight the inherent dangers of misunderstanding or uneven power dynamics, I contend that their ultimate endorsement of translation reveals a distinctly anglophone optimism regarding the possibility of reconciliation.
Canadian Literature issue 233, Literary History, is available to order through our online store.
April 19, 2018
Heather Olaveson is a PhD candidate at Wilfrid Laurier University in English and Film Studies as well as a classically trained pianist with a Master’s in Music Composition from the University of Victoria. Her research interests include Canadian literature, postmodernism, historiography, gender studies, and theories of identity formation and subjectivity.
Heather is the author of “’Coming Home” Through Music: Cree and Classical Music in Tomson Highway’s Kiss of the Fur Queen.”
This article examines the purpose of music in Tomson Highway’s Kiss of the Fur Queen by exploring its connection to the growth and development of the protagonist and musician Jeremiah Okimasis. In considering the growth of Jeremiah’s character, I explore ways in which the novel’s Bildungsroman structure is both exemplified and problematized by Highway’s use of Cree and Classical musical aesthetics, and investigate the development of Native youth identity as well as a Cree cultural home. What is ultimately revealed is a trickster poetics at work in the text, as demonstrated by music’s ability to lure characters into and out of cultural spaces of belonging while also functioning as an essential method of Cree cultural survival.
April 12, 2018
Evangeline Holtz is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto in the Department of English and the Women’s and Gender Studies Institute. Her research is funded by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship in Canadian Studies and focuses on the “Neo Pacific Northwest” through Indigenous and Asian North American literatures, diasporas, and transnational feminisms.
Evangeline is the author of “Kicking Up the Dust: Generic Spectrality in Hiromi Goto’s Chorus of Mushrooms—An “Asian Canadian Prairie” Novel?”
While Hiromi Goto’s Chorus of Mushrooms has received widespread acclaim both in and outside the academy for the past two decades, the text has yet to be conceived of as a work of Canadian prairie literature in the regionalist tradition. My article situates Chorus of Mushrooms in reference to its publication date, just six years after the passing of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, suggesting that such a coincidence caused the novel to be labelled as a work of ethnic, namely “Asian Canadian” literature, as opposed to that of Canadian prairie literature. I argue that Chorus of Mushrooms problematizes both of these labels by reimagining traditional prairie conventions through immigrant, feminist, and queer conceptualizations. I develop a method of reading Goto’s novel through the intersections of “rural,” “regional,” “Asian Canadian,” and “prairie” literature, suggesting that Chorus of Mushrooms refutes such “generic violence.”
April 10, 2018
Petra Fachinger has a PhD in Comparative Literature.
She teaches in the English Department at Queen’s University and is affiliated with the graduate program in Cultural Studies. Her research interests include Canadian literature, Indigenous literatures, and ecocriticism. Her publications focus on cross-cultural relations and trans- cultural trauma, social and environmental justice, diaspora, and urban reality.
Petra is the author of “Writing the Canadian Pacific Northwest Ecocritically: The Dynamics of Local and Global in Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being.”
While Ruth Ozeki’s earlier novels My Year of Meats (1998) and All Over Creation (2003) focus on environmental degradation and unethical practices in the food industry, A Tale for the Time Being (2013) embraces several broader political, cultural, and societal issues and connects them with ecological concerns. The nature of reality, the often blurred boundaries between fact and fiction, the relationship between time and space, the connection between colonization and environmental injustice, and the effects of “slow violence” (Nixon) are among the novel’s major topics. In its search for narrative solutions to environmental problems, it questions the assumptions of 20th-century proto-environmentalist BC texts in an attempt to draw attention to the complexities of the region’s local and global ecological and political interdependencies. By reworking relevant themes of the earlier texts and by affiliating herself with some contemporary ecocritical BC writers, Ozeki also explores her position as an American Canadian writer. The novel thus also raises questions about the status of Canadian ecocriticism.
Canadian Literature issue 232, Meanwhile, Home, is available to order through our online store.
April 5, 2018
Kailin Wright is an Assistant Professor of English at St. Francis Xavier University. Her research focuses on Canadian drama. She has published articles in Canadian Literature, Studies in Canadian Literature, and Theatre Research in Canada. Her critical edition, entitled The God of Gods: A Canadian Play: A Critical Edition (2016), examines modernism, primitivism, and theosophy. Wright was a Co-Applicant of the SSHRC-funded Editing Modernism in Canada project.
Kailin is the author of “Failed Futurity: Performing Abortion in Merrill Denison’s Marsh Hay.”
Merrill Denison’s Marsh Hay culminates with the “piercing scream” of a pregnant woman as she intentionally miscarries. Originally published in 1923, the play did not see the stage until over fifty years later. This unique delay in production was likely due to the play’s sensitive themes, namely, pregnancy out of wedlock and abortion. Most critics focus on Marsh Hay’s dramatization of rural poverty and overlook the abortion. Ultimately, the play’s depiction of poverty and lost pregnancy are mutually constitutive because abortion functions as a symbol and symptom of the family’s failed futurity. Denison uses lost pregnancy to foretell the demise not only of an archetypal rural family but also of rural Canada if audiences do not accept pregnancy out of wedlock. I argue that Denison’s progressive conception of illegitimate pregnancy is constrained by the play’s use of abortion as a punishment for the community’s refusal to accept pregnancy out of wedlock.
March 29, 2018
Dale Tracy is a determinate Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the Royal Military College of Canada. She has research interests in humour, autobiography, poetry, and performance. Her articles are forthcoming or available in Popular Music, English Studies in Canada, MaComère, Mosaic, and Modern Drama. She is the author of With the Witnesses: Compassion, Poetry, and Claimed Experience (McGill-Queen’s 2017).
Dale is the author of “Witness, Signature, and the Handmade in Rahat Kurd’s Cosmophilia.”
I argue that Rahat Kurd’s witness poetry examines the poet’s mark and proposes that this mark differs from the more easily recognizable signature. The poet’s mark is essential to witness as that aspect of the poem (a different aspect in every poem) that demonstrates the relationships among poem, poet, reader, and tradition. In Cosmophilia, Kurd writes about the traditions she inherits through her familial connections to Kashmir and Pakistan and through her Muslim identity. Her poems witness political conflict and violence alongside the beauty of cultural creations, including Persian script and Kashmiri embroidery. Cosmophilia means “love of ornament,” and Kurd’s collection suggests such loving looking is implicated in witness. I pursue this argument with Carolyn Forché’s defining comments on the genre of poetry of witness, Paul E. Losensky’s study of the ghazal, and Jonathan Culler’s and Peggy Kamuf’s engagements with the concept of the signature.
March 22, 2018
Lucia Lorenzi is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. Her research focuses on representations of sexual violence in contemporary Canadian literature, drama, and other media, with specific interests in the strategic use of silence as well as in public responses to perpetrator narratives. Her work has previously been published in West Coast Line and in TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies.
Along with Laura Moss and Brendan McCormack, Lucia is the author of the interview “On Refugees, Running, and the Politics of Writing: An Interview with Lawrence Hill.”
A former journalist and political speechwriter, Lawrence Hill has published ten books of fiction and non-fiction. The impact of his work as a novelist, essayist, memoirist, activist, and educator speaks to the power of writing to effect social change. “Artists have voices,” he affirms in the interview below, “and their voices can help influence—profoundly, sometimes—the way we see ourselves, and the way we see our country and the world and our roles in them.” Hill’s voice has contributed widely to pressing conversations about race, Black history, and social justice in North America for over two decades. Laura Moss, Brendan McCormack, and Lucia Lorenzi joined Hill to discuss his most recent novel, The Illegal (2015), which explores the contemporary refugee crisis in a global context, as part of a larger conversation about the conjunction of art and politics in Hill’s work as an author, public intellectual, and prominent voice within the Canadian literary community.
March 15, 2018
Judith Leggatt is an Associate Professor of English at Lakehead University. Dr. Leggatt’s primary area of teaching is First Nations Literature, but she has taught a wide variety of courses at Lakehead, ranging from 1st year to the graduate level. She has taught Caribbean Literature, Canadian Literature, Speculative Fiction, and Women’s Literature. She was hired, in part, to develop post-colonial studies at Lakehead, and since she has been here, she has created several new courses, including Postcolonial Literature, Caribbean Literature, First Nations Women’s Writing, and Speculative Fiction. She teaches courses cross-listed with Indigenous Learning and with Women’s Studies, and is committed to accommodating the different learning styles and background experiences of diverse student groups.
Judith is the author of the article “Material Connections in Skawennati’s Digital Worlds.”
This paper will examine the possibilities of Indigenous internet community by placing the work of Mohawk media artist Skawennati Tricia Fragnito in the framework of the cyberpunk genre, which imagines the ways in which human people interact
with machine and digital spaces, and how those connections change both individuals and societies. By comparing Imagining Indians in the 25th Century and TimeTravellerTM with Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, which Skawennati references in both texts, I will show how Skawennati Indigenizes understandings of the supposedly “new world” of cyberspace. Overcoming the biases embedded in technology can create maps and pathways through which Indigenous artists and activists can change human social systems, creating new avenues for community engagement.
Canadian Literature issue 230-31, Indigenous Literature and the Arts of Community, is available to order through our online store.
March 8, 2018
Pauline Wakeham is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Western Ontario, situated on the land of the Attawandaron, Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Leni-Lunaape peoples. She is a settler scholar of Indigenous literary and cultural studies. Her recent work has considered discourses of reconciliation, reparations for settler colonial injustices, as well as the incommensurabilities of settler-state reconciliation with Indigenous theories and practices of resurgence.
Pauline is the author of the article “Beyond Comparison: Reading Relations between Indigenous Nations.”
While the tensions and potential affinities between Native literary nationalism and “Trans-Indigenous” comparative studies of Indigenous literatures have been debated at some length, much less has been said about how, in literary critical practice, scholars might formulate reading methods in which “tribal specificity and pan-tribalism might corroborate each other” (Womack 226). How might scholars read for both difference and connection between and across Indigenous nations, and under what conditions is it appropriate and generative to do so? What kinds of methods might enable such readings while still affirming Native literary nationalism’s call for centering Indigenous knowledges and affirming Indigenous nations’ self-determination? This essay takes up these questions first by engaging the work of Chickasaw scholar Chadwick Allen and Māori scholar Alice Te Punga Somerville, two critics who have formulated methods of literary analysis for reading “Indigenous-Indigenous encounter[s]” (Somerville “The Lingering” 23). Learning from the possibilities and potential limits of Allen’s and Somerville’s methods, the paper then moves towards elucidating a mode of analysis that de-centres comparative and transnational approaches inherited from Euro-Western academia and, in turn, re-centres Indigenous terms of self-recognition and relationality. In doing so, the essay seeks to translate Native literary nationalism’s call for prioritizing Indigenous knowledges and lifeways into reading methods that attend carefully to how Indigenous authors articulate nation-to-nation engagements.
February 27, 2018
Brandon Kerfoot is a settler scholar from Edmonton, in Treaty 6 territory. He is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, where he analyzes when and how persons and politicized groups claim kinship with animals in Arctic literature and politics.
Brandon is the author of the article “Beyond Symbolism: Polar Bear Characters and Inuit Kinship in Markoosie’s Harpoon of the Hunter.”
Markoosie’s Harpoon of the Hunter is the coming-of-age story turned survival narrative of Kamik, a young Inuk whose community is attacked by a rabid polar bear. This paper engages with the existing scholarship on the text to show that it has favoured a symbolic interpretation of polar bears and other characters. Though the polar bear surfaces as a potentially symbolic element, I argue that the sequence of multiple bear attacks becomes increasingly literal, stripping away the symbolic resonance and revealing a polar bear character. By layering over the polar bear symbol with a relationship between Kamik and polar bears, Harpoon of the Hunter invites readers to shift from symbolic to literal relationship models. I apply this model to a reading of the final scene, Kamik’s suicide, to argue that the text undermines excessive symbolism and demands that material relationships be acknowledged and maintained.