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White Civility

White Civility: The Literary Project of English Canada

  • Book Info
    White Civility
    Book Description:

    InWhite CivilityDaniel Coleman breaks the long silence in Canadian literary and cultural studies around Canadian whiteness and examines its roots as a literary project of early colonials and nation-builders.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8335-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. 1 White Civility: The Literary Project of English Canada
    (pp. 3-45)

    Himani Bannerji's short story ‘The Other Family’ tells of a South Asian mother in Toronto who asks her little girl over the supper table what she did in school that day. The mother experiences a shock when her daughter gets out the picture she drew in response to her teacher's request that the students draw a picture of their families. ‘“Listen,” said the mother, “this is not your family. I, you and your father are darkskinned, dark-haired. I don't have a blond wig hidden in my closet, my eyes are black, not blue, and your father's beard is black, not...

  6. 2 The Loyalist Brother: Fratricide and Civility in English Canada’s Story of Origins
    (pp. 46-80)

    Let me open my discussion of fraternity in Loyalist literature with a primal scene taken fromThe Canadian Brothers(1840), which, together with the earlierWacousta(1832), constitutes Major John Richardson's fictional epic of Canada's formation.¹ This scene from the novel's conclusion occurs during the War of 1812 at its most mythologized battle at Queenston Heights. General Isaac Brock, Canada's Loyalist martyr, lies mortally wounded, and Henry Grantham, his retainer and one of the two Canadian brothers of the novel's title, takes aim at the Kentucky rifleman he thinks shot his venerated commander. No sooner does his bullet strike the...

  7. 3 The Enterprising Scottish Orphan: Inventing the Properties of English Canadian Character
    (pp. 81-127)

    When Sandor Hunyadi, the twelve-year-old protagonist of John Marlyn's novelUnder the Ribs of Death(1957), asks his Hungarian-born father if they can change ‘Hunyadi’ to an English-sounding last name, he demonstrates a clear understanding of the link between Englishness and social status in Canada. ‘Pa, the only people who count are the English,’ the boy explains. ‘Their fathers got all the est jobs. They're the only ones nobody ever calls foreigners. Nobody ever makes fun of their names or calls them "bologny-eaters" [sic], or laughs at the way they dress or talk ... ‘cause when you're English it's the...

  8. 4 The Muscular Christian in Fictions of the Canadian West
    (pp. 128-167)

    Ever since T.C. Sanders coined the term ‘muscular Christianity’ in Britain in 1857, it has functioned as an expression of dismissal. Writing in theSaturday Reviewabout Charles Kingsley's recently publishedTwo Years Ago, Sanders quips that the book presents Kingsley's ‘love of a muscular Christianity’ personified by a ‘man who fears God and can walk a thousand miles in a thousand hours, who ... breathes God's free air on God's rich earth, and at the same time can hit a woodcock, doctor a horse, and twist a[n iron] poker around his fingers’ (qtd. in Donald Hall 7). The hyperbolic...

  9. 5 The Maturing Colonial Son: Manning the Borders of White Civility
    (pp. 168-210)

    In the opening lines ofStrangers within Our Gates; or Coming Canadians(1909), J.S. Woodsworth wrote:

    Within the past decade Canada has risen from the status of a colony to that of a nation. A national consciousness has developed - that is, a nation has been born. A few years ago Canadian-born children described themselves as English, Irish, Scotch or French, according as their parents or ancestors had come from England, Ireland, Scotland or France. To-day our children boast themselves Canadians, and the latest arrivals from Austria or Russia help to swell the chorus, ‘The Maple Leaf Forever.’ There has...

  10. 6 Wry Civility
    (pp. 211-240)

    My argument throughout this book has been that English Canadian whiteness has been modelled upon a specific form of British civility, a form of Britishness that is a uniquely settler-colonial project, and that this British-inflected White civility was formulated and popularized by means of (at least) four ubiquitous allegorical figures in late-nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century Canadian writing: the Loyalist brother, the Scottish orphan, the muscular Christian, and the maturing colonial son. There is a danger in this kind of genealogical argument that my efforts to demonstrate the predominance of these norms and assumptions can make them appear to be universal, as if...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 241-272)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 273-296)
  13. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 297-298)
  14. Index
    (pp. 299-320)