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National Performance

National Performance: Representing Quebec from Expo 67 to Celine Dion

Erin Hurley
Series: Cultural Spaces
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 264
  • Book Info
    National Performance
    Book Description:

    Winner of the Northeast Modern Language Association's Book Prize,National Performanceis sophisticated yet accessible, seeking to enlarge the parameters of what counts as 'Quebecois' performance, while providing a thorough introduction to changing discourses of nation-ness in Quebec.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8634-2
    Subjects: Performing Arts, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. chapter one Introduction
    (pp. 3-11)

    From 27 April to 29 October 1967, Quebec hosted fifty million visitors at the 1967 World’s Fair and Exposition, catapulting the region onto the world stage. Key to Quebec’s dramatic entrance was the Quebec Pavilion. By day, its mirrored façade reflected the Pavilions of Ontario and France that flanked it (Fig. 1.1). Its reflections evoked the Confederation of the Canadas – Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec) – with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into the Dominion of Canada in 1867 – the centenary of which Expo 67 celebrated. They also flagged Quebec’s aspirations to independent nation-state status by positioning Quebec as...

  5. chapter two Marginals, Metaphors, and Mimesis
    (pp. 12-30)

    2007 was a big year for Québécois cultural production. Over ten million people worldwide bought a ticket to a Cirque du Soleil show. Céline Dion closed her sold-out, five-year run at Las Vegas’s Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino theatre, the Colosseum. (And none too soon, given the devastating effects of the global financial crisis of the late 2000s on entertainment tourism generally and Las Vegas in particular.) Director Denis Marleau’sFantasmagories technologiqueswere the theatrical highlight of the international theatre and dance festival, the Festival transamériques (formerly the Festival de théâtre des amériques). Choreographer Édouard Locke’s company, La La La...

  6. chapter three National Construction: Quebec’s Modernity at Expo 67
    (pp. 31-59)

    Thus begins Gilles Carle’s documentary film on the 1967 World’s Fair and Exposition, ‘Terre des hommes/Man and His World,’ held in Montreal from 28 April to 27 October 1967. Carle’s invocation of the tropes of discovery and tourism is not particularly remarkable in the context of world’s fairs and their publicity. Indeed, fair-goers have often been exhorted to discover the wonders of the world and venture into the land of tomorrow. Nor are these tropes uncommon in myths of national origin, particularly in the Americas whereterra incognita– unknown lands – were ‘discovered’ by European ‘explorers’ and then claimed as possessions...

  7. chapter four National Reflection: Michel Tremblay’s Les belles-sœurs and le nouveau théâtre québécois
    (pp. 60-88)

    The period from about 1960 to 1976 in Quebec seems to be typified by rebirth at the hands of Man, and the story of Michel Tremblay’s first produced play,Les belles-sœurs(The Sisters-in-Law), is easily inscribed in this narrative. The critic who wrote that withLes belles-sœursTremblay (b. 1942) effectively raised Quebec theatre from the dead was not alone in his ascription of almost supernatural powers to the play, even if this was the most hyperbolic statement to that effect (Basile 1972, 135). Tremblay’s two most important early critics, playwright Jean-Claude Germain andLe Devoir’stheatre critic Michel Bélair,...

  8. chapter five National Simulation: Marco Micone’s culture immigrée
    (pp. 89-113)

    InExiguity: Reflections on the Margins of Literature, François Paré observes, ‘National literatures institute at their margins the fantasy places of their own muting, of their own extinction as a language, their own spaces of exiguity’ (1997, 26). Exiguity, here, is an aperture onto difference, a space in which national literatures are no longer themselves and their voices no longer speak with authority. Paré identifies French-speaking cultures outside of Quebec, like Franco-Manitoba or Franco-Alberta, as the signal space of exiguity to the nascent Quebec literary institution of the 1960s and 1970s. And indeed, Paré cites a Québécois literary trope of...

  9. chapter six National Metonymy: Arresting Images in the Devised Works of Carbone 14
    (pp. 114-141)

    If the 1980s in Quebec were the years of ‘transculture’ and the discovery that Quebec’s self-createdTerre des hommeswas also aterre des autres(land of others), the decade was also experienced as cultural production’s relatively apolitical interlude. Following on the political and cultural effervescence of the 1960s and 1970s marked by the establishment of a Quebec literary institution and specifically Québécois genres (la chanson québécoise, le nouveau théâtre québécois), and attempts to build and sustainquébécitévia the performing arts, the 1980s were distinguished by a noticeable retreat fromquébécité’s dominant mode – spoken and written language – to be...

  10. chapter seven National Affection: Céline Dion
    (pp. 142-169)

    I argued earlier that Expo 67 exemplifies the ‘construction’ pole of performance’s representational labours; itsproductivenational labours are credited with building a Québécois national imaginary and styling it as male, modern, urban, and sexy. At the other end of the production-reproduction spectrum, pop diva Céline Dion (b. 1968) emblematizes the arts’reproductivelabours. As such, Expo 67 and Céline Dion comprise the limit-cases of my analysis of the performing arts’ mimetic labours vis-à-vis the nation. Dion is generally deemed to naively yet opportunistically mirror trends in national, musical, commercial, and biological spheres. Neither a composer nor an instrumental musician,...

  11. chapter eight Conclusion: Feminist (Re)production
    (pp. 170-188)

    We have seen across the preceding chapters a history of Quebec and of the Québécois performing arts largely conceived as being of, by, and for men. Expo 67 and the Quiet Revolutionaries are ‘fathers’ of a modern, urban, potentially sovereign Quebec; the theatre called ‘québécois’ was also birthed by a man; and we could argue the same for Québécois music (Félix Leclerc and Gilles Vigneault’schansons québécoisesof the 1960s and 1970s), for poetry (Gaston Miron’spoésie du paysdating from the 1950s), and for the novel (Jacques Renaud’sLe Cassé, 1964). Thus, a kind of mythology of male national...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 189-208)
  13. References
    (pp. 209-236)
  14. Index
    (pp. 237-244)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-246)