Canada & Its Americas

Canada & Its Americas: Transnational Navigations

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 319
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  • Book Info
    Canada & Its Americas
    Book Description:

    The chapters in this volume, a groundbreaking work in the burgeoning field of hemispheric American studies, expand the horizons of Canadian and Québécois literatures, suggest alternative approaches to models centred on the United States, and analyze the risks and benefits of hemispheric approaches to Canada and Quebec. Revealing the connections among a broad range of Canadian, Québécois, American, Caribbean, Latin American, and diasporic literatures, the contributors critique the neglect of Canadian works in Hemispheric studies and show how such writing can be successfully integrated into an emerging area of literary inquiry. An important development in understanding the diversity of literatures throughout the western hemisphere, Canada and Its Americas reveals exciting new ways for thinking about transnationalism, regionalism, border cultures, and the literatures they produce.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8464-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Canada and Its Americas
    (pp. 3-28)

    “All the buses to Aracataca were brightly colored,” Michael Ondaatje recalls in a 1978 essay on Gabriel García Márquez, which he addresses to fellow Canadian writer Sheila Watson. Ondaatje writes that the vehicles en route to Márquez’s hometown “would take a side road down into the river and soak in it like animals” and notes that he has “terrific slides of the pigs and of the men delivering ice at Aracataca.” Yet he finds himself wondering, “What am I doing in this South American town … photographing pigs photographing ice” (1978, 19). This is a good question, particularly for those...

    • 1 Worlding the (Postcolonial) Nation: Canada’s Americas
      (pp. 31-47)

      Reading Edward Said’sHumanism and Democratic Criticism(2004) is a humbling experience. The essays collected in Said’s volume not only constitute a requiem for the profession of the humanities in North America but also comprise an ardent defence of the ideal of radical humanist practice that is very difficult to live up to. Embedded within his discussion is an analysis of the links between a highhanded humanist discourse and notions of national identity and homogeneity. This is evident in Said’s terminology when he speaks of “nationalistic or Eurocentric humanism” as one and the same (2004, 47) and defines nationalism in...

    • 2 Hemispheric Studies or Scholarly NAFTA? The Case for Canadian Literary Studies
      (pp. 48-61)

      Because of the influence of globalization, increasing interrogation of the nation as a suitable framework for cultural identification, and growing interest in comparative literature, scholars are giving more and more serious consideration to comparative perspectives on writing in the Western Hemisphere. However, the prospect of hemispheric studies is likely to be viewed by many Canadian literary critics and scholars (among others, undoubtedly) with a good deal of skepticism. To give some sense of why that might be the case, I’d like to draw an example from one of the most influential cultural figures in the Americas – namely, Bugs Bunny. In...

    • 3 Counter-Worlding A/américanité
      (pp. 62-84)

      According to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1985), “worlding” involves the violent impact of imperialism on colonized spaces and peoples as well as the forms that inscribe imperial discourse on colonized space.¹ Among important examples of “worlding” by inscription, she includes imperial cartography and any “texting, textualizing, a making into art, a making into an object to be understood,” as she said to Elizabeth Grosz, that is the result of an “imperialist project[‘s] … assum[ption] that the earth that it territorialized was in fact uninscribed” (Spivak 1990, 1).² One of her most subtle yet most profound observations is that the simple presence...

    • 4 Representations of the Native and the New World Subject
      (pp. 85-101)

      Throughout the Americas, the Native peoples were often described as the Other of a newly emerging society of settlers and immigrants – an Other that had to be “civilized,” displaced, eliminated, or persuaded to fade away quietly before the advances of colonization. At the same time, the “Indian” was often represented as the basis of New World specificity in a symbolic identification with imaginary non-European ancestors. The mestizos, or “half-breeds,” by comparison, were frequently regarded as degenerate “human hybrids” or unfortunate victims of colonization, destined to disappear or to perpetuate their misery in poverty and alcoholism on the margins of society....

    • 5 Indigeneity and Diasporic Belonging: Three New World Readings of Chief Sitting Bull
      (pp. 102-118)

      The literatures of the Americas, particularly in their colonial phase, are fundamentally preoccupied with the problem of belonging, or what Lois Parkinson Zamora has called “the anxiety of origins” (1997, 5). They are characterized (to a greater or lesser degree) by a keen awareness of their lack of both compelling myths of origin and strong national literary traditions. In New World writing, anxieties about belonging and origins often manifest themselves in depictions of the figure of the Indian, whether negative or positive. For although indigenous peoples of the Americas are seen as obstacles to European settlement of the land, they...

    • 6 Outer America: Racial Hybridity and Canada’s Peripheral Place in Inter-American Discourse
      (pp. 119-133)

      Canada is one of the largest countries in the Americas, indeed the world. Or, as Richard Rodriguez jokes, at least for the people of the United States, it is “the largest country in the world that doesn’t exist” (2002, 161). In any case, for such a territorial colossus, Canada is barely acknowledged in inter-American discourse. There are two main explanations for this peculiar state of affairs. First, Canada remains extremely ambivalent about its spatial location. Second, hemispheric studies have become increasingly oriented along a United States-Hispanic America axis. Consequently, Canada is seldom considered in continental dialogues, whether they originate in...

    • 7 Eyeing the North Star? Figuring Canada in Postslavery Fiction and Drama
      (pp. 135-147)

      Lois Parkinson Zamora has argued that recent fiction of the Americas is characterized by a search for a “usable past” and a clear rejection of the “New World myth that Americans are free of the burdens of history because they are free to create their own” (1997, 4). For contemporary African Canadian writers, the particular burdens that come with the need to create a usable past have to do, at least in part, with a peculiar variant of that New World myth, and that is the myth that Canada is free of the history of slavery by virtue of being...

    • 8 “May I See Some Identification?” Race, Borders, and Identities in Any Known Blood
      (pp. 148-170)

      Our most postidentitarian moments and movements notwithstanding, identities are hardly a matter of the past. New constructions of identities and postidentities are continually wrought by historical subjects, the agents who invent or choose them and who modify, resist, or discard them. “Unused” identities continue to exist as possible scripts, as virtual and often virulent realities until human actors put them into play and through identification use them in practice and performance. One of the important ways of crossing borders of identity is travel, a movement I explore here with respect to “crossing cultures,” “frontiers of North American identity,”¹ and identities...

    • 9 Translating in the Multilingual City: Montreal as a City of the Americas
      (pp. 171-185)

      As the power of national epics wanes, city-dwellers tend to see themselves above all as citizens of the metropolis. The competing and overlapping voices of the city often define a reality at odds with the identity claims of the nation. In particular, North American cities offer an auditory landscape of increasing diversity. In taxis and on street corners conversations are held, sometimes shouted (when they’re on cellphones), in all the languages of the world. Languages once confined to the home or to community venues like church basements are suddenly more apparent in the public sphere. The electronic map produced by...

    • 10 “Lucky to be so bilingual”: Québécois and Chicano/a Literatures in a Comparative Context
      (pp. 186-202)

      Inter-American literary studies has long focused primarily on the relations between US and Spanish American literatures. Recently, the Caribbean and English-speaking Canada have begun to receive more substantial attention from scholars in the United States, a positive development indeed – but Quebec still remains somewhat on the sidelines, considered more often in the context of the francophone world than in hemispheric American studies. With this chapter, I propose a more thorough integration of Québécois literature into the field of inter-American studies, specifically through comparison with US Chicano/a writing. The striking parallels between Québécois and Chicano/a literatures have, as yet, received scant...

    • 11 Louis Dantin’s American Life
      (pp. 203-218)

      In this chapter,¹ I attempt to situate Louis Dantin’s work and life trajectory in a North American context.² The idea was inspired by an invitation sent out a while ago to comparative-literature critics and scholars to situate certain issues and problematics within the framework of what Winfried Siemerling has dubbed “the new North American studies.” One of the advantages of this reconfiguration, according to Siemerling, is that it allows us to escape the synecdoche whereby “America” stands for the United States. “North America is a relational designation that marks it as [the] Northernpartof a larger entity, which it...

    • 12 Transculturation and National Identity in the Novel Rojo, amarillo y verde by Alejandro Saravia
      (pp. 219-230)

      Canada and Latin America have a long and complex literary relationship that includes both parallel historic, artistic, and cultural currents and a remarkable number of authors who have written about their mutual regions. Much of the initial interest in English Canadian and Quebec literature in Latin America was due to the publication of anthologies, translations, fiction, and poetry by Canadians living in the area, as well as by Latino-Canadian writers who settled in Canada. The earliest known anthology of Canadian writing published in Brazil, for instance, was a selection of Quebec poetry edited by Jean Désy, a Canadian diplomat, and...

    • 13 Looking beyond the Elephant: The Mexican Connection in Francine Noël’s La Conjuration des bâtards
      (pp. 231-246)

      The fiction of Montreal writer Francine Noël is generally regarded as being unapologetically nationalistic. In all of her works, Quebec’s status as a nation is taken for granted, its official political independence but a detail that remains to be worked out.Maryse, the first novel of a tetralogy that includes herLa Conjuration des bâtards, intertwines the coming of age of a young, independent, liberated woman studying French and Québécois literature with the coming of age of Quebec as a nation. However, Noël’s representation of the Québécois is not that of a homogeneous people speaking one language, as is the...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 247-250)
  10. References
    (pp. 251-282)
  11. Index
    (pp. 283-304)