Archaeologies of an Uncertain Future

Archaeologies of an Uncertain Future: Recent Generations of Canadian Women Writing

KAREN S. McPHERSON
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 330
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt817s8
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  • Book Info
    Archaeologies of an Uncertain Future
    Book Description:

    In Archaeologies of an Uncertain Future, McPherson explores the memory work, alternative historiographies, and feminist aesthetics by which women writers revisit the past and reimagine the future. Grounded within critical discourses across many discplines, McPherson's analysis engages contemporary discussions about autobiographical genres, post-modern historiographies, memoirs, and literary genealogies.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6022-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. Introduction Surviving the Century
    (pp. 3-31)

    In the 1980s and 1990s, people began living in self-conscious anticipation of the impending turn of the century. Taking the measure of the twentieth century within the parentheses of twofins de siècle, they started thinking in terms of beginnings and endings. What did it mean to reach the end of a hundred-year span? The question of “the meaning of the century” was perhaps particularly salient because one hundred years is generally considered the outer limit of an individual human lifespan. InCentury’s End: An Orientation Manual Toward the Year 2000, Hillel Schwartz describes the end of a century as...

  7. 1 The Language of Grief
    (pp. 32-57)

    These lines occur in an epigraph to the section of Madeleine Gagnon’s novelLe Vent majeurthat bears the title “C’est quoi, la mort?” [What is death?]. As Gagnon’s protagonist so succinctly puts it elsewhere in the novel, the enigma of death is such that “aucun mot, jamais et en aucune langue, ne donnera la mesure de la mort et du deuil” [no word, ever, in any language, will give the measure of death and bereavement] (VM 182–3). Death is “irreconcilable with life” and there is no language that can touch it.

    The impossibility of language – and particularly of...

  8. 2 Memory Works
    (pp. 58-115)

    In the previous chapter we referred to memory as an avatar of mourning, suggesting that as grief abates over time memories move in to re-establish and maintain connections with what has been lost. Writings engaged in the work of grieving are necessarily engaged in the work of memory, while, in corresponding fashion, underlying most memory works one can discern the traces of a story of loss.

    This chapter examines three fictions of loss – Louise Dupré’sLa Memoria, Joy Kogawa’sObasan, and Anne Michaels’sFugitive Pieces– in which memory is both the subject of the story and the vehicle of its...

  9. 3 Precarious Thresholds
    (pp. 116-166)

    As early as 1980 in “Les Agénésies du vieux monde” Louky Bersianik wrote:

    Si l’on peut imaginer une mémoire future au moyen de la science fiction, peut-on imaginer une mémoire du futur, c’est-à-dire avoir en mémoire un avenir qui ne serait pas entièrement sécrété par le passé, une partie de celui-ci n’étant pas encore advenu; c’est-à-dire mémoriser le futur et s’en servir pour penser et agir dans le présent?

    [If one can imagine a future memory through science fiction, can one imagine a memory of the future, that is to say, can one have in memory a future that would...

  10. 4 Thinking the Future
    (pp. 167-204)

    Many have suggested it: death is the one thing that we cannot know and that we cannotbutknow. It cannot be comprehended, described, or figured; it cannot be written, and yet all writing contains it.² It is, as Blanchot put it, “impossible necessary death.”³ Blanchot elaborates:

    To write is no longer to situate death in the future – the death which is always already past; to write is to accept that one has to die without making death present and without making oneself present to it. To write is to know that death has taken place even though it has...

  11. 5 Today and Tomorrow
    (pp. 205-224)

    Throughout a writing career that has spanned almost forty years, Nicole Brossard has always been “une femme du présent” [a woman of the present]² with a “forward-looking gaze.”³ She has been witness and visionary, a voice for her time, a trailblazer and a beacon. While she has written unstintingly of the violence, fear, and destructiveness of a civilization at risk, she has just as insistently imagined horizons and dawns. At every stage, but especially sinceLe Désert mauve, Brossard has addressed the possibility of effecting some positive change, of finding a way to “changer le cours de l’histoire.” It is...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 225-274)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 275-288)
  14. Index
    (pp. 289-303)