Canadian Cultural Poesis
Essays on Canadian Culture
Publication Year: 2006
Canadian Cultural Poesis takes a comprehensive approach toward Canadian culture from a variety of provocative perspectives. Centred on the notion of culture as social identity, it offers original essays on cultural issues of urgent concern to Canadians: gender, technology, cultural ethnicity, and regionalism. From a broad range of disciplines, contributors consider these issues in the contexts of media, individual and national identity, language, and cultural dissent.
Providing an excellent introduction to current debates in Canadian culture, Canadian Cultural Poesis will appeal not only to readers looking for an overview of Canadian culture but also to those interested in cultural studies and interdisciplinarity, as well as scholars in film, art, literature, sociology, communication, and womens studies. This book offers new insights into how we make and are made by Canadian culture, each essay contributing to this poetics, inventing new ways to welcome cultural differences of all kinds fo the Canadian cultural community.
Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Series: Cultural Studies
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
The origin of this book springs largely from the recognition that until now there has been no textbook by Canadians, for Canadians, on Canadian culture. When the call for essays on Canadian culture went out, there were no rigidly preconceived ideas about what kind of thing we were looking for...
As with any book of this magnitude, the editors have many people to thank. We are immensely grateful for the financial support of the Research and Publications Committee of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa; and for the financial support of the President's Publication Fund and the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Regina...
Introduction: A Poetics of Canadian Culture
It is a commonplace in introductions to culture to quote Raymond Williams's observation that "culture" is one of the most complex words in the English language. The word means different things to different people. To an anthropologist or ethnographer, it can mean describing a cockfight in Bali in so detailed...
I: Media and Its (Dis) Contents
1. (Im)Possible Exchanges: The Arts of Counter-Surveillance
Social theorists consider surveillance to be a key institutional dimension of many contemporary, technologically advanced, capitalist societies. Resistance to surveillance has not, however, taken the form of a mass oppositional social movement. The study of counter-surveillance has tended to focus on specific campaigns...
2. Canadian Humour and National Culture: Move Over, Mr. Leacock
When I was a graduate student in the 1970s writing a dissertation on Stephen Leacock, an early-twentieth-century Canadian humorist, I was the butt of a repeated joke. When I told inquirers that my subject was Canadian humour, they inevitably burst into laughter, exclaiming that mine was going to be a short study, or that Canadian humour was surely an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms...
3. Collective Memory on the Airwaves: The Negotiation of Unity and Diversity in a Troubled Canadian Nationalism
This essay will look at two instances of national memory projects, or lieux de mémoire, taking place on television: the Heritage Minutes produced by the Historica Foundation, formerly known as the Charles R. Bronfman Foundation (crb), and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (cbc) documentary...
4. Framing the Local: Canadian Film Policy and the Problem of Place
Canadian films are rarities in Canadian theatres. In video stores across the land, Canadian films are categorized as "foreign." In contrast to the obscurity of domestically produced feature films, Canadian-made animation and documentary shorts, often produced by the National Film Board, are found in many Canadian classrooms...
5. Framing Culture, Talking Race: Race, Gender, and Violence in the News Media
Although the term "culture" has a long and involved history shaped by material events as well as disciplinary perspectives,3 it remains a highly fluid discursive category of common-sense thought containing within it a range of connotations that can be used strategically to define various groups and nations...
II: Performing and Disrupting Identities
6. Marketing Ambivalence: Molson Breweries Go Postcolonial
A central paradox of contemporary postcolonial theory, in Canada and elsewhere, is that while its origins lie in the various nationalist decolonization movements of the period following the Second World War, its current incarnation is marked by a disenchantment with nationalism and its attendant colonizing effects...
7. "The North" : Intersecting Worlds and World Views
What does "the North"mean to Canadians? Nunavut,Yukon, and the Northwest Territories make up more than one third of Canada's landmass; if the northern areas of the provinces are added, most of Canada is northern.1...
8. Dressed to Thrill: Costume, Body, and Dress in Canadian Performative Art
The history of performance art has become the focus of a considerable number of recent studies, after a long period of time when this practice was relatively marginalized in the literature on twentieth-century art. While these studies have made important contributions to our understanding of the development and role...
9. Figures of Otherness in Canadian Video
In the history of video art, there is great interest in body representation. New technology in art production has created conditions conducive to exploring the complex nature of subjectivity and identity, and their various possibilities within a varied framework.1 Discovering the self and confronting the world through the camera has been and still is a concern of young videomakers...
10. Queerly Canadian: "Perversion Chic"; Cinema and (Queer) Nationalism in English Canada
For the last twenty-five years or so, mainstream English-Canadian films (those that have enjoyed a degree of financial and critical success) have demonstrated a preference for narratives originating at the margins of society. Necrophiliacs, pedophiles, and homosexuals populate these films, their images being used to tell stories that are strikingly different from most of those told...
III: (Dis) Locating Language
11. Out of Psychoanalysis: A Ficto-Criticism Monologue
The art writing I casually referred to in 1983 as "ficto-criticism" was meant to swoop like an unsynchronized pair of pigeons, up, down, and sideways between each of these positions, the boundaries between which make no difference to beasts with poor eyesight, pea brains, and the power of flight...
12. Some Imaginary Geographies in Quebec Fiction
Since the Quiet Revolution, the francophone nationalist assertion of the 1960s, questions around space, place, and identity have assumed a particular importance in Quebec politics and culture. The shift, at this time, away from a cultural nationalism that sought to protect the language, religion, and way of life of French...
13. L.M. Montgomery on Television: The Romance and Industry of the Adaptation Process
Lucy Maud Montgomery's books have always enjoyed consistent popularity, never going out of print. Yet the latter part of the twentieth century saw an upsurge of interest in Montgomery's stories. Beginning in 1985, interest from academics and fans alike was rekindled following the publication of the first four volumes...
14. The Use of "Fisher" in a Nova Scotian Fishing Community: A Theory of Hegemony for a Complex Canadian Culture
The concept of hegemony is about power in relationships. Relationships can be as large as relations between nations, such as the United States and Canada, or as small as an interpersonal relationship between two people. Power is exercised when people or groups of people interact-one usually has greater power than the other, although power can be shared...
15. Thinking the Wonderful: After Rudolf Komorous, beside the Reveries
I studied music composition with Rudolf Komorous in Victoria, British Columbia, between 1983 and 1988.1 Komorous is a composer of experimental music who engendered in me an experimental sensibility. This essay, however, is not an appreciation of his singular accomplishments as a composer or as a teacher...
16. Maitrez Chez Nous: Public Art and Linguistic Identity in Quebec
I was recently reminded of a postcard sent to a friend in France about a decade ago. The image depicted Pierryves Anger's Le malheureux magnifique1 in the 1980s, in a vandalized state (fig.1) with graffiti. I then remembered that the large-scale...
IV: Cultural Dissidence
17. Black History and Culture in Canada: A Celebration of Essence or Presence
February is an unforgiving month for Canadian multiculturalism- a period when the very identity of the country and its citizenship are openly questioned, intellectually dissected, and reassembled. This is when the country's most vaunted boast of being a tolerant multicultural country is put to the test, challenged, and even subverted from within...
18. Decolonizing Interpretation at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site
The Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site is situated on an isolated, southeastern point of land on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. The reconstruction project at Fortress Louisbourg was part of the Canadian federal government's decision to expand historic parks during the fifties and sixties...
19. Culture and an Aboriginal Charter of Rights
The incongruence of Canadian European-based legal principles and Canadian Aboriginal culture has been the subject of much legal literature and jurisprudence. Most agree that strict application of common law to Aboriginal society is not only inappropriate...
20. Canadian Gothic: Multiculturalism, Indigeneity, and Gender in Prairie Cinema
For years these fragments of a story, presented as truth by one who "was there," functioned to naturalize the cultural and political history of white prairie settlers' encounter with First Nations people, turning it into a tale of my sweet grandmother threatened by violence of unimaginable and inhuman proportions...
21. Through a Canadian Lens: Discourses of Nationalism and Aboriginal Representation in Governmental Photographs
During one of his terms as prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald sat for a series of unattributed and undated portraits. Among them was a full view of the prime minister leaning on a table covered by books (fig. 1). The contrast between this image and photographic portraiture...