Home Ground and Foreign Territory
Essays on Early Canadian Literature
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of Ottawa Press
Series: Reappraisals: Canadian Writers
Title Page, Copyright
Table of Contents
Introduction: Home Ground and Foreign Territory
“Home ground, foreign territory” (11) is the evocative phrase used by the unnamed narrator of Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing (1972) as she and her friends cross the Ontario border into northern Quebec to return to the narrator’s childhood home. In the novel, the phrase signals not only Quebec in its linguistic and cultural otherness but also wilderness, the past, memory, and the unconscious...
Reflections on the Situation and Study of Early Canadian Literature in the Long Confederation Period
D. M. R. Bentley
In 1886, Matthew Arnold famously responded with condescending scorn to a recently published Primer of American Literature: “Are we to have a Primer of Canadian Literature, and a Primer of Australian? . . . [T]hese things are not only absurd; they are also retarding” (11: 165). Two years earlier, the Canadian historian, journalist and champion of cosmopolitanism Joseph Edmund Collins had reacted similarly to the...
Periodicals First: The Beginnings of Susanna Moodie’s Roughing It in the Bush and Pauline Johnson’s Legends of Vancouver
Where does literature begin? This question becomes especially pressing when we recognize that the contours of early Canadian literature have never been stable. The first edition of the Literary History of Canada (1964; Klinck) mapped a broad socio-cultural terrain that included the writings of poets and novelists, explorers and travellers, historians and social scientists, philosophers and theologians...
Rediscovering Re(Dis)covering: Back to the Second-Wave Feminist Future
The publication in 1990 of Re(Dis)covering Our Foremothers: Nineteenth-Century Canadian Women Writers marked a turning point in the history of English-Canadian literary history. Edited by Lorraine McMullen, the volume represented the proceedings of the 1988 Reappraisals: Canadian Writers conference (April 29–May 1, 1988) at the University of Ottawa...
Lady Audley’s Secret versus The Abbot: Reconsidering the Form of Canadian Historical Fiction through the Content of Library Catalogues
Over the last two decades, critical interest in Canadian historical fiction has been largely confined to texts published in the latter half of the twentieth century and the early twenty-first.1 However, recent developments in early Canadian studies, together with recent changes in international theorizing about the rise of the novel, can invite a fresh look at Canadian fiction of the nineteenth century, whose example should not be overlooked. Early novelists grappled with the formal problems that...
“Not Legitimately Gothic”: Spiritualism and Early Canadian Literature
One of the drawbacks to establishing a literary critical tradition is that scholars sometimes risk excluding the impact of cultural movements that, although related, lie outside that tradition’s defined theoretical parameters. Gothicism—generally understood as a literary mode characterized by mysterious or horrific happenings, often symbolic in nature, that create a sense of terror or fear—has become an accepted...
The Canadian Canon, Being “On the Other Side of the Latch” and Sara Jeannette Duncan’s Anglo-Indian Memoir
Christa Zeller Thomas
The title of Sara Jeannette Duncan’s autobiographical journal of a summer of illness, spent “on the other side of the latch” or ‘shut out’ from her own home, is oddly prescient and symbolic considering the standing with critics of this work, specifically, and Duncan’s position in the canon of Canadian literature in general: while Duncan’s journalism and some of her fiction have received considerable critical attention in...
The Duelling Authors: Settler Imperatives and Agnes Laut’s Denigration of Pierre Falcon
One of the most striking aspects of Agnes Laut’s Lords of the North is its treatment of Pierre Falcon. The 1900 historical novel has become pivotal in the memorialization of the Métis bard, reproducing several of his poems and being the sole source of one the best-known works attributed to him, “The Buffalo Hunt.” Falcon is of course a singular figure in nineteenth-century Western Canada, being a popular...
Anna’s Monuments: The Work of Mourning, the Gender of Melancholia and Canadian Women’s War Writing
In the southwest corner of St. James Cemetery in Toronto, Captain William Arthur Durie is buried. The monument that rises above his grave is approximately ten feet tall and made of solid, grey stone (see Appendix). It is not a perfect replica of Reginald Blomfield’s Cross of Sacrifice which marks war cemeteries in Europe; but it’s close. Arthur’s monument is smaller than most; the inset sword is a graven image, not...
Hidden Hunger: Early Canadian Women Poets
In the year 2000, Canadian Poetry Press published an anthology of early Canadian women poets entitled Hidden Rooms. As the editor, I chose the title as an homage to Isabella Valancy Crawford’s poem “The Hidden Room” (1884), Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (1929) and P. K. Page’s The Hidden Room: Collected Poems (1997), but also as a reminder of the hidden status of early Canadian women writers, and poets in particular, within the Canadian canon...
Judging by Appearances: Thomas Chandler Haliburton and the Ontology of Early Canadian Spirits
Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s 1849 The Old Judge; or, Life in a Colony is a peculiar document. Part novel, part cultural history, part compendium of local politics and legend, part ghost story, the book has proved something of a puzzle to literary scholars, who either emphasize its encapsulation of Haliburton’s reflections on leaving Nova Scotia to settle in England or overlook it altogether in favour of his much more easily accessible “Sam Slick” narratives...
Hallowed Spaces/Public Places: Women’s Literary Voices and The Acadian Recorder 1850–1870
The space many early Canadian newspapers devoted to literature constitutes an important, and largely unexplored, site of scholarly investigation. Here many women writers published their poetry and fiction in special sections, sometimes full pages, which were clearly meant to target women readers with their domestic and sentimental focus. Drawing on theorizing by American and Canadian critics of sentimental literature, ...
Who’s In and Who’s Out: Recovering Minor Authors and the Pesky Question of Critical Evaluation
In his “Conclusion” to the Literary History of Canada (1965), when Northrop Frye declares that Canadian literary scholars in general, and the authors of that work in particular, have “outgrown the view that evaluation is the end of criticism” and that the essays therein are “cultural history” (821), he set the course for how studies in early Canadian literature would progress. Scholars in the field of early Canadian literature...
Texts and Contexts: CEECT’s Scholarly Editions
Mary Jane Edwards
In a paper that appeared in a 2007 issue of Australasian Canadian Studies, I stated that the account was “the latest, and possibly the last, version of the work called CEECT” that I should prepare (“The Centre” 15). I was wrong, however, for I spoke again about the project at “Rediscovering Early Canadian Literature,” the Canadian Literature Symposium held at the University of Ottawa in May 2010. Giving the talk in the city where...