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RE: Reading the Postmodern

Canadian Literature and Criticism after Modernism

Edited by Robert David Stacey

Publication Year: 2010

It would be difficult to exaggerate the worldwide impact of postmodernism on the fields of cultural production and the social sciences over the last quarter century—even if the concept has been understood in various, even contradictory, ways. An interest in postmodernism and postmodernity has been especially strong in Canada, in part thanks to the country’s non-monolithic approach to history and its multicultural understanding of nationalism, which seems to align with the decentralized, plural, and open-ended pursuit of truth as a multiple possibility as outlined by Jean-François Lyotard. In fact, long before Lyotard published his influential work The Postmodern Condition in 1979, Canadian writers and critics were employing the term to describe a new kind of writing. RE: Reading the Postmodern marks a first cautious step toward a history of Canadian postmodernism, exploring the development of the idea of the postmodern and debates about its meaning and its applicability to various genres of Canadian writing, and charting its decline in recent years as a favoured critical trope.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Series: Reappraisals: Canadian Writers


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pp. ix

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Introduction: Post-, Marked Canada

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pp. xi

At one time in the academic and intellectual life in this country, various discourses of literature, visual art, and architecture lay significant institutional forces that channelled a genuine enthu-and readers (less often producers) into publishing contracts, ac-ademic conferences, and university syllabi. While it is true, as ...


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Boundary 2 and the Canadian Postmodern

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pp. 1-8

I propose to give a personal account of my experience as co-editor, with William Spanos, of boundary 2: a journal of postmodern literature while I was teaching at the State University of New York at Binghamton. I will explore the origins of my version of ...

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Canadian Postmodernisms: Misreadings and Non-readings

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pp. 9-38

Theorists of the postmodern usually locate themselves outside of the postmodernisms they study. Linda Hutcheon’s books are not in their form postmodern texts, nor are those of Brian...

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The Glories of Hindsight: What We Know Now

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pp. 39-54

As the clich

En Garde! Traditions, Counter-Traditions, Anti-Traditions

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Postmodern Postmortem: Irony and Literary History in Linda Hutcheon’s Poetics

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pp. 57-86

In the opening pages of her 1994 study Irony’s Edge: The Theory and Politics of Irony, Linda Hutcheon bid farewell to her widely influential work of the 1980s and early 1990s on postmodern poetics...

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Getting Ready to Have Been Postmodern

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pp. 87-102

“Postmodernism,” as a category of literary analysis, is now more than two decades old in Canada—but despite copious volumes of work done on the subject since the influential publication of The Canadian Postmodern by Linda Hutcheon in 1988, the...

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Feeling Ugly: Daniel Jones, Lynn Crosbie, and Canadian Postmodernism’s Second Wave

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pp. 103-122

It is surely not provocative to assert that postmodern literature in Canada, as it has been produced and analyzed during the last forty years, is neither uniform nor cohesive; postmodern discourse, of course, revels in fragmentation, multiplicity, undecidability...

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Reconciling Regionalism: Spatial Epistemology, Robert Kroetsch, and the Roots of Canadian Postmodern Fiction

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pp. 123-150

Few scholars are likely to remember that it was actually a Canadian group, Le Conseil des Universiti

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Postmodern Decadence in Canadian Sound and Visual Poetry

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pp. 151-180

In the groundbreaking book on Canadian modernism Aestheticism and the Canadian Modernists, Brian Trehearne concludes with a rather whimsical speculation about Canadian postmodernism. Having successfully demonstrated the dominant in...


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Attack of the “Latté-drinking Relativists”: Postmodernism, Historiography, and Historical Fiction

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pp. 183-202

Part of the prevailing mood in Canadian literature and literary criticism with the turn of the millennium is a sense that postmodernism might have reached its zenith. This collection, which follows the publication of Linda Hutcheon’s influential...

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“The Postmodern Impasse” and Guy Vanderhaeghe’s The Englishman's Boy

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pp. 203-228

In The Canadian Postmodern, Linda Hutcheon identifies what she sees as a productive “paradox” that characterizes the novels she terms “historiographic metafiction.” In Hutcheon’s...

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Postmodern Realism and Photographic Subjectivity in The Stone Diaries

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pp. 229-248

On the cover of Linda Hutcheon’s The Canadian Postmodern (1988) is an image by Canadian photographer Nigel Scott (Figure 1), which Hutcheon describes as paradigmatic of postmodern parody because it simultaneously exploits and undercuts...

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Re-performing Microhistories: Postmodern Metatheatricality in Canadian Millennial Drama

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pp. 249-268

Twenty years ago, Ric Knowles published a seminal article, “Replaying History: Canadian Historiographic Metadrama.” In that article, he transposes Linda Hutcheon’s model of historiographic metafiction—which she applies almost exclusively to...

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F the Ineffable! The Allegorical Intention in Ghostmodernism

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pp. 269-294

If saints are by definition unfuckable, Leonard Cohen’s exhortation in Beautiful Losers to “Fuck a saint!” is an oxymoronic imperative, a bid to do the impossible. In my (and Cohen’s) working definition, a saint stands as a metonym of the ineffable; fucking, on the other hand, is commonly seen as pertaining to...


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Bowering, Postmodernism, and Canadian Nationalism: A Short Sad Book

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pp. 297-312

In conversation with Alan Twigg in 1988, George Bowering remarked that nobody writes about his 1977 novel A Short Sad Book and that “everybody is writing articles now on Burning Water.” Indeed, the later novel has received more critical attention...

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Re: Reading the Postmodern—“Mess is Lore”

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pp. 313-340

The symposium Re: Reading the Postmodern held at the University of Ottawa in the spring of 2008 brought together several generations of Canadian poets, literary scholars, and scholarsto- be.2 My paper enacts this generational crisscross. I argue for....

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Why Postmodernism Now? Toward a Poetry of Enactment

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pp. 341-358

Drawing on the work of Fredric Jameson in their call for papers, the organizers of Re: Reading the Postmodern asked contributors to consider whether postmodernism might be better understood....

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Contributor Biographies

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pp. 359-364

Brooker’s stories, essays, and manifestos was published by the University of Ottawa Press in 2009. His essays have appeared in journals such as Studies in Canadian Literature, Essays on Cana-dian Writing, and many others. He has three books of poetry: If Press, 2009), and Psychic Geographies and other Topics (Quattro ...


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pp. 365-390

E-ISBN-13: 9780776619248
E-ISBN-10: 0776619241
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776607399
Print-ISBN-10: 0776607391

Page Count: 440
Illustrations: 18 b&w photographs
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Reappraisals: Canadian Writers