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Home Words

Discourses of Children’s Literature in Canada

Mavis Reimer

Publication Year: 2008

The essays in Home Words explore the complexity of the idea of home through various theoretical lenses and groupings of texts. One focus of this collection is the relation between the discourses of nation, which often represent the nation as home, and the discourses of home in children’s literature, which variously picture home as a dwelling, family, town or region, psychological comfort, and a place to start from and return to. These essays consider the myriad ways in which discourses of home underwrite both children’s and national literatures.

Home Words reconfigures the field of Canadian children’s literature as it is usually represented by setting the study of English- and French-language texts side by side, and by paying sustained attention to the diversity of work by Canadian writers for children, including both Aboriginal peoples and racialized Canadians. It builds on the literary histories, bibliographical essays, and biographical criticism that have dominated the scholarship to date and sets out to determine and establish new directions for the study of Canadian children’s literature.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Series: Studies in Childhood and Family in Canada


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

RESEARCH FOR THE ESSAYS IN THIS COLLECTION and the consultations and meetings of the researchers were supported by a multi-year grant for collaborative research from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada through its Research Development Initiatives program. Additional funding came from the University of Winnipeg; Grande Prairie Regional College, Alberta; the University of Victoria; Deakin University...

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INTRODUCTION: Discourses of Home in Canadian Children's Literature

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pp. xi-xx

Enter “home” as a search term in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary and your computer screen quickly fills with a long list of possible sites to visit. Printed out, the entry for the primary term yields more than thirty pages of definitions and examples of the word, as noun, adjective, verb, and adverb. This listing is followed by listings for more than seventy-five words, compounds, and phrases...

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CHAPTER 1: Homing and Unhoming: The Ideological Work of Canadian Children's Literature

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pp. 1-26

The most valued story in English-language Canadian children’s literature is a narrative in which the central child character, pushed out of an originary home by the decisions or behaviour of powerful adults, journeys to an alien place and, after a series of vicissitudes that occupy most of the tale, chooses to claim the unfamiliar space as a new home. In this story, home is understood to be a product of human shaping and sharing, an...

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CHAPTER 2: Les représentations du « home » dans les romans historiques québécois destinés aux adolescents

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pp. 27-50

Récemment, la grande romancière américaine Alison Lurie rappelait que « dans les classiques de la littérature pour la jeunesse, le héros est généralement un enfant qui quitte son foyer et sa famille et connaît diverses aventures avant de regagner son foyer » (132). On comprend alors pourquoi la critique anglo-saxonne a fait du concept du « home » un axe essentiel dans sa recherche d’une spécificité de la...

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CHAPTER 3: Le home : un espace privilégié en littérature de jeunesse québécoise

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pp. 51-66

Le mot home évoque en nous tous des résonances profondes. Ce seul signifiant, comme l’explique Danielle Thaler dans l’article précédent, a une richesse de signifiés d’ordre géographique, historique, social, politique et psychologique. C’est notre « coin du monde », notre « premier univers » (24) d’après le philosophe Gaston Bachelard. Dans son étude classique...

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CHAPTER 4: Island Homemaking: Catharine Parr Traill's Canadian Crusoes and the Robinsonade Tradition

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pp. 67-86

It is perhaps not surprising that one of the earliest Canadian books for young readers tells the story of a group of children of European settlers who survive the elements and the hostilities of the Native people and build a home for themselves in the wilderness. While Catharine Parr Traill’s Canadian Crusoes (1852) is an early entry in the tradition of Canadian wilderness survival narratives, it is also...

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CHAPTER 5: Home and Native Land: A Study of Canadian Aboriginal Picture Books by Aboriginal Authors

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pp. 87-106

For the past four years, we have been engaged in the rewarding, though often challenging, task of compiling a comprehensive bibliography of Aboriginal children’s literature by Aboriginal authors.1 Our work on this bibliography has given us a unique opportunity to survey the wide range of books aimed at or read by audiences up to and including young adults, written by authors who identify as Aboriginal...

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CHAPTER 6 At Home on Native Land: A Non-Aboriginal Canadian Scholar Discusses Aboriginality and Property in Canadian Double-Focalized Novels for Young Adults

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pp. 107-128

This essay will eventually do what its title suggests. But after much anxiety and many false starts, I’ve concluded I can’t discuss Aboriginality in novels for young adults without first discussing my non-Aboriginal, non-young self—specifically, the history of my involvement with one of the texts I plan to consider: False Face, a novel about young people and Aboriginality by the also non-Aboriginal, non-young

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CHAPTER 7: White Picket Fences: At Home with Multicultural Children's Literature in Canada?

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pp. 129-144

This chapter is a critical effort to think more carefully about the situation of children’s texts by writers of colour1 in Canada. Such books typically attend to the experiences of those traditionally not considered as making up the “mainstream.” Such a focus has routinely resulted in their designation as forms of “multicultural children’s literature,” a category placing such racialized writing in particular...

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CHAPTER 8: Windows as Homing Devices in Canadian Picture Books

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pp. 145-176

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 Anne of Green Gables introduces Anne’s first morning through an opened window that conjures an opportunity seemingly unrealizable: But it was morning and, yes, it was a cherry-tree in full bloom outside of her window. With a bound she was out of bed and across the floor. She pushed up the sash—it went up stiffly and creakily, as if it hadn’t been...

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CHAPTER 9: The Homely Imaginary: Fantasies of Nationhood in Australian and Canadian Texts

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pp. 177-194

My involvement in the “Home” project over the last three years has necessitated a continuous process of comparative reading: my encounters with Canadian texts have been shaped by my knowledge of Australian children’s literature, and conversely I now read Australian texts in the light of Canadian material. The connections between the two literatures, as between the preoccupations that drive Australian and...

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CHAPTER 10: Home Page: Translating Scholarly Discourses for Young People

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pp. 195-224

A group of scholars meets, discusses, writes, critiques, meets again. A rich and exciting discussion of ideas of “home” in Canadian children’s literature develops. The project leaders wish to make their ideas available to a wider public than the strictly academic circles in which it initially occurs. My role in this project is to find ways of bringing these ideas to a broader readership. This chapter describes the processes of exploring potential conduits to...

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AFTERWORD: Homeward Bound?

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pp. 225-232

When Mavis Reimer invited me to join this project in 2002, she asked that I work as a “metacritic,” along with Australian metacritic Clare Bradford; we were to provide a kind of oversight of the group’s work, commenting on how their inquiries into the meanings and functions of home operating in Canadian children’s books might resonate in the wider context of more general discourse and scholarship on Canadian and Australian...


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pp. 233-260


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pp. 261-264


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pp. 265-276

E-ISBN-13: 9781554581221
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554580163
Print-ISBN-10: 1554580161

Page Count: 308
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Studies in Childhood and Family in Canada