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Essays on the Canadian Short Story
Adolescence and the Making of Modern Canada, 1920 to 1950
Adolescence, like childhood, is more than a biologically defined life stage: it is also a sociohistorical construction. The meaning and experience of adolescence are reformulated according to societal needs, evolving scientific precepts, and national aspirations relative to historic conditions. Although adolescence was by no means a “discovery” of the early twentieth century, it did assume an identifiably modern form during the years between the Great War and 1950.
The Dominion of Youth: Adolescence and the Making of Modern Canada, 1920 to 1950 captures what it meant for young Canadians to inhabit this liminal stage of life within the context of a young nation caught up in the self-formation and historic transformation that would make modern Canada. Because the young at this time were seen paradoxically as both the hope of the nation and the source of its possible degeneration, new policies and institutions were developed to deal with the “problem of youth.” This history considers how young Canadians made the transition to adulthood during a period that was “developmental”—both for youth and for a nation also working toward individuation. During the years considered here, those who occupied this “dominion” of youth would see their experiences more clearly demarcated by generation and culture than ever before. With this book, Cynthia Comacchio offers the first detailed study of adolescence in early-twentieth-century Canada and demonstrates how young Canadians of the period became the nation’s first modern teenagers.
Interrogating the Times
Doris Lessing: Interrogating the Times wrestles with the ghosts that continue to haunt our most pressing twenty-first-century concerns: how to reconceive imprisoning conceptions of sexuality and gender, how to define terrorism, how to locate the personal, and how to write on race and colonialism in an ever-slippery postmodern world. This collection of essays clearly establishes Lessing’s importance as a unique and necessary voice in contemporary literature and life. In tracing the evolution in Lessing’s representations of controversial subjects, this volume shows how new cultural and political contexts demand new solutions. Focusing on Lessing’s experiments with genre and on the ramifications of narrative itself, the collection asks readers to reformulate some of their most taken-for-granted assumptions about the contemporary world and their relation to it. Contributors to Doris Lessing: Interrogating the Times assess Lessing’s vision of the past and its relevance for the future by revisiting texts from the beginning of her career onward while at the same time probing previous interpretations of these works. These reassessments reveal Lessing’s continued role as a gadfly who, in disrupting rigid constructions of right and wrong and of good and evil, forces her readers to move beyond “you are damned, we are saved” narratives. As rationales such as these continue to permeate global venues, Lessing’s oeuvre becomes increasingly relevant.
Intersections between Canadian Literature and Film
Over the past forty years, Canadian literature has found its way to the silver screen with increasing regularity. Beginning with the adaptation of Margaret Laurence’s A Jest of God to the Hollywood film Rachel, Rachel in 1966, Canadian writing would appear to have found a doubly successful life for itself at the movies: from the critically acclaimed Kamouraska and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz in the 1970s through to the award-winning Love and Human Remains and The English Patient in the 1990s. With the more recent notoriety surrounding the Oscar-nominated Away from Her, and the screen appearances of The Stone Angel and Fugitive Pieces, this seems like an appropriate time for a collection of essays to reflect on the intersection between literary publication in Canada, and its various screen transformations. This volume discusses and debates several double-edged issues: the extent to which the literary artefact extends its artfulness to the film artefact, the degree to which literary communities stand to gain (or lose) in contact with film communities, and perhaps most of all, the measure by which a viable relation between fiction and film can be said to exist in Canada, and where that double-life precisely manifests itself, if at all.
Double-Voicing the Canadian Short Story is the first comparative study of eight internationally and nationally acclaimed writers of short fiction: Sandra Birdsell, Timothy Findley, Jack Hodgins, Thomas King, Alistair MacLeod, Olive Senior, Carol Shields and Guy Vanderhaeghe. With the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature going to Alice Munro, the “master of the contemporary short story,” this art form is receiving the recognition that has been its due and—as this book demonstrates—Canadian writers have long excelled in it. From theme to choice of narrative perspective, from emphasis on irony, satire and parody to uncovering the multiple layers that make up contemporary Canadian English, the short story provides a powerful vehicle for a distinctively Canadian “double-voicing”. The stories discussed here are compelling reflections on our most intimate roles and relationships and Kruk offers a thoughtful juxtaposition of themes of gender, mothers and sons, family storytelling, otherness in Canada and the politics of identity to name but a few. As a multi-author study, Double-Voicing the Canadian Short Story is broad in scope and its readings are valuable to Canadian literature as a whole, making the book of interest to students of Canadian literature or the short story, and to readers of both.
A Dialogue Between Writers and Readers
This lively and diverse bilingual collection of essays by writers and critics examines contemporary Canadian literary arts. The perspectives range from highly personal and introspective to scholarly and objective, yet each adds significantly to an understanding of the dialogue between writers and readers. Proceedings from a workshop held at the Calgary Institute for the Humanities during the summer of 1982, the volume includes such contributors as E.D. Blodgett, Jacques Brault, Richard Giguère, D.G. Jones, Myrna Kostash, Peter Stevens, Aritha van Herk, and Christopher Wiseman.
The collection will naturally be of interest to any student of Canadian literature, but the essays also forcefully address, both explicitly and implicitly, the question of a nationalism of the arts, an issue of great importance to performers and critics in many fields.
Essays on Arctic Narrative
A Play by Oscar Ryan et al.
This volume comprises a reprinting and gloss of the original text of the 1933 Communist play Eight Men Speak. The play was banned by the Toronto police after its first performance, banned by the Winnipeg police shortly thereafter and subsequently banned by the Canadian Post Office. The play can be considered as one stage – the published text – of a meta-text that culminated in 1934 at Maple Leaf Gardens when the (then illegal) Communist Party of Canada celebrated the release of its leader, Tim Buck, from prison. Eight Men Speak had been written and staged on behalf of the campaign to free Buck by the Canadian Labour Defence League, the public advocacy group of the CPC. In its theatrical techniques, incorporating avant-garde expressionist staging, mass chant, agitprop and modernist dramaturgy, Eight Men Speak exemplified the vanguardist aesthetics of the Communist left in the years before the Popular Front. It is the first instance of the collective theatrical techniques that would become widespread in subsequent decades and formative in the development of modern Canadian drama. These include a decentred narrative, collaborative authorship and a refusal of dramaturgical linearity in favour of theatricalist demonstration. As such it is one of the most significant Canadian plays of the first half of the century, and, on the evidence of the surviving photograph of the mise-en-scene, one of the earliest examples of modernist staging in Canada.
The Promise, the Glory, and the Despair of Louisbourg's Last Decade