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124Victorian Review MacLaren (Alberta) turned our focus simultaneouslyto the past and northward, prompting yet more understanding of the Victorian artist's, explorer's, and publisher's methods of bringing new areas to the British pubUc by presenting them in the guise of traditional forms. Just as ships' journals attest to the attempt of English sailors (especially officers) to make English prospects (such as a cricket ground) in the High Arctic, the sketches by ships' artists offer the bizarre comedy of ice pressure ridges transformed to hedgerows and deciduous trees appearing in landscapes hundreds of mUes above the tree line. Our Conference Convenors, JuUet McMaster and Glennis Stephenson, complemented this intellectual fare with sumptuous snacks; a post-conference party at the McMasters put the ideal finishing touch to the Nineteenth Annual Conference, October 11-13, 1990. Dale Wilkie University of Alberta EDITOR'S NOTE: We wanted to end this summary with something that would capture the essence of the other side of VSAWC conferences, the social side. Here then, to remind you of a most memorable moment from Friday evening's banquet and entertainment, is a transcript of L. M. Findla/s introduction to his stirring reading of WiUiam McGonagall's "Women's Suffrage." Before starting to read, you may want, to help recall the moment exactly, to indulge in a few too many glasses of port or Irish Mist. Situating the Bard After I had hesitantly agreed on the telephone, Juliet McMaster sent me a text to read for you this evening. It was a text both familiar and strange, so, being me, I had of course to situate it theoretically before it could become a Uttle more my own. Here is the result of that act of situation, an instance of academic weaseling if you will. I am charged with giving a reading from a bard whose time has come, the unjustly marginalized WiUiam McGonagall, that dour, overdetermined figure ofthe pedestrian muse at Queen Victoria's gates. McGonagall is an aufhor-fuction hitherto too readily dismissed, invisible from theory's panopticon, unreadable by even the most voracious textual fetishist, and thought of more generally as the loon who gave doggerel a bad name. But we know better, don't we? We can see and savour not only the fhematized deconstruction of "The Tay Bridge Disaster," but, more discursively in his oeuvre, a shrewdly ironized post-Romanticism whose dominant symbols are not the Mirror and the Lamp but the Sphincter and the Cramp, the non-ludic re-corporealizing of the transcendental in the commode of production. McGonagall put the pith back in epithtemology, displacing the floating by the sunken signifier, the phonocentric and phalUogocentric by the trope of motivated ineptitude. Sit back and enjoy, then, the suave brutality of his prosody, the ideological arhythmia of the foUowing assault on state apparatuses, the aporetic convergence of the cliche and Kierkegaardian repetition. After I have finished reading, you may wish to reconsider the implications of that familiar expression, "A figure of fun. [There foUowed a reading of "Women's Suffrage"] L. M. FINDLAY ...


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