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386 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 'Theatrical Transvestites on the Canadian Prairie,' and Robin McGrath on 'Inuit Women's Autobiographies' all go beyond a purely empirical report of an investigation and succeed best, not only in establishing an argument but in drawing broader conclusions from it. McGrath's title, for instance, 'Circumventing the Taboos,' provides, taken along with excerpts from the autobiographies themselves, a mise en abynze of the collection as a whole. Brydon's account of a vestige of ancient custom surviving into the day of multiculturalism catches what I have always experienced as a main feature ofsmall-group sociology: the partplayed by the abrasions of one individual personality upon another. Michael Taft is both broad and analytical in his combination of the concepts of gender studies with close observation, to illuminate th.e half-buried psychological significance ofcross-dressed mockweddings : to demonstrate masculinity precisely by bemg a 'good sport' about pretending to femininity. The studies of more deracinated present-day social phenomena are, for the most part, less satisfactory, though of course they further confirm the book's central point, that folklore studies cannot be tied only to the quaint, the nostalgic, and the vanishing, if they are to regain their rightful place in the intellectual world. Jean Heffernan, to return to the beginning of the book, set the pattern for (her) future (our present) by rightly insisting on the continuity of folklore from the lives of Nova Scotian fisherfolk caught in the customs of an older time into the lives of our industrialized contemporaries , whose own local culture is every bit as legitimate an object of study. (PATRICIA MERIVALE) David Solway. Lying about tlze Wolf: Essays in Culture and Educatio11 MeGill-Queen's University Press. 316. $55.00 cloth, $19.95 paper The blurb offers the reader the clearest introduction to this impressive polemic's concems: Solway explains that the current generation ofstudents, raised in a nonhistorical and iconic environment, do not live in time as an emergent, continuous medium in which the complexities of experience are parsed and organized. Their psychological world is largely devoid of syntax - of causal, differentiaC and temporal relations between events. The result is precisely what we see around us: a cultural world characterized by a vast subpopulation of young (and not so young) people for whom the past is an unsubstantiated rumour and the future an unacknowledged responsibility. Solway claims that contemporary educators have become cultural speculators who disregard a basic truth about how the mind develops: that it needs to be grounded in reality and time. In education, as in almost every other cultural institution, the sense of reality and the dynamic of time have 'virtually' disappeared, leading to the deep disconnectedness we HUMANITIES 387 experience on every level of 'human grammar/ from the organization of the community to the organization of the sentence. Excellent stuff! Yet if you begin by reading the book, you come up against sentences like this: 'What happens next in the normal course of development has been largely disregarded owing, no doubt to its extreme obviousness . The mimicry function not only accompanies speech as a marginal illustration of the central text of expression or as a kind of somatic to a preponderant verbalism, adding sinew and vigour to oral expression but is taken up, subsumed, transformed and absorbed into the very rhythms of speech itself, that is, into the plastic or replicative tonality of the verbal event.' As the author confesses in a note (the endnotes are two-thirds the length of the main text): '[Solway's former book] is in some respects a barbarous book: a trifle windy, heedlessly abrasive, and somewhat opsimathic. As this one is.' As my teenage grandson might reply, 'Yeah whatever.' The problem here, as we try to teach our own students, lies in assessing the audience for whom one is writing. Lying about the Wolf is a profoundly learned book; it does not wear that learning lightly. Since it addresses educational questions, and is written by an academic, then presumably it seeks an audience of those in the teaching trade. It addresses our concerns about our students. When it ventures upon suggesting solutions to the problems that it convincingly analyses...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 386-388
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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