Hemispheric Travel and the Imaginary: the Literatures of Canada and Québec

Marie Vautier, Professor
Department of French
University of Victoria

This presentation will “push the boundaries” of the time-frame for the Canadian and Québécois texts to be analysed in the major research project, as it will begin with a chronological survey of texts (mainly novels) published in both French and English Canada, with a double focus on firstly, cross-cultural interactions and secondly, a hemispheric shift in the imaginaries of the literatures of Canada, ending with an analysis of a 21st-century novel. Beginning with what are widely considered to be the “first” Canadian and Québécois novels to be published, The History of Emily Montague by Francis Brooke and L’Influence d’un livre by Philippe Aubert de Gaspé, fils, this paper will argue that both novels were open to the “Other,” as represented by references to the opposing linguistic body (French or English). The presentation will then provide a rapid diachronic overview of texts published in English and French in Canada, and will underline both cross-cultural interactions (English-French) (Bouthillette) within the literatures of Canada and the fascination with the city of Paris (and possibly, London) which is obvious in the literary imaginaries of several texts (Scobie; Scobie/Vautier). This will then be followed by references to some late 20th-century authors, whose work reveals the beginning of a shift in attitudes toward Paris (and possibly, London) as a cultural mecca for Canadian and Québécois writers. The presentation will finish with an in-depth analysis of a 21st-century novel, Nikolski by Nicolas Dicker, and the main thrust of the argument here will be to unpack the diminishing importance of Europe and the United States and the increasing importance of Latin America on the contemporary literary imaginary

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