Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Course Outline

Alien-Nation: the Canadian State in Literature

A national literature is an essential element in the formation of national character.
E.H. Dewart, “Introductory Essay,” Selections from Canadian Poets, Montreal, 1864.
Canada is an alien nation to many of its constituents. Immigrant cultures, by definition; First Nations, from imposed European economic and political structures; French from Anglophone; geographic region from geographic region; urban elites from rural and suburban culture; Don Cherry from Margaret Atwood: for these and more, alien-nation is all but indisputably the state, and the State of Canada. Indeed, the inability to find any agreement at all on what Canadian identity is - beyond the puerile or the petitio - suggests that Canada is alienated from itself. To illustrate that this is true no less for the dominant culture as for those more marginal, this course presents for reading and analysis established texts from the mainstream of Canada’s national literature, 1920 to now, that, each in an intriguingly different way, represents the Canadian alien nation. Students will be encouraged to express and develop their own position on this, in response to the texts as the course progresses. A Term ‘alienation’ project invites the introduction of any aspect of Canadian culture congenial to the student’s interests to embellish a creative and scholarly personal engagement with the literary texts and course theme. After all, being told what to think by institutional elites is yet one more aspect of Canadian alien nation, and from which students will doubtless be delighted to find themselves here spared.
Montgomery, L. M. Emily of New Moon
Wilson, Ethel The Innocent Traveller
Richler, Mordecai The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
Kogawa, Joy Obasan
Brown, Chester Louis Riel
Atwood, Margaret Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth
Avison, Margaret Always Now: Volume I

15% Productive participation
20% Mid-term essay (2000 words)
30% Term Alienation Project
35% Final essay (3500 words)
To receive credit for this course, you must complete all requirements.