Duncan Lucas by 4c0dB5

VIEWS: 1 PAGES: 4

									Loss and Trauma in Canadian Literature I

“Poetries of Community: Africville Recollected”

Dating back to at least 1812, Africville, a waterfront neighborhood at the north end of Halifax,
Nova Scotia, was home to a historic and cohesive black community. In 1947, the city of Halifax
designated Africville as industrial land, and thus began a twenty year project to claim the land
for the city's economic gain. In 1970, Halifax city councilors deemed the Africville relocation
project a success as bulldozers razed the last building standing on the site. Africville residents
were not consulted in the planning stages of the city's rezoning; their concerns were ignored,
their voices silenced. I would like to suggest that the art, and particularly the poetry, that
emerged from this community in the wake of its violent separation from home reconstitutes the
lost voice and reconnects the dispersed residents. The Africville poems of George Elliott Clarke,
Maxine Tynes, and Frederick Ward call to and celebrate collective memory, creating a place in
which to grieve the loss of shared space and to retrieve the connections of community. This
poetry of place calls its reader to bear witness, and so extends an invitation to join the spirit of
the community and to respond to the testimony of its loss.

Erica Kelly
Brock University
ek99ac@brocku.ca



“Broken Metaphors: Nationalism and Trauma in the Writing of Ying Chen”

 In a quest to construct collective identity, nationalist rhetoric often relies on metaphors to bind
individuals to geographic space. Transcending boundaries and peoples, the shadow of home is
thus far-reaching and ever-extending. As Homi Bhabha points out, metaphor “transfers the
meaning of home and belonging across those distances and cultural differences that span the
imagined community of the nation people” (The Location of Culture). In many cases, this
linguistic process involves a figuration of woman as mother, lover or daughter of the nation.
Recent fiction by migrant writers often engages with this rhetoric, calling into question its
legitimacy in an era of transnationalism. The writing of Chinese-Canadian writer Ying Chen, for
example, obsessively explores metaphors of her homeland through the traumatic experience of
exile. This paper examines Chen’s use of trauma as a way to disturb China’s nationalist
narratives of womanhood. Her female characters repeatedly refuse to take on the burden of
nationalism and its metaphors. La Mémoire de l’eau, Les Lettres chinoises and L’Ingratitude are
all stories of disruption and displacement within the national narrative. Each of these three
novels questions the rhetoric of nationalism by evoking an act of violence that unhinges the
metaphors created to give meaning to the nation.

Subha Xavier
University of Wisconsin-Madison
slxavier@wisc.edu
“Holocaust Trauma and Ethically Responsible Writing”

In Phyllis Gotlieb’s Why Should I Have All the Grief? (1969) and Anne Michaels’s Fugitive
Pieces (1996), the Holocaust destroys the early lives of survivors Heinz Dorfman and Jakob Beer
respectively. Readers witness their emotional re-births, processes taking contrasting paths toward
satisfaction. Temporally, Heinz reverses the psychological cataclysm to find catharsis; Jakob
travels ever further from terror. Gotlieb writes Holocaust literature; Fugitive Pieces is not
Holocaust literature, but ‘post-Holocaust response literature.’
        D.G. Myers critiques ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’ interpreting Holocaust testimonials as
hiding meaning. Testimonials of terror hide nothing. Critical response to Holocaust writing “is
ethical before it is interpretive,” and academics bind them to interpretations “by what they take
themselves to be responsible for.” These considerations are turned on writer responsibility and
the ethics of representation.
        Gotlieb writes: “And trying to extrapolate from the ruin of the past the extent of salvage
possible in the future.” By contrast, Michaels warns: “It’s not the unknown past we’re doomed to
repeat, but the past we know.” Gotlieb more successfully captures and relates trauma, the less
intense psychology of Fugitive Pieces reflecting a generational distancing from the socio-
historical terror-event. Yet both novels successfully advance an ethos of mutual support and
social responsibility for the Other, ‘lest we forget.’

Duncan Lucas
McMaster University
duncanal@interlynx.net



“Gregory Scofield's AIDS Elegies in a Native Canadian Context”

My paper focuses on AIDS elegies by Metis poet Gregory Scofield. Jeff Nunokawa has argued
that the AIDS elegy is politically suspect because it easily plays into perceptions of
homosexuality itself as a fatal illness. This danger is especially threatening within the context of
a mainstream culture that often views not just gay men, but also native peoples as doomed.
Scofield's poems nonetheless utilize and revise many of the conventions of poetic mourning in
order to write the deaths of the "two-spirited" community into one of the dominant discourses of
mourning in Western culture, the elegy. Following recent queer readings of elegy, I show how
Scofield exploits the homoeroticism latent in the genre, deploying imagery of male-male
marriage in order to articulate communal solidarity and a celebratory, fully embodied sexuality.
Writing of his own sense of identification with the dying, stressing the fusion of native and non-
native funerary rituals, Scofield confronts perceptions of gay men and native cultures as
moribund while simultaneously emphasising his own survival and revivifying native traditions.
Scofield's elegies perform a specifically Native Canadian task of mourning in a straight-and-
white dominated culture.

Sara Jamieson
University of Alberta
saraj@ualberta.ca
Loss and Trauma in Canadian Literature II

“Incest Autobiography: I am Canadian”

For the past twenty-five years, Canadian writers Charlotte Vale Allen, Sylvia Fraser, Elly
Danica, Janice Williamson, and ten others have been making substantial contributions to the
genre of incest autobiography. In doing so, they have encouraged the reversal of the unwitting
damage caused by alternate forms of sexual abuse disclosure: the unfortunate and accidental
tendency for social science books to profile and “other” victims through disease discourse, and
the propensity for media coverage, especially in the form of talk shows, to overexpose,
sensationalize or even popularize victimization. Further, the incest autobiographers have risen to
the unenviable task of combating gag-order groups like the False Memory Syndrome
Foundation. Allen and the others have been so successful in their efforts because their books are
at once homogeneous and diverse: they share a general structural pattern and, therefore, together,
form a sizable counternarrative; yet, their strikingly individual political and literary investments
speak to the heterogeneous experience of surviving and articulating incest. Collectively, the
Canadian incest autobiographers make and shape the evolving but under-examined genre--a
genre which is not embraced as part of the national canon but one which has the potential to
renegotiate the borders of Canadian literature, autobiography, and twentieth-century trauma
writing.

Jocelyn Williams
Memorial University
jocwilli@stfx.ca


“Women and Loss in Alice Munro’s Recent Fiction”

In much of Alice Munro’s recent fiction (1998, 2001, 2004), various kinds of losses, including
deaths, seem emphatically foregrounded. Munro’s latest collections feature stories whose
(often) female protagonists face their own deaths or those of others close to them, or some other
significant loss, such as that of connection to their children. In my current attempt to understand
Munro’s newer stories such as “Trespasses” and “Silence,” I will be focusing on the process of
female characters’ realization that they may have lost their children—even when still alive—for
good, and exploring the ways in which the narrator or character tries—whether successfully or
not—to articulate and cope with their sense of loss. In addition to reflecting back on my earlier
discussion (presented at the 2002 MMLA) of the contrast between Munro’s stories and the
traditional elegy, my discussion of the stories of lost children will also be situated in the larger
context of other recent stories by Munro that deal with losses (for example, of possibility of
youthful romance), such as “Tricks” and “Passion,” and will address the issue of retrospective
and more mature responses to the memory of youthful losses by older characters and narrators.


Tomoko Kuribayashi
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
tkuribay@uwsp.edu
“Collaboration and Mourning in P.K. Page and Philip Stratford’s And Once More Saw the Stars”

P.K. Page’s most recent book of new poetry, And Once More Saw the Stars (2002), co-written by
Philip Stratford, has received no sustained critical comment, despite the intriguing issues it raises
as a collaborative text and as a work of mourning. Unbeknownst to Page, Stratford had cancer
while writing this renga-by-correspondence with her; he died before the poem was finished.
Page edited the book and published it after her collaborator’s death. Although the double
authorial signature suggests equal textual ownership, the posthumous conception of the text
skews the collaboration, granting more agency to Page’s authorial voice, and effectively
rendering the text “haunted” by its other, absent “parent.” This paper argues that And Once
More... is more than a tribute: it is also a work of mourning that allows Page to confront the
ghost of an archetypal male figure – aligned at times with her father and her husband, both
deceased by 2002 – which haunts many of her earlier poems. Informed by Derridean theories of
mourning and by recent Page criticism, this paper identifies in the text a recurrence of one of the
most powerful and enigmatic figures in Page’s poetry, and examines her new means of
approaching it.

Kaya Fraser
University of Western Ontario
kaya_fraser@hotmail.com


“Survivor’s Guilt and Trauma in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake”

Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx and Crake explores survivor’s guilt and trauma in the character
of Jimmy/Snowman and his relationship with the Crakers. Although Jimmy/Snowman is at best
naïve and at worst ignorantly responsible for Crake’s annihilation of the global population, I
argue that to fully understand Jimmy/Snowman we must keep in mind that as the caretaker of the
Crakers he is coping with the loss of his culture and at the same time helping the Crakers to form
a community. Jimmy/Snowman has been exiled and dislocated, but he cannot witness the horror
and intensity of his trauma. He alone struggles through the process of sorting through memories
to discover where conscious understanding and memory fail, and where truth emerges, after
traumatic experience. Jimmy/Snowman chooses to shield the Crakers from the loss of their
former life. The fictions that he tells the Crakers reflect his commitment to keep their world the
same as it was before the destruction. In his caring for the Crakers, Jimmy/Snowman must put
their needs in front of his own articulation of loss.

Tara Johnson
Ball State University
tjjohnson@bsu.edu

								
To top