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Wang, Mei-Chuen
Languages: English
Types: Doctoral thesis
Subjects: PS
This thesis investigates the expansion and continuing proliferation of Canadian historical fiction during the past three decades, and makes a case for reading a number of these novels as postmodern historical fiction. Characterized by the postmodern tendency to problematize history and cross genre boundaries, the novels discussed here are nevertheless rooted in their Canadian context. To establish a theoretical framework, the thesis reviews the reconfiguration of history in contemporary critical theories and its impact on the writing of history and historical fiction, and investigates the debate over Canada's postcoloniality. In the textual analysis, I address the questions raised by the interaction between postmodern problematization of history and local concerns in the selected novels. What narrative strategies are employed to launch an epistemological and ontological questioning of history? Are alternative reconceptualizations of history offered after the problematization? How do these texts achieve genre transgression through narrative devices and what is the purpose of this? What meta-narratives of national history are challenged? What national myths are subverted and dismantled? Are some other myths accidentally reasserted in this deconstructive process? What effects does this historical revisionism or scepticism have on the understanding of Canadian national identity? The focus of the discussion is on the relationships between formal experimentation and thematic concerns and the ways these texts interweave general critiques of history and its representation with specific investigations into the Canadian context. Finally, I propose explanations for the flourishing of contemporary Canadian historical fiction by taking into account both the combined theoretical framework and the complexities and subtleties of the texts under scrutiny. The thesis concludes that the authors of these novels have complicated the postmodern questioning of history at a variety of levels and made that questioning accommodate the novelists' concern with Canadian specificities.
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    • Lee, Sky, Disappearing Moon Cafe (Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1990)
    • MacDonald, Ann-Marie, Fall on Your Knees (New York: Pocket Books, 1996)
    • Michaels, Anne, Fugitive Pieces (New York: Vintage, 1996)
    • Ondaatje, Michael, In the Skin o f a Lion (New York: Vintage, 1987)
    • Sweatman, Margaret, Fox (Winnipeg, Canada: Turnstone Press, 1991)
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    • -, 'The Imaginary Ethnic: Anachronies, (Im)Mobility and Historical Meaning in Obasan and Disappearing Moon C afe\ in Tricks with a Glass: Writing Ethnicity in Canada, ed. Rocio G Davis and Rosalia Baena (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000), pp. 191-208
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    • -, The Historical Novel (London: Routledge, 2009)
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    • Duffy, Dennis, Sounding the Iceberg: An Essay on Canadian Historical Novels (Toronto: ECW Press, 1986)
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    • Fludemik, Monika, 'History and Metafiction: Experientiality, Causality, and Myth', in Historiographic Metafiction in M odem American and Canadian Literature, ed. Bemd Engler and Kurt Muller (Paderbom: Ferdinand Schoningh, 1994), pp. 81-101
    • Foucault, Michel, 'Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,' in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, trans. Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1977), pp. 139-64
    • Francis, Daniel, National Dreams: Myth, Memory, and Canadian History (Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1997)
    • -, '1919: The Winnipeg General Strike', History Today, 34: 4 (1984), 4-8
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    • -, 'Semiotic Control: Native Peoples in Canadian Literatures in English', in Unhomely States: Theorizing English-Canadian Postcolonialism, ed. Cynthia Sugars (Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2004), pp. 191-203
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    • -, Paths o f Desire: Images o f Exploration and Mapping in Canadian Womens Writing (Toronto: University o f Toronto Press, 1997)
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