Post Colonial Literature in English: Canada

Annotated Bibliography -- Canada

David Harris, Aidan Fadden, and Brendan Martin

This document has been adapted for the Postcolonial Literature and Culture Web from the Imperial Archive project with the kind permission of Dr Leon Litvack. It was written under his supervision as a requirement for the MA degree in Modern Literary Studies in the School of English, the Queen's University of Belfast. [The original document last revised 18 May 1998: (1) 1998 Additions by Aidan Fadden; (2) 1998 Additions by Brendan Martin.

Cornell, George L. "The Imposition of Western Definitions of Literature on Indian Oral Traditions". The Native in Literature. Ed. T. King, C. Calver, and H. Hog. Downsview: ECW Press, 1987, 174-87. Important and convincing piece on the wrong and the right ways to approach Oral literature. Very helpful for those unfamiliar with this tradition.

Crowe, Keith J. A History of the Original peoples of Northern Canada. Montreal: Mcgill-Queen's UP, 1991. Interesting and informative account, although aimed at the secondary school market.

Duffy, Dennis. A Tale of Sad Reality: John Richardson's Wacousta. Canadian Fiction Studies no. 20. Toronto: ECW Press, 1993. Entertaining and sharp analysis, placing the text in a variety of historical, biographical and generic contexts. Unpacks numerous levels of textual significance.

Francis, Daniel. The Imaginary Indian: The Image of the Indian in Canadian Culture. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1992. Excellent survey of representations of Natives in all sorts of cultural arenas, from the C19th to the present day. Easy to read.

Frye, Northrop. Conclusion to Literary History of Canada. Traditional, but penetrating and insightful, discussion of Canada's imaginative and cultural history, its struggle for a clear identity.

Hurley, Michael. "Patterns of Significance in the Fiction of John Richardson." Recovering Canada's First Novelist; Proceedings from the John Richardson Conference. ed. Catherine Seldwick Ross. Erin, Ont: Porcupine's Quill, 1984, 87-98. Good on doubles and recurring structures, in all of Richardson's work. Particularly informative for those interested in The Canadian Brothers.

Hurley, Michael. "Wacousta as Trickster: The Enemy of Boundaries." Journal of Canadian Studies 26.3 (1991): 63-79. Interesting, in unconvincing, mythic and psychological interpretation.

King, Thomas. "Godzilla vs. Post-colonial." World Literature Written in English 30 (Autumn 1990), 10-16. Interesting piece on PC theory by a writer often theorised about, rejecting the validity of the term as it applies to Native Lit, and proposing instead his own classificatory framework.

McNaught, Kenneth. The Pelican History of Canada. Guildford: Penguin, 1969. Interesting example of a traditional ethnocentric history that subtly, but almost completely, writes Natives out of the equation.

Monkman, Leslie. "Indian Antagonists". A Native Heritage: Images of the Indian in English-Canadian Literature. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1981, 7-27. Standard but helpful account.

Saywell, John. Canada: Pathways to the Present. Toronto: Stoddart, 1994. An official publication, but quite informative about the national image the Canadian authorities would like to project.

1998 additions by Aidan Fadden

Primary Works:

Atwood, Margaret. Surfacing. 1972. Toronto: General Paperbacks, 1983. A very interesting novel for its treatment of gender politics, consumerism and contemporary colonial consequences. In many ways it is transitional, straddling the first and second waves of feminist writing and appropriating ‘non-realist’ formal developments.

Hemingway, Ernest. The Collected Stories. Ed. James Fenton. London: Everyman - David Campbell Publishers Ltd., 1995. Many interesting stories relating to the outsider or isolate within and outside their native society.

Morrison, Toni. Jazz. 1992. London: Picador, 1993. Treats race, gender and class issues within America through the metaphor of the Jazz Age. Narrative voice shifts and merges to make interesting and expressive formal structure.

Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. 1966. London: Penguin, 1997. ‘Writing back’ to Jane Eyre, Rhys interrogates canonical form and its gender standpoint from the perspective of a Carribean creole community, raising issues of identity and cultural dissonance.

Secondary Works

Gardiner, Michael. The Dialogics of Critique: M.M.Bakhtin and the Theory of Ideology. London: Routledge, 1992. Graham draws on this work for its discussions of Bakhtinian theory.

Graham, Colin. Ideologies of Epic: Nation, Empire and Victorian Epic Poetry. New York: Manchester University Press, 1998. Provides a productive, general theoretical framework for the discussion of ideological imperatives in literature.

Lorde, Audre. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” Ed. Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua . This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Latham, New York: Kitchen Table Press, 1983. 99. This essay is treated well by Trinh T. Minh-Ha and the central metaphor of ‘The Master’s House’ is illuminating for discussions of essentialism and resistance theory.

Trinh T. Minh-ha. Woman, Native, Other: Writing, Postcoloniality and Feminism. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1989. Rpt. in The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. Ed. Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. London: Routledge, 1995. 264-68. Good on problems of finding an authentic ‘voice’ and negotiating ‘difference’ without succumbing to the seduction of mimicry.

1998 Additions by Brendan Martin

Primary Sources

Coupland, Douglas. Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. London: Abacus, 1991. Coupland’s first novel which deals with the global and national fears of a generation aged between mid-twenties and mid-thirties. Slated by some Canadian reviewers.

Gibson, William. Neuromancer. London: HarperCollins, (1984) 1993. Science fiction for a society approaching the millenium. Futuristic in its concerns, the themes which Gibson, who developed the terms virtual reality and cyberspace, explores relate perfectly to life in the 1990s.

Lee, Dennis. “Cadence, Country, Silence: Writing in Colonial Space.” Boundary 2, 3 (1) (Fall), 1974. Discussion of problems experienced by contemporary Canadian authors. Lee states that is his responsibility to reinvent the language of the colonizer.

Weibe, Rudy. “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” Canadian short fiction: from myth to moden. ed. W. H. New. Scarborough: Prentice-Hall, 1986.An investigation of the means the colonizer has used to erode the presence of Natives from Canadian history. Argues that his plight is similar to that of the Cree.

Secondary Sources

Atwood, Margaret. Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature. Toronto: Anasi, 1972. Discussion of themes relevant to Anglophone Canadian literature. Investigates Northrop Frye’s use of the term “garrison mentality”.

Boone, Laurel. “A review of Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture.Books in Canada. 20, 1991, 50-1. Unfavourable review of Coupland’s novel, which she describes as “shallow”.

Fawcett, Brian. “Malaise of the Mall-Raised.” Books in Canada Vol. 21, 1992, 44-6. Fawcett criticizes the mind-set of the Canadian literary establishment, who chose to initially ignore Coupland’s novel.

Maddox, Tom. “Cobra, She Said: Aan Interim Report on the Fiction of William Gibson.” Fantasy Review 9, April 1986, 46-8. Review of the themes dominating Gibson’s fiction, with particular emphasis on Neuromancer. Maddox aargues that Gibson has become the representative voice of the 1990s.

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