CDNS 2210 Lecture Notes - Northrop Frye, Canadian Literature, John Cabot

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Colonial Canada
- John Cabot “discovered Canada” 1497
- French claim Northern half of Canada, were established around the fur trade
- French settlers set up town, they went deep into Canada, but it was hard to
get settlers, Canada was very unsettled at the time
- Britain and French keep fighting to gain control over Colonial Canada
- British go more for the south (America)
- 17 and 18th century, France looses interest in Canada, they stop giving
supplies to French in Canada
- Fed 10 1763, British wins, gets most of French territories (Northern
America), they establish a colonial government in Colonial Canada
- Small towns and garrisons, small towns
o Idea is that Canada develops this culture where people are spread out
by great distances
- With the switch to British rule, Canada adopts a culture which is very close to
the United States, both speak English, share similar geographic features ,
rules same arm of the British government (until America revolution)
- Gradual process of independence (which happened gradually)
o tend to be thought we have a very anti revolutionary sprite (counter
o In Canada, independence came though a series of legislative processes
which deny opportunity for revolution vs. U.S revolution
- How does Canada still have a Colonial mindset?, Frey says Canada is only
country in the world that is pure colonial
o Canada waits for British independence instead of grabbing
independence like America
o Also in terms of Mercantile economics, where people extract things
from the environment, like wood and minerals and gas, and export to
other places and are then refined and made into products, then are
sold back to us
o Much of world is very indifferent from Canada, still invisible to much
of world, which (he believes) comes from this period of colonial times
in Canada where the country was always an obstacle to the imperial
powers like Britian or France, never something people actually
wanted, seen as a colonial space,
o Believes that Canada needs to get rid of colonial mindset, unite the
country with different cultural attributes with a goal to getting rid of
colonial mindset Frye
- Consequences of the Colonial Mentality
o Need to make Canada unique
He argues that much of Canadian looked to London as the place
where culture emerged, Canada was an inferior place
o What makes Canada different from the US
Canada protected against the influence of U.S
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Once a colony for British, Canada might become a colony for
the U.S, what the anti colonialist were dealing with at the time
Canada needs to develop something that is unique and
marketly different from U.S.,
He believes that Canada needs to be unique, need to be
protected for thee states, argues that Canadians can capitalize
on sense on nationalism that happens during the world war
o Looking to develop a national culture by looking at the landscape
Which he believes is unique in Canada
Believes that Northern part of Canada separates from rest of
He is looking from a set of expressions, vocab, etc, that would
get rid of the colonial mind set, which they believe comes from
the landscape, separates especially from U.K,
- Northrop Frye
o Background
Studied at UFT, Oxford,
Thought at UFT
He is a literally critique, who critiques William Blake
o He comes up with this systems of myths , Interest in Myth
He argues that myths that exists in literature are being
repeated by poets or writers, and all these myths are passed
down unconsciously through generations, can trace pomes
backwards through many generations
o Frye’s “Conclusion”
In his conclusion to literary of Canada, idea that mythic
patterns of recurrence, applies that idea to Canada
Argues that Canadian culture is developed in small towns that
is surrounded by wilderness and cut of by civilization (his
thesis), living in a garrisons, this experience gets mapped onto
Canadian culture (stamped onto the Canadian experience),
which comes up in Canadian literature, everything outside of
the walls of garrisons is dangerous, he is looking backwards to
Canadian literature and tracking these ideas that come up
again and again
- Frye’s Approach
o Structuralism every piece of writing is part of a system, so every
piece of literature fits in with other pieces of literature that is being
produced at the same time, see codes that are built into literally works
that emerge time and time again
o Social Conditions Canadian social conditions produce a very
particular type of literature, people work on the land constantly and
extracting things from that landscape, people are more concern with
the basic elements of survival in Canada, as result, Canadians haven’t
produced great works of literature
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