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Billy the Kid

Course Code
Robert Mc Gill

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January 24, 2011
The 1960s: US Violence and Canadian Nationalism
Billy the Kid as Canadian in 70s?
Violence in 60s 1963 John F. Kennedy, 1964—Civil Rights Act, Vietnam war
antagonism towards authority, 68/60, MLKJ death, invasion of Czech, student
uprising in Paris, Race riots, days of rage in Chicago ‘weather underground
series of bombings against government
Story about young American man caught up in violent relationship with the
Against will to the war (Vietnam) if not than put in jail
Hollywood movie restrictions violence and sex, Jest of God Bonnie and Clyde,
the Wild Bunch (Western) allegory of Vietnam
Allegorychance to look back at consolidation of America
Necessity of violence in order to bring civilization to a place
Vietnam engaged in same self justified war
Peace-keeping nation 1957 Lester B Pearson international diplomat
Canadas position to stay out of Vietnam war
New flag, 67 100 years of nation new vigor, celebration
Recognition that Canada wasnt caught up in the type of violence US was
Excepted draft resisters 1000s—most of them stayed Canadian (Trudeau)
haven for draft resisters
Conservative country became progressive alternative
House of a Nancy published Billy but in 1960s also published Manual for Draft
age immigrants to Canada 1968
Said you do not leave civilization behind when you cross the border. In fact,
many Canadians would claim that you enter it.
Trying to diagnosis the problem Billy has ambelivient regard for violence.
Marshal McLuhan framed Canadian identity in 1977
sharing the American way without commitment to American goals or
responsibilities, makes the Canadian intellectually detached and observant as an
interpreter of the American destiny… Canadians have instant access to all
Americans radio and television which, experienced in the alien milieu of Canada,
feeds the philosophic attitude of comparison and contrast and critical judgment.
The Collected Works as Canadian Literature (published in 1970)
Margaret Atwood published Susanna Moody works then too both biographies
in the guise of autobiography --- reimagining on a very intimate level
notion of coherence but then lyric poem, multiplicity in characters
speak explicitly or implicitly from beyond the ground (Billy has already died
when he first speaks and Moody last poem in graves)
the impossibility of giving voice to historical characters

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Moody sees double and feels split, Billy same split but external split too in Pat
intense, even hard to know who is talking
Wants readers to be on board with blurring lines (Ondaatje border blur
technique he calls it)
Life death, reason insanity, violence of reason/art, art and body, comiclastic
Directed and released a documentary about B.P. Nickel in same year
Billy is third book of poetry, won Governors General award, Prime Minister
protested it shouldnt have won because Billy wasnt Canadian John
Ondaatje moved to Canada, did B.A. at U of T
There is little that is identifiable or stereotypically Canadian about Michael
Ondaatjes book
70s framed thinking about Canada
persistent natural aspect
community and individuality
literary realism
Page 1: The making of History
Historiography writing of events in time but also a book about historiography
what happens to history when it is written?
I send you a picture of Billy.. frame of nothing above the words (Huffmans
words) acknowledgementdifficult to capture things on the move especially
when you are n the move the question of collectingspecimens as photographs
Empty spaceironic—originally had the photo in—comment on how no
particular image of them really reflect who they arethe limitations of
capturing Billyreaders active in imagining, meaning doesnt come neutrally,
create meaning by looking through perceptive lens—subjective experience and
border blurinformation that isnt there
The importance of framing- the field of representation that needs to be engaged
withlooking through iterative and figurative frames—emphasizing the
importance of perceptive
Attention to the ways technology attempt to capture the body, camera becomes a
way to arrest the body, violence to body but a shooting of a different sort in the
line of fire gun vs. camera
Billy having to stand still for a long time while getting his photo takenallusion
and in-authenticity Billy is always in motionmisrepresents him but picturing
him as still
Labor and making to make comes up three times in opening page transparent
passive record of the world but here shows the work involved in creating
Billy getting us to do work—explanations of who is speaking at certain points,
Billy or Pat, Billy or Ondaatje
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