ENG252Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Imagined Communities, Canadian Identity, Dramatization

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Published on 15 Jan 2015
School
UTSG
Department
English
Course
ENG252Y1
ENG252Y Lecture #2
Sept 16, 14
Thomas King - Green Grass, Running Water (GGRW)
Literature and Nation
Culture and Mythology
Rhetoric and Ideology
Questions to Ask: (1) What does it mean to talk about Canada as a Nation?
(2)What are literatures relation to Canada, and what counts as Canadian Literature?
Answer: (1) Canada, broadly speaking, is easily definable as a Nation-State, but is
harder to define as a Nation
General Definition of a Nation: A group of people claiming political
sovereignty due to a shared ethnicity, language, religion, history, territory
and/or culture
Each point is debateable since there is not one clear distinction. (Eg. In
Canada, there is not one set religion; in fact, there are many different
kinds).
(2) In order to properly answer the question of what is literatures relation to Canada, it
must be known that culture and literature work together to act as foundational aspects of
Canadian Identity.
How? For example, print and nationalism work hand-in-hand to form and
imagine a community centered largely on literature. This occurred quite
often in Europe and would occur often in Canada
This now requires another definition of a Nation: “[A]n imagined political
community and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.” –
Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities
What could then count as Canadian Literature could be a
multitude of aspects not only including literature (eg. Canadian TV
and music). Why? Because maybe by putting an emphasis on
literature, it could aid in other methods of being able to establish
Canada as its own nation – that could be the very reason why the
Canadian gov’t puts such an emphasis on Canadian Literature
But these very institutions (eg. Canadian gov’t) and others also allow for the circulation
of myth
Mythology: A set of stories that dramatize the world vision of a people or culture
Myths often talk about how a community was formed; their origins; their survival, etc…
Myths also circulate and re-circulate, so they cannot be singlehandedly attached to one
author – they belong more to the community as they circulate throughout the world
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ENG252Y Lecture #2
Sept 16, 14
Examples of Canadian Myths suggested by students in lecture: Canadian
politeness (eg. Canadians apologizing for bumping into others); Mounties: The
key figure of Canadian “peace, order, good government,” as they were originally
established to maintain order and good gov’t in the Canadian West
Northrop Frye on literature: “conscious mythology”
Certain literary texts begin to hold certain myths and stereotypes of a nation that could
eventually take apart a nation and their meanings, as the meanings become more for
show (eg. Their cultural stories and backgrounds, etc…)
*Refer to the opening quote on the syllabus by Jonathan Kertzer
It suggests that literature is an art of cultural persuasion
Its also asking us to think of literature as rhetoric (the art of verbal persuasion),
suggesting that literature is making arguments in one way or another
In a station of the metro: the apparition of these faces in the crowd; petals on a
wet, black bough – Ezra Pound (1913)
Offering a metaphor, which has two parts: the tenor (literal thing being
described, which is the faces in the crowd) and the vehicle (describing the literal
reference: the petals) and the last statement is the argumentative portion
It’s also describing it in such a way that it wants the readers to believe that that is
how the world is portrayed as. That’s how the author wants the readers to see
their world
How Jonathan Kertzer (man on front page of syllabus) describes National
Literature in Canada
1) It is through cultural persuasion that nations come into being as imagined
communities
Must be persuaded that such a group exist – one way literature might function to
sway the nation is to tell another nation of a nation’s tale in an attempt to make it
their own
2) The national life can be unjust, even monstrous
The use of the definite article ‘the’ in “the national life,” denotes emphasis on
singular and national life, which could be used to imagine how there might be a
certain national exclusionary to the Canadian land (eg. Leaving out certain
people; their history, etc…)
Another example: Birth-rite lottery, which could be seen as unfair to others, as
people born in other countries might already be provided with more opportunities
(eg. Being born in a first world country VS. being born in a third world country)
3) Literature is compromised by its immersion in ideology
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Document Summary

Thomas king - green grass, running water (ggrw: literature and nation. General definition of a nation: a group of people claiming political sovereignty due to a shared ethnicity, language, religion, history, territory and/or culture. Each point is debateable since there is not one clear distinction. (eg. For example, print and nationalism work hand-in-hand to form and imagine a community centered largely on literature. This occurred quite often in europe and would occur often in canada. This now requires another definition of a nation: [a]n imagined political community and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign. Benedict anderson, imagined communities: what could then count as canadian literature could be a multitude of aspects not only including literature (eg. canadian tv and music). Because maybe by putting an emphasis on literature, it could aid in other methods of being able to establish. Canada as its own nation that could be the very reason why the.

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