The Canadian literary institution is distinguished by, among other things, a preponderance of feminine voices. Few national literatures can claim the relative prevalence of canonic female writers, extending from Francis Brooke (the author of the first novel written in North America) in the 18th century to such contemporaries as Alice Munro (winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature) and Esi Edugyan (winner of the 2018 Giller Prize). Throughout its history and across a diverse spectrum of literary genres, Canadian literature has seen the emergence of women writers who have indelibly shaped the Canadian imaginary.
In this Hauptseminar (offered as a block seminar), we will examine an historically-based selection of women writers from the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. In reading representative works by these authors, our goal will be three-fold: to examine each text according to those qualities that have secured it a place in the Canadian literary canon, to inquire into the ways in which each text has informed understanding of the evolving Canadian imaginary and, finally, to explore possible links between the texts and their authors which, in the aggregate, might offer insight into why the Canadian literary institution has produced so many canonic feminine voices.
Tentative List of Required Reading:
Lucy Maude Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, 1908
Margaret Laurence, The Stone Angel, 1964
Margaret Atwood, Surfacing, 1972
Jeannette Armstrong, Slash, 1985
Esi Edugyan, Washington Black, 2018
N.B. Course Requirements: Presentation on a relevant topic of the student’s choice
Final essay of approximately 15 pp.