Last week I received copies of two new publications. The first is a new edition of L.M. Montgomery’s novel A Tangled Web (1931), published by Dundurn Press, for which I wrote a new introduction. The second is an article titled “Agency, Belonging, Citizenship: The ABCs of Nation-Building in Contemporary Canadian Texts for Adolescents,” published in the Autumn 2008 issue of Canadian Literature. It is an expansion of a paper I first gave at the International Symposium on Adolescent Literature at Ningbo University (China) in May 2007. Here is the abstract:
Abstract: This paper pinpoints the ways in which discourses of agency, belonging, and citizenship are staged in a handful of Canadian texts for adolescents published in the last twenty-five years: Beatrice Culleton’s April Raintree (1984), Marlene Nourbese Philip’s Harriet’s Daughter (1988), Deborah Ellis’s Parvana’s Journey (2002), Glen Huser’s Stitches (2003), and Martine Leavitt’s Heck Superhero (2004). These novels depict young people who are marginalized due to oppressive discourses such as racism, patriarchy, homophobia, poverty, and the dissolution of the nuclear family, and thus lack the support systems of the status quo. At the same time, they appear to broach larger questions about the construction of the Canadian nation alongside the story of a central protagonist’s growth from relative immaturity to relative maturity. Undercutting the dominant fantasy of a liberal and diverse nation-state, these narratives refuse to resolve or settle oppressive discourses that conflict with official policies of multiculturalism, keeping the ideal nation in sight but out of reach.