“In Search of Someday: Trauma and Repetition in Joy Kogawa’s Fiction.” Journal of Canadian Studies / Revue d’études canadiennes 44, no. 3 (Fall 2010): 154–73.
Synopsis: This essay brings to the forefront the work by Joy Kogawa that preceded and followed her watershed novel Obasan (1981), which privileges the perspective of a traumatized child to narrate the internment of Japanese Canadians during and after the Second World War. The objective of the essay is to address an overlooked pattern of repetition and revision that can be traced across these multiple texts—a sequel, Itsuka / Emily Kato; a revision for children, Naomi’s Road; and a thematic follow-up, The Rain Ascends—all of which were revisited by Kogawa after their initial publication. Drawing on pivotal work on trauma and memory, the essay considers to what extent Kogawa’s larger story of oppression, dispersal, and forgetting is unconcludable.
“‘The Same as Bein’ Canadian’: John Marlyn’s Eye among the Blind.” Studies in Canadian Literature / Études en littérature canadienne 34, no. 1 (2009): 22–40.
Synopsis: This paper investigates the role a child protagonist placed in a setting of suffering and injustice can play in the construction and performance of cultural citizenship in Canada, with particular attention to the ways that confirming or resisting the values of the status quo becomes linked with a young protagonist’s coming of age. In John Marlyn’s Under the Ribs of Death (1957), Sandor Hunyadi defines himself not within his own Hungarian community but in relation to “the English,” a term used interchangeably to signify a language, a class, an ethnicity, a nation, and an identity. But because the novel calls into question his desire to assimilate to such a narrow view of Canadian citizenship, he becomes an ironic “eye among the blind” in the citizenship debates that have persisted across the history of the nation.
“Agency, Belonging, Citizenship: The ABCs of Nation-Building in Contemporary Canadian Texts for Adolescents.” Canadian Literature 198 (Autumn 2008): 91–101.
Synopsis: 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.
“Adolescence through the Looking-Glass: Ideology and the Represented Child in Degrassi: The Next Generation.” Canadian Children’s Literature / Littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse 33, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 82–106.
Synopsis: Drawing on British theories of representation as well as on Canadian, American, and Australian studies of adolescent problem fiction, this paper discusses the complex system of representation at work in the television series Degrassi: The Next Generation, an adolescent soap opera in which episodes approach topical issues through good storytelling and a range of appealing characters for adolescent viewers to identify with. By focusing on two extended storylines dealing with abortion and gay male sexuality, the paper investigates how the series produces and circulates a range of subject positions for adolescent viewers to consider.
Award: Recipient of the Graduate Student Essay Award, Children’s Literature Association (USA) (2006).
« L’abandon du Grand Récit : réflexion sur la révision de l’identité québécoise dans le dernier tome du roman Les Filles de Caleb ». Dans Francophonie, diversité, écriture(s) : les enjeux, les défis, les possibles, sous la direction de Maroussia Ahmed et Madeleine Jeay. Numéro spécial, Voix plurielles 3, no. 1 (mai 2006).
Synopsis: Cet article retrace les changements abordés dans le dernier volet du roman Les Filles de Caleb d’Arlette Cousture, un récit que plusieurs lecteurs/lectrices et téléspectateurs/téléspectatrices ont reçu comme une tranche de leur Histoire nationale québécoise commune. En se penchant sur le statut de la femme, l’effondrement du pouvoir de l’Église catholique, la redéfinition du cadre familial et l’élargissement des possibilités identitaires au Québec dans les années frôlant la Révolution tranquille, l’article met en relief la révision au « Grand Récit » que ce dernier volet, L’abandon de la mésange (2003), offre à son lectorat francophone.
“Pigsties and Sunsets: L.M. Montgomery, A Tangled Web, and a Modernism of Her Own.” English Studies in Canada 31, no. 4 (December 2005): 123–46.
Synopsis: This paper reconsiders whether L.M. Montgomery, author of two dozen novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables, rejected modernism, an assumption that continues to be made by both her supporters and her detractors. By reading her experimental novel A Tangled Web (1931) through the lens of feminist challenges to limited definitions of modernism, the paper examines the novel’s innovations to structure, narration, and subject matter in the context of Montgomery’s responses to evolving trends in the fiction of this period.
“From Bad Boy to Dead Boy: Homophobia, Adolescent Problem Fiction, and Male Bodies That Matter.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 30, no. 3 (Fall 2005): 288–313.
Synopsis: Drawing on the theories of Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, and Mieke Bal, this paper examines two Canadian young adult novels—Diana Wieler’s Bad Boy (1989) and Brian Payton’s Hail Mary Corner (2001)—in which a gay male supporting character is used as a catalyst for a heterosexual protagonist’s gendered development. Although both straight heroes earn growth and forgiveness in what appear to be “satisfying” resolutions, the gay friends they reject remain trapped within a discourse of homophobia that is not adequately overturned. The ritualized rejection of the gay male body thus becomes a regulatory practice, not only for the supporting characters but potentially for the adolescent readers that these texts address.
Reprinted: In Children’s Literature Review 119, edited by Tom Burns, 137–53. Detroit: Gale Group, 2007.
“Stand by Your Man: Adapting L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.” In “Literatures, Cinemas, Cultures,” edited by Peter Dickinson. Special issue, Essays on Canadian Writing 76 (Spring 2002): 149–69.
Synopsis: This essay investigates the ways in which the film and television adaptations of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables have eclipsed the very source text from which they are derived. Through an intertextual reading of two key films—a 1934 “talkie” from RKO Radio Pictures and Sullivan Entertainment’s 1985 television miniseries—the paper strives to discover how the films’ misunderstanding of the book’s satire and subversive messages works for viewers who have not read Montgomery’s text.
Reprinted: In Children’s Literature Review 145, edited by Tom Burns, 143–54. Detroit: Gale Group, 2009.
“L.M. Montgomery: An Annotated Filmography.” In “L.M. Montgomery™ and Popular Culture II.” Special issue, Canadian Children’s Literature / Littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse 99 (Fall 2000): 43–73.
Synopsis: From the multiple film and television versions of Anne of Green Gables to the weekly television series Road to Avonlea and Emily of New Moon, the numerous televisual adaptations of the work of L.M. Montgomery have enjoyed unprecedented popularity with viewers around the world while sometimes remaining enormously controversial to readers of her work. This annotated list of these productions is designed to aid scholars, readers, and viewers in their understanding of this ongoing phenomenon.
Revised and expanded version: https://lmmonline.org/screen/.
“‘Waging the War’: The Religious Right’s Obsession with Homosexuality.” Journal of Religion and Culture 13 (1999): 109–23.
Synopsis: This paper examines a political, religious, and legal quagmire that became a site of multiple tensions in late-twentieth-century North American cultures: the Religious Right’s obsession with the so-called “homosexual lifestyle.” From a series of ads in prominent American newspapers persuading gay people either to convert to heterosexuality or choose celibacy to the “outing” of a purple Teletubby, these interventions in popular media coincided with legal shifts in Canada (particularly Québec) that sought to eliminate heterosexist double standards in the definition of “common-law spouse.” This paper traces some of the contentious debates about this social issue, from Biblical reinterpretation and liberation theology to “nature versus nurture” and the validity of “sexual reorientation,” responding to the work of such social scientists and theologians as Sara Diamond, Richard D. Mohr, Eric Marcus, Mary E. Hunt, and Rosemary Radford Ruether.
“Walter’s Closet.” Canadian Children’s Literature / Littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse 94 (Summer 1999): 7–20.
Synopsis: This paper argues that the life and death of Walter Blythe at the centre of L.M. Montgomery’s novel Rilla of Ingleside are completely atypical within the boundaries of the Bildüngsroman for which Montgomery’s work is renowned. Instead of representing Prince Edward Island as an Edenic concept of home and family, here Montgomery employs the imagery of the Island to symbolize the physical safety, the emotional security, and the sexual innocence of a character who is always seen as “different” in ways that are often associated with the homosexual closet.
Award: Recipient of the MacGuigan Prize for best undergraduate essay on an aspect of English literature since 1700, Concordia University (1999).
Reprinted: In Children’s Literature Review 91, edited by Scot Peacock, 184–93. Detroit: Gale Group, 2004.