Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Modern cultural, literary and linguistic perspectives

Canadiana Special Issue of 2012

Preface to Freeside Europe-Canadiana Special Issue of 2012

Judit Ágnes Kádár, guest editor


As the guest editor of Freeside Europe-Canadiana special issue of 2012, I am honoured to introduce a series of essays that present some directions in the recent crop of Canadian Studies in Hungary and some neighbouring countries. The original aim of Freeside has been to connect different academic fields related to a shared platform, in this case Canadian culture. The authors' contributions present a wide array of topics comprising of modern and postmodern literature and film, gendered and liminal identity in modern and post-colonial writing, Asian and Caribbean Canadian voices, hybridity in Métis literature, and even Dorset culture and the Paleo-Eskimo Belief System. Finally, a new initiative of introducing Canadian Studies for the high school entitled The Canadian-German-Hungarian Cultural Reader is introduced by its two authors, while in the last section of our online journal an overview  of the founding and development of the Central European Association for Canadian Studies (CEACS) which may reveal an important perspective on Central European  academic endeavours enhancing literary and cultural relations with Canada today. The first Canadiana special issue of Freeside Europe is an initiative to offer publication opportunity on topics related to Canadian culture, while we also wish to foster further studies that reflect more contemporary academic explorations of both interdisciplinary and comparative nature.


In this issue, a founder of Canadian Studies in Hungary, Anna Jakabfi's essay entitled "Canadian Identity Becoming Important to Writers - Children of the British Empire" explores some transatlantic literary ties at the turn of 19th-20th centuries, namely Ralph Connor alias Rev. Charles William Gordon, Sarah Jeannette Duncan, Stephen Leacock, and ‘Grey Owl' alias Archibald Belaney. As the author argues, they were spokespersons and teachers of some special cause: of Christian values, small town nostalgia in Anglo-Protestant Canada, or of environment protection. Andrea Szabó F.'s "Defamiliarizing the Happy Ending and Refamiliarizing the Land: Alice Munro's "Real Life" investigates some (semi-)peripheral regional cultural identities, the writer's non-nostalgic view on restrictive small towns and her character's desire to break out. Eszter Szenczi's essay focuses on the problem of cultural hybridity in Twentieth Century Métis Autobiographies, in Beatrice Culleton's In Search of April Raintree respectively. Identity politics reflected in literature are merged here with the textual analysis of reading through racial lines in the narrative on Métis identity and Indigenous reality.


A French-Canadian scholar, André Dodeman's "Writing the Province in David Adams Richards's Miramichi Trilogy" takes us to an important aspect of Canadian letters, namely regionalism and Maritime identity in particular. The author highlights Richards' notions of identity and the problem of authenticity in view of the specific sense of space and time his fictional construction of time and landscape depicts. In that context, the timelessness of peripheral provincial towns is presented as opposed to the towns as artificial centres and representations of modernity criticized by the writer.


In her essay, Judit Nagy discusses the metaphors of belonging with regards to ethnic Canadian short fiction. The problems of integration, maintenance of the home culture and interaction with the host culture as well as marginalization are analysed here, while exploring the potentials of borderline cases which emerged at the classification of Asian and Caribbean ethnic short fiction writers' metaphors of belonging and not belonging through the employment of some cross-cultural psychological patterns of acculturation. The essay reveals the lack, the insufficient or implied reference to the host culture, some ambiguous references to the home and the host culture as well as the presence of more than one host culture, extending her framework of analysis with the process of transculturation, in the context of contemporary short fiction by ethnic minority Canadian writers.


Contemporary social trends and directions in academic research are also represented by a Romanian scholar, Cristina-Georgiana Voicu, who addresses terms related to transculturation such as ‘hybridity', ‘identity', ‘alterity', ‘migration', ‘diaspora' in her essay entitled "Embodying the Boundary and The Gendered Motif of Existential Liminality in the (Alter)native Canadian Discourse" that explores transgression concepts in the context of two Asian Canadian texts, i.e. Joy Kogawa's Obasan and Sky Lee's Disappearing Moon Café. This Millennial perspective on the already extensively discussed notion of Canadiannness calls for a reconsideration of national identity that could include the possible implications of the term racialized minority peoples.


Judit Ágnes Kádár also focuses on luminal identities, however, her interest is the Indian wannabe/impostor Archibald Belaney/Grey Owl, hero of early 20th Century Canadian environmentalism, and anti-hero of the partly Ojibway Canadian writer Armand Ruffo's Grey Owl: The Mystery of Archibald Belaney. This paper focuses on Belaney's cross-cultural (trans-ethnic) transformation, its motivations, the alter ego he developed, the liminality of his fictional character as well as its power and implications in the view of the episteme and race relations of his age (epistemological trickster and racialization). Besides, Ruffo's poetic experimentation with masking and narrative unmasking is discussed, attempting to answer who needs the myths of Indianness, too. Attention is called to the dynamics of ethnic identity transfer, while an interdisciplinary approach is offered that may effectively facilitate further analyses of fictional heroes of indigenization, immigration, assimilation and correlated processes.


Following the writings of mostly literary interest, an essay related to cultural anthropology invites the reader to a trip in the ethnography of the Inuit of Canada. In his paper entitled "Miniature Carvings in the Canadian Dorset Culture: the Paleo-Eskimo Belief System", László Zsolt Zságer presents the current academic hypotheses related to the origins and the functions of the art of the last Paleo-Eskimo culture of Arctic Canada and Greenland. He calls attention to severalremarkable analogies, while giving a complex picture on Paleo-Eskimo shamanism and the Dorset bear cult.


An artistic and cultural perspective is added through Krisztina Kodó's review of a comprehensive work by Johanne Sloan on Joyce Wieland's film The Far Shore providing insight into ongoing discussion of landscape and art in Canada. The film may rightly be viewed as an "allegory of Canada" (Grace) highlighting the Tom Thomson figure and linking the Canadian landscape and identity image with that of the melodramatic romance.


Finally, Mátyás Bánhegyi and Judit Nagy introduce their Canadian-German-Hungarian Cultural Reader for high school students, a gap-filler which might be a valuable teaching resource for those interested in cultural diversity with special regards to Canada. The paper touches upon the project leading up the preparation of the tri-cultural Reader, describes the Reader and the Teachers' Notes in more detail, and discusses their use and dissemination.


Freeside Europe-Canadiana special issue is also pleased to share with its readers an interesting outline on the establishment and development of the Central European Association for Canadian Studies (CEACS) by János Kenyeres in "Canadian Studies in Central Europe: Past and Present".  The author emphasizes that the study of Canada is a worthwhile activity bringing together scholars and students from the region to form an intellectual and social community in which they can exchange their thoughts and ideas.


The works featuring within this issue offer a transatlantic perspective on the directions Canadian Studies is taking these days, in the hope that a wide circle of academics as well as others interested in Canadian culture might get further encouragement in various activities related to this wonderful country.


ISSN 1786-7967

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