CANADIAN MINORITY LITERATURES – Multiculturalism and the City

Stationary studies,
programme

Instructor / Lecturer: dr Nancy Earle

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At the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, spoken word poet Shane Koyczan delivered a poem entitled We Are More, in which he rejects numerous stereotypes of Canadian culture and declares: “we are an idea in the process /of being realized.” A significant aspect of the “idea” of Canada is a policy of multiculturalism, adopted in the 1970s and officially recognized with the passing of the Multiculturalism Act in 1988.

Nowhere is Canadian ethnic and cultural diversity more obvious than in the major cities, which are home to large (and growing) communities of minority groups. As always, cities are the site of economic, social, and (inter)cultural exchange, and their geographies offer glimpses into the spatial practices of a dynamic society. The course will focus on writers of Vancouver, and will take as its theme “multiculturalism and the city.” While the writers we will study are from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, their works all may be seen to comment on the contemporary cosmopolitan city: its systems of governance, its cultural histories and geographies, and its characteristics as a social space. Some of the other themes explored in these works include: belonging and identity; cultural and personal trauma; and diaspora, transnationalism, and globalization.

REQUIRED TEXTS

Joy Kogawa, Obason
Wayson Choy, The Jade Peony
David Chariandy, Soucouyant
Eden Robinson, Monkey Beach
Larissa Lai, Salt Fish Girl
Rita Wong, Forage
A number of short stories and poems, along with selected secondary readings, are also required and will be provided in a course reader.