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Transnational Canadas

Anglo-Canadian Literature and Globalization

Kit Dobson

TransCanada Series

Paper 258 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-063-7

Release Date: August 2009

Online discount: 25%

$42.99  $32.24


eBook availability

Transnational Canadas marks the first sustained inquiry into the relationship between globalization and Canadian literature written in English. Tracking developments in the literature and its study from the centennial period to the present, it shows how current work in transnational studies can provide new insights for researchers and students.

Arguing first that the dichotomy of Canadian nationalism and globalization is no longer valid in today’s economic climate, Transnational Canadas explores the legacy of leftist nationalism in Canadian literature. It examines the interventions of multicultural writing in the 1980s and 1990s, investigating the cultural politics of the period and how they increasingly became part of Canada’s state structure. Under globalization, the book concludes, we need to understand new forms of subjectivity and mobility as sites for cultural politics and look beyond received notions of belonging and being.

An original contribution to the study of Canadian literature, Transnational Canadas seeks to invigorate discussion by challenging students and researchers to understand the national and the global simultaneously, to look at the politics of identity beyond the rubric of multiculturalism, and to rethink the slippery notion of the political for the contemporary era.

Kit Dobson is a faculty member in the English Department of Calgary’s Mount Royal College. He studied at the Universities of Victoria, York (UK), and Toronto, and has published in periodicals such as Studies in Canadian Literature, Open Letter, Callaloo, and English Studies in Canada. Transnational Canadas is his first book-length work.


“Dobson moves deftly between textual and contextual analysis: in approaching established, canonical texts, he examines both their canonicity and the form and content of the works themselves; in his study of more recent work, his attention to the implications of such phenomena as the Giller Prize persuasively argues that we must consider Canadian literature within its economic context, given the function of books as ‘cultural commodities that participate in the logic of capital’.”

— Gillian Roberts, University of Notthingham, British Journal of Canadian Studies

Transnational Canadas is the first book-length consideration of transnationalism’s effects on the production of Canadian literature, on critical responses to it and, in a more general sense, on the political and social climate of the country as we consider issues of identity and belonging. As such, the book is significant and welcome. Broad in scale, it is an excellent survey of changing approaches to the idea of a national literature in the last fifty years.... Dobson balances theoretical discussion with readings of key Canadian texts, highlighting the debates these texts have provoked throughout their critical reception.... Throughout, Dobson’s voice is assured, clear and often wryly funny.... Transnational Canadas is both an excellent history of political movements within the Canadian literary and cultural scene, and a foundational text itself, one which will be integral to scholarship going forward.”

— Susanne Marshall, Dalhousie University, The Dalhousie Review

“Kit Dobson likes to dive into cultural theory at the deep end.... Transnational Canadas is sophisticated, engrossing.”

— Jon Kertzer, University of Toronto Quarterly

“Arguing from the premise that ‘writing in Canada has become transnational,’ Dobson (Mount Royal College, Canada) ponders ‘questions of belonging and subjectivity in the world of global capitalism.’ He begins in the 1960s and 1970s with the exclusive, anti-American nationalism of Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing and Survival, Dennis Lee’s Civil Elegies, and the messianically weak proto-postmodernsim of Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Losers. Even more polemically, he reads the multiculturalism of the 1980s event in Joy Kagawa’s Obasan amd Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of the Lion to be problematic, confused, and ultimately co-opted by the dominant state discourse they superficially appear to challenge; Jeanette Armstrong’s Slash, Dobson argues, remains that decade’s most coherent and cogent challenge to the legacy of colonialism. Attempting to construct a ‘transnational theory’ at the intersections of Marxism, deconstruction, postcolonialism, and indigenous thinking in the current decade, Dobson discovers in Roy Miki’s Surrender and Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For writing that successfully articulates ‘new subjectivities’ emerging under transnationalism, although he points out that the awarding of a recent Giller Prize to Vincent Lam’s Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures shows the power and persistence of the market forces that have turned ‘mainstream multiculturalism’ into ‘commodification of difference.’.... Recommended.”

— D.R. McCarthy, Huron University College, CHOICE