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The Newfoundland Diaspora

Mapping the Literature of Out-Migration

By Jennifer Bowering Delisle
Subjects Literary Criticism, Cultural Studies, Canadian Literature, Political Science, Globalization
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Paperback : 9781554588947, 220 pages, March 2013
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554588961, 220 pages, June 2013
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554588954, 220 pages, June 2013

Table of contents

Table of Contents for The Newfoundland Diaspora: Mapping the Literature of Out-Migration, by Jennifer Delisle
Introduction: Mapping the Literature of Out-Migration
Part One: Defining the Newfoundland Diaspora
1 Newfoundland and the Concept of Diaspora
Part Two: Affective Responses
2 Donna Morrissey and the Search for Prairie Gold
3 “The ‘Going Home Again’ Complaint”: Carl Leggo and Nostalgia for Newfoundland
Part Three: Is the Newfoundlander “Authentic” in the Diaspora?
4 E.J. Pratt and the Gateway to Canada
5 “A Papier Mâché Rock”: Wayne Johnston and Rejecting Regionalism
Part Four: Imagining the Newfoundland Nation
6 “This Is Their Country Now”: David French, Confederation, and the Imagined Community
7 Writing the “Old Lost Land”: Johnston Part Two
Part Five: Postmodern Ethnicity and Memoirs from Away
8 Helen Buss / Margaret Clarke and the Negotiation of Identity
9 The “Holdin’ Ground”: David Macfarlane and the Second Generation
Conclusion: Writing in Diaspora Space
Works Cited


Out-migration, driven by high unemployment and a floundering economy, has been a defining aspect of Newfoundland society for well over a century, and it reached new heights with the cod moratorium in 1992. This Newfoundland “diaspora” has had a profound impact on the province’s literature.
Many writers and scholars have referred to Newfoundland out-migration as a diaspora, but few have examined the theoretical implications of applying this contested term to a predominantly inter-provincial movement of mainly white, economically motivated migrants. The Newfoundland Diaspora argues that “diaspora” helpfully references the painful displacement of a group whose members continue to identify with each other and with the “homeland.” It examines important literary works of the Newfoundland diaspora, including the poetry of E.J. Pratt, the drama of David French, the fiction of Donna Morrissey and Wayne Johnston, and the memoirs of David Macfarlane. These works are the sites of a broad inquiry into the theoretical flashpoints of affect, diasporic authenticity, nationalism, race, and ethnicity.
The literature of the Newfoundland diaspora both contributes to and responds to critical movements in Canadian literature and culture, querying the place of regional, national, and ethnic affiliations in a literature drawn along the borders of the nation-state. This diaspora plays a part in defining Canada even as it looks beyond the borders of Canada as a literary community.


“Canada is what social critic Avtar Brah would call a ‘diaspora space’—a region filled with transnational groups—and Delisle’s book, with an excellent biography, is a brilliant precedent for studying other diasporic communities. Summing up: Highly recommended.

- B. Almon, University of Alberta, CHOICE

Jennifer Bowering Delisle’s The Newfoundland Diaspora prompts us to revise not just our conceptions of Newfoundland identity but also our understanding of the very idea of diaspora. This is a significant meditation on the shifting nature of regionalism and national identity in the age of globalization, an era of increasing migration, mobility, and deracination. At a time in which the continuous inhabitation of the same place is becoming less and less common, we need more complex and nuanced descriptions of the relationship between place, cultural identity, and collective identification, and that is what The Newfoundland Diaspora delivers.

- Herb Wyile, author of Anne of Tim Hortons: Globalization and the Reshaping of Atlantic-Canadian Literature (WLU Press, 2011)