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Transnational Canadas

Anglo-Canadian Literature and Globalization

By Kit Dobson
Subjects Literary Criticism, Political Science, Globalization, Canadian Literature, Social Science, Multiculturalism
Series TransCanada Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554580637, 258 pages, August 2009
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554586684, 258 pages, April 2011
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554581658, 258 pages, August 2009

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Transnational Canadas: Anglo-Canadian Literature and Globalization by Kit Dobson
Introduction: Globalization and Canadian Literature
PART ONE: Reconstructing the Politics of Canadian Nationalism
Introduction to Part One
Chapter One: Spectres of Derrida and Theory’s Legacy
Chapter Two: Ambiguous Resistance in Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing
Chapter Three: Nationalism and the Void in Dennis Lee’s Civil Elegies
Chapter Four: Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Losers and the Crisis of Canadian Modernity
Conclusion to Part One
PART TWO: Indigeneity and the Rise of Canadian Multiculturalism
Introduction to Part Two
Chapter Five: Critique of Spivakian Reason and Canadian Postcolonialisms
Chapter Six: Multiculturalism and Reconciliation in Joy Kogawa’s Obasan
Chapter Seven: Multicultural Postmodernities in Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion
Chapter Eight: Dismissing Canada in Jeannette Armstrong’s Slash
Conclusion to Part Two
PART THREE: Canada in the World
Introduction to Part Three
Chapter Nine: Transnational Multitudes
Chapter Ten: Mainstreaming Multiculturalism? The Giller Prize
Chapter Eleven: Global Subjectivities in Roy Miki’s Surrender
Chapter Twelve: Writing Past Belonging in Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For
Conclusion to Part Three
Conclusion: Transnational Canadas


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Arguing first that the dichotomy of Canadian nationalism and globalization is no longer valid in today’s economic climate, Transnational Canadas explores the legacy of leftist nationalism in Canadian literature.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.


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, April 2010, 2010 April

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

- Jon Kertzer, University of Toronto Quarterly, Volume 81, number 3, Summer 2012, 2012 November

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, 23.2, 2010 December