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Embodying history : the memoirs of Canadian female political trailblazers Reaume, Amanda

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to show how Canadian women’s political memoirs form a subgenre of their own, distinct from Canadian men’s political memoirs and that these memoirs operate according to certain strict narrative conventions because of the limited ways in which women politicians can express themselves and act within male-dominated institutions like parliaments. The distinctive aspects of women’s political memoirs are illustrated by the narrative anecdotes, descriptions, and commentary that are present within their ‘trailblazing narratives’ and the mechanisms through which the subgenre of political memoir functions (i.e. through anecdotes, narrative description, and other narrative strategies). Among the similar anecdotes featured in these narratives are descriptions of the lack of washrooms for female politicians, identification with other women politicians through the creation of a genealogical narrative of women in politics, and struggles to be heard and respected as female politicians. This study focuses on Canadian women’s political memoirs from the 1980s to the present and includes analysis of Being Brown: A Very Public Life (1989) by Rosemary Brown, Time and Chance (1996) by Kim Campbell, Trade Secrets (2000) by Pat Camey, Worth Fighting For (2004) and Nobody’s Baby ( 1986) by Sheila Copps, Never Retreat, Never Explain, Never Apologize (2004) by Deborah Gray, A Woman’s Place (1992) by Audrey McLaughlin and No Laughing Matter (2008) by Margaret Mitchell.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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