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False truths : misused reductionist handles examined through Canadian literature Sun, Kevin


In Eurocentric culture, misused reductionist handles are manifestations of reductionism’s mutation from a specialized tool to examine limited aspects of the world into a worldview of its own, a fragmented epistemology “predicated on the discovery of a true world of realities lying behind a veil of appearances” (Latour 474-475). As someone whose naïve belief in the Eurocentric concept of Truth was challenged by exposure to Indigenous ways of knowing, I examine in this thesis the consequences of this misuse of reductionist handles by contrasting Eurocentric Canadian with Indigenous Canadian literature. In “Royal Beatings,” Alice Munro depicts how theatricality, a reductionist handle, is internalized by characters who thereby reduce themselves to culturally created roles; in “Miles City, Montana,” she depicts how idealism, another reductionist handle, is internalized by characters who then face irreconcilable contradictions in reality. On the other hand, the Nuu-chah-nulth origin story “How Son of Raven Captured the Day,” presented in E. Richard Atleo’s Tsawalk, uses theatricality as a holistic rather than reductionist tool that emphasizes the importance of maintaining respect for all. Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water also portrays the conflict between Eurocentric and Indigenous epistemologies through its emphasis on contextualization and use of water as a powerful holistic symbol, thus clarifying water’s rebellion against reductionism in “Miles City, Montana.” The concept of misused reductionist handles is useful for future research on reductionism’s epistemological influence, which can be guided by examining not only the differences between the Eurocentric worldview and other worldviews, but their intersections as well.

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