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Here is queer : nationalisms and sexualities in contemporary Canadian literatures Dickinson, Peter


This dissertation explores the relationship between the regulatory discourses of nationalism and sexuality as they operate in the cultural production and textual dissemination of contemporary Canadian literatures. Applying recent studies in postcolonial and queer theory to a number of works by gay and lesbian authors written across a broad spectrum of years, political perspectives, and genres, I seek to formulate a critical methodology which allows me to situate these works within the trajectory of Canadian canon-formation from the 1940s to the present. In so doing, I argue that the historical construction of Canadian literature and Canadian literary criticism upon an apparent absence of national identity—us encapsulated most tellingly in the "Where is here?" of Frye's "Conclusion"—masks nothing so much as the presence of a subversive and destabilizing sexual identity—"queer." The dissertation is made up of eight chapters: the first opens with a Sedgwickian survey of the "homosocial" underpinnings of several foundational texts of Canadian literature, before providing an overview—via George Mosse, Benedict Anderson, and Michel Foucault—of the theoretical parameters of the dissertation as a whole. Chapter two focuses on three nationally "ambivalent" and sexually "dissident" fictions by Timothy Findley. A comparative analysis of the homophobic criticism accompanying the sexual/textual travels of Patrick Anderson and Scott Symons serves as the basis of chapter three. Chapter four discusses the allegorical function of homosexuality in the nationalist theatre of Michel Tremblay, Rene-Daniel Dubois, and Michel Marc Bouchard. Chapter five examines how national and sexual borderlines become permeable in the lesbian-feminist translation poetics of Nicole Brossard and Daphne Marlatt. Issues of performativity (the repetition and reception of various acts of identification) are brought to the fore in chapters six and seven, especially as they relate to the (dis)located politics of Dionne Brand, and the (re)imagined communities of Tomson Highway and Beth Brant, respectively. Finally, chapter eight revisits some of the vexed questions of identity raised throughout the dissertation by moving the discussion of nationalisms and sexualities into the classroom.

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