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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Territorial disputes : maps and mapping strategies in contemporary Canadian and Australian fiction Huggan, Graham


This dissertation represents an attempt to reflect and account for the diversity of maps and mapping strategies in contemporary Canadian and Australian fiction. Its methodology, outlined in the opening chapter, draws on a combination of geographical and literary theory, placing particular emphasis on semiotic and other post-structuralist procedures (reconstructing the map as model; deconstructing the map as structure). The map is first defined as a representational model, as an historical document, and as a geopolitical claim. Its status as model, document or claim brings into play a series of mapping strategies including appropriation, division and marginalization. Attention is paid to the ways in which feminist, regional and ethnic writers have questioned these definitions and resisted or adapted these strategies. Basic principles for a "literary cartography" are thus established deriving from conceptual definitions, social and political implications, and diverse fictional applications of the map. "Grounds for comparison" are then established between English and French writing in Canada, and between the literatures of Canada and Australia, by outlining a brief history of maps and mapping strategies in those areas. Three significant precursors of the contemporary period of literary cartography are discussed: Patrick White, Margaret Atwood, and Hubert Aquin, leading to an overview of patterns and implications of cartographic imagery in contemporary Canadian and Australian fiction from 1975 to the present. The layout for this overview is fourfold: "Maps and Men" discusses the map as a constrictive or coercive device which reinforces the privileges of a patriarchal literary/cultural tradition; "Maps and Myths" examines the map as a mythic paradigm for the revision or transformation of "New World" history; "Maps and Dreams" exposes the map as an oneiric construct allied to the exercise, but also to the potential critique, of colonial authority, and "Maps and Mazes" outlines the map as a self-parodic analogue for the labyrinthine structure and diversionary tactics of the contemporary (post-colonial) literary text. Generalizations inevitably made in this overview are offset by a more detailed analysis, from a comparative perspective, of a number of specific texts. Topics for discussion in this section include the deterritorialization of "cartographic space" in contemporary fictions by women in Canada and Australia, the de/reconstruction of "New World" history in Canadian and Australian historiographic metafiction, and the promulgation of alternative hypotheses of synthesis or hybridity in the spatially and culturally decentralized ("international "/"regional ") text. The dissertation concludes by considering the wider implications of these revisionist "cartographic" procedures for post-colonial literatures and for the future of post-colonial societies/cultures seeking to free themselves from the conceptual legacy of their colonial past.

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