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"Transcolonial circuits" : historical fiction and national identities in Ireland, Scotland, and Canada Cabajsky, Andrea

Abstract

'"Transcolonial Circuits': Historical Fiction and National Identities in Ireland, Scotland, and Canada" explores the intersections between gender, canon-formation, and literary genre in order to argue that English- and French-Canadian historical fiction was influenced, both in form and content, by the precedent-setting fictions o f Scotland and Ireland in the early nineteenth century. Conceived in the spirit o f Katie Trumpener's Bardic Nationalism: The Romantic Novel and the British Empire (1997), this dissertation extends Trumpener's examination of nineteenth-century British and Canadian romantic fiction by exploring in greater detail the flow of ideas and literary techniques between Ireland, Scotland, and English and French Canada. It does so in order to revise critical understandings of the formal and thematic origins and development of Canadian historical fiction from the nineteenth century to the present. Chapter One functions as a series of literary snapshots that examine historically the critical and popular reception of novels by Maria Edgeworth and Sydney Owenson in Ireland, Sir Walter Scott in Scotland, John Richardson, William Kirby, and Jean Mcllwraith in English Canada, and Philippe Aubert de Gaspe and Napoleon Bourassa in French Canada. I pay particular attention to the issues o f gender and political ideology as inseparable from the history of the novel itself. In Chapter Two, by focussing on the travel trope, I examine in detail how Irish, Scottish, and Canadian writers transformed the investigative journeys of Samuel Johnson and Arthur Young into journeys of resistance to the dictates of the metropolis. Chapter Three focuses on the complications of marriage as a metaphor o f intercultural union. It pays particular attention to the intersections between gender, sexuality, and colonial identity. The Conclusion extends the concerns raised in the thesis about the relationship between historical writing and national identity to the late-twentieth-century Canadian context, by examining the adaptation of literary and historiographical conventions to the medium of television in the CBC/SRC television series Canada: A People's History, which aired in 2001-02.

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