Historians today are reconsidering the grounds on which Quebec history is
discussed as well as the ideological assumptions that have framed traditional
historiography. Likewise, the parameters and tools of historical research on Quebec
culture and society are being reassessed in light of contemporary economic and
The essays in our special focus on "Refiguring History / Rewriting the Past"
reevaluate the history of Quebec from a number of vantage points. John Dickinson
and Brian Young introduce this section with a reexamination of the periodization
of Quebec history, placing their own emphasis on change in economic systems,
social structures, cultural institutions, the legal system, gender relations, and
demography rather than on constitutional developments and political events. In
another overview of research practices, AndrÃ©e LÃ©vesque offers a useful summary of
contemporary feminist historiography, highlighting the primary subjects of inquiry
in recent research on the history of Quebec women.
Several essays in this section reexamine specific periods, places, and
historical figures. In her essay on the autobiographical writings of missionary
women in New France, Chantai ThÃ©ry links letter writing to women's social
adaptability and to their developing sense of cultural belonging in the new colony.
Underscoring the continuing importance of landownership in nineteendvcentury
Quebec, Daniel SalÃ©e argues that the transition to capitalism was not as clear-cut
as earlier historical interpretations have suggested. And in his case study of the
emergent francophone petty bourgeoisie of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Pierre
Anctil characterizes this Franco-American community as having close ties to its
Quebec roots until well into the twentieth century.
New views of history have prompted literary critics to explore the changing
function of history in Quebec literature as well. In their respective essays on
postmodernism and historiographie fiction, Marie Vautier and Jane Moss explore
some of the ways in which history is decentered, reclaimed, and rewritten in
contemporary Quebec fiction. In a similar vein, Lori Saint-Martin returns to the
historical figure of die witch in women's writings of the 1970s in order to rethink
the bases for the witch's power and the cultural implications of her perceived
This issue of QuÃ©bec Studies contains a mini-dossier as well on the quarrel
between the regionalists and the "exotiques." Essays by Annette Hayward, JeanGuy Hudon, and Esther Trepanier situate the grounds of the debate that polarized
the literary and artistic worlds in Quebec in the early years of this century.
Anne Brown's essay addresses the treatment of feminine archetyes in
women's novels of the 1960s, while Katharine Gingrass compares surrealist views
of the unconscious with dream work and gender politics in Kamouraska for a fresh
reading of this contemporary classic. Raising questions of autobiography and
representational structure, Alain-NapolÃ©on Moffat discusses the first feature film of
Claude Jutra. Finally, Robert Whelan concludes this issue with a study of the
redevelopment policies pursued in Montreal since the 1960s.
Due to the reemergence of the debate over Quebec's future political status,
(Quebec Studies will devote the special focus section of volume 13 to this topic.
Volume 14 will include a special section on "Cultural Pluralism in Quebec," and