Quebec Studies

Editor's Note

Quebec Studies (1997), 23, (1), 1–2.


1 Editor's Note Volume 23 begins with an interdisciplinary dossier on "new ways of seeing and been seen in Quebec." Each of the essays asks us to reconsider certain re­ ceived truths about the ways in which several of the key actors in the culture of contemporary Quebec represent themselves to each other, and each other to them­ selves; and each adopts methodologies and critical perspectives that will certainly be suggestive for scholars working in related fields. Leslie S. Laczko's essay on how francophones and anglophones in Canada have altered their respective assess­ ments of the situation of First Nations peoples offers striking statistical confirma­ tion of the 'sea change' of the early 1990s, when the collapse of the Meech Lake accords and the failure, two years later, of the Charlottetown accords framed the events at Oka and on the south shore opposite Montreal. Changing alliances and sympathies, Laczko suggests, have at least as much to do with how Quebec and English Canada feel about each other as with any new interactions between them and First Nations peoples. Laczko's suggestion that an "economy of antipathies" may be at play here will remind literary scholars of the dynamics of proximity and aversion in Girard's theories of "triangulation." Greg Elmer and Bram Abramson draw upon cultural studies approaches to interrogate a wide range of historical and contemporary writing in Quebec that addresses the unstable con­ tents of Québécois. Their essay intervenes into a debate still overwhelmingly struc­ tured and limited by the splitting of nationalism in Quebec into two discrete, mutually opposed categories of the ethnic and the civic. Normally, contemporary analysis identifies the former with an earlier historical period marked by social homogeneity, while the latter is presented as the desirable, inclusive successor to it, and upon which no decent pluralist would cast aspersions. Elmer and Abramson argue for the necessity of reintegrating the ethnic as a category of analysis; only when the category of ethnicity is "excavated," rather than repressed (in an al­ most psychoanalytic sense), will it be possible to openly confront the issues of citizenship and difference that are so crucial to advanced forms of democracy. André Lamontagne's essay examines Comment faire l'amour avec un Nègre sans se fatiguer, the controversial novel by one of the most provocative and prolific of néo-Québécois writers, Dany Laferrière. Laferrière's wry work is a fitting occasion for examining commonly-held assumptions about "what immigrants want," not to mention the diverse constructions of race and nationality by "host" and immi­ grant alike. Lamontagne's discussion of the use of stereotypes by Laferrière pro­ vides a corrective reading of a discourse that too often presents immigrants as a "problem" calling out for "solutions" that, benign or otherwise, remove from them all agency. Finally, Jane Koustas' survey of how Quebec literature becomes available in translation in English Canada allows us to understand much more profoundly the ideological and institutional implications of various translation strategies and arrangements. Koustas raises issues of canon formation particular to a corpus that, in English Canada, is paradoxically "other" but not foreign. In so doing, she reveals how troubled the teaching and criticism of Quebec litera­ ture must be in the rest of Canada. The two "literary forays" of our second dossier by Ginette Adamson and Paul Raymond Côté offer sophisticated and resonant readings of works by Madeleine Monette and Gerald Tougas, respectively. The texts under analysis share at once "self-generative" and intertextual properties that assume astute readers shaped by

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