Quebec Studies

Editor's Note

Quebec Studies (2000), 29, (1), 1–2.

Abstract

1 Editor's Note I am very pleased to open this first issue of Québec Studies under my editorship with a quartet of articles based on a major survey of public opinion on Americanization and américanité. The latter concept has gained considerable currency in critical exchanges about contemporary Quebec culture, and the possibility of grounding this discussion in empirical research will be welcomed by those observers who remain somewhat skeptical about the usefulness of what may seem to be a speculative distinction between Americanization (bad!) and américanité (good!). Old wine in new bottles, or a major shift in popular attitudes? The dossier organized by Donald Cuccioletta analyzes from a variety of perspectives the results of the survey undertaken by the "Groupe interdisciplinaire de recherche sur l'américanité." Donald Cuccioletta and Alfred Desbiens first sketch the critical development of the term américanité, then explore how the duality of québécois identity may be gauged from the answers given to the survey questions by respondents from different social, age, and linguistic groups. The same issue is illuminated from another perspective by Léon Bernier (with Guy Bédard). By including detailed data tables, the authors allow readers to see how the questions were formulated, and how the responses break down by category, thus providing a valuable basis for further interpretation by others in addition to their own careful analysis. Looking at the other side of the question—the specter of an Americanization that would lead to the dissolution of Quebec identity—James Csipak and Lise Héroux show a remarkable evolution of attitudes among betteroff and better-educated people on this point. Confirming their original support for free trade with the United States, these groups see no real difficulty in reconciling economic liberalism with the assertion of a distinct cultural identity. Finally, Frédéric Lesemann introduces a note of caution into the debate by showing that for Quebecers, a strong welfare state remains a key element in their vision of "American"-style prosperity. This investigation into public attitudes should stimulate further research on this important issue, and we invite others to contribute to the discussion. Meanwhile, this fruitful collaboration among scholars working on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border is an event to be saluted and, it is hoped, emulated by scholars working across the field of Quebec studies. The second part of Volume 29 offers a series of readings of what might be called the structures of fiction—the constructs that shape the development of narratives and the communication of their themes. The essays cover a broad chronological range, from Louis Hémon's Maria Chapdelaine at the beginning of the century to very recent story collections by Monique Bosco and Hélène Rioux. Constantina Mitchell opens the series with an original perspective on the use of Greek mythological structures in Hémon's work. By appealing to this fundamental element of Western culture, Hémon is able to bridge the gap between his New World setting and his European readers, as well as make credible the persistence in French Canada of a way of life that had been overtaken by history elsewhere. Jean-Pierre Boucher draws our attention to a neglected "nouvellerecueil" or miniature set of linked stories-within-a-story by Albert Laberge, "Lorsque revient le printemps." The complex structure of echoes linking the various episodes gives some variety to the depressing monotony of the scenes depicted by this most pessimistic yet persevering of early Quebec writers.

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Coleman, Patrick