Quebec Studies

Editor's Note

Quebec Studies (1998), 25, (1), 1–2.


1 Editor's Note The twenty-fifth volume of QUEBEC STUDIES begins with a dossier on two per­ forming arts that have received scant attention in our pages up until now: the Quebec téléroman and the monologue. Gisèle Tchoungui's affectionate reading of the television serial in Quebec identifies humor as the site of its specificity in relation to a genre that has proven both popular and durable the world over. The generous and gentle humor of the téléroman bathes its audience in a warm glow of complicity that has much to do with the success of the genre in Quebec, itself a remarkable example of the ways in which smaller cultures are in fact able to resist the seemingly overwhelming presence of American cultural products. In her case study of Marc Favreau, Birgit Mertz-Baumgartner demonstrates how his clown character SOL also depends on a profound complicity with his Que­ bec audience in order to tell tales set in a fairy kingdom resonant with uncanny echoes of Quebec's own political and cultural history, not to mention its actualités] Quebec's apparent devotion to humor, from the Festival Juste pour Rire to the Musée du rire, often provokes a profound ambivalence among Quebec cultural critics, suspicious as they are that this penchant points to some ontological de­ ficiency in their culture; our two contributors provide convincing arguments for why, au contraire, laughing matters. In our second dossier, Reprises, the historically crucial triangulation of Church, State, and belonging in Quebec is re-examined through contrasting studies that deal with distinct periods and manifestations of this relationship. Jean-Guy Hudon's account of the reception of a story by nineteenth-century writer Eugène L'Ecuyer not only confirms the extent to which writing was reduced to prescriptively reinforcing an increasingly hegemonic idéologie de conservation, but also how even liberal nationalism at this time expected writers to stay their critical pen in the interests of leaving an idealized representation of the peuple untar­ nished. If it is no surprise that the Church remained unconvinced by L'Ecuyer's claim to be denouncing not religion itself, but only those tartuffes who used it to their unscrupulous advantage, it may well surprise that liberals, too, reproved L'Ecuyer for these same "negative" representations. What both camps seemed to agree upon, then, was the superfluousness of any real autonomy for literary discourse at the time. Lucie Joubert's study of irony in literary work by Quebec women writers in the 1960s and 70s demonstrates how this work both partook of, and surpassed the anticlericalism that marked the Quiet Revolution. If in the 1960s women's irony targetted the foibles and hypocrisies of the clergy and religious in particular, in the 1970s the barbs were aimed more daringly at Chris­ tian doctrine itself, and especially those aspects of doctrine that were held to devalue women's autonomy and sexuality. In an interesting counterpoint to both Hudon and Joubert, Mark Paul Richard's study demonstrates how, from the other side of the proverbial mirror, what looked like clericalist hegemony in nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Quebec became the precondi­ tion for French-Canadian immigrants forming strong institutions and structures of mutual aid in New England. Richard's study takes us back to an epoch when the State itself was not heavily invested in the providing of social welfare and thus, ironically, in touch with our own epoch of "austerity" and State divest-

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