Quebec Studies

Editor's Note

Quebec Studies (1998), 26, (1), 1–2.

Abstract

1 Editor's Note E n g l i s h - l a n g u a g e w r i t i n g in Q u e b e c h a s b e c o m e a m u c h d i s c u s s e d a n d d e b a t e d topic o v e r the p a s t s e v e r a l y e a r s , b u t the d o s s i e r c o m p i l e d a n d e d i t e d b y L i a n n e M o y e s for this v o l u m e of Quebec Studies s u g g e s t s n o t h i n g less t h a n a p a r a d i g m a t i c shift in h o w the a t t e n d a n t issues a r e to b e c o n s i d e r e d . Specifically, the shift f r o m r e g a r d i n g this w r i t i n g a s the literature of a m i n o r i t y t o constituting the practice of a minor literature r e m i n d s us o n c e a g a i n t h a t the w o r k of c u l t u r e c a n n o t b e s i m p l y to reflect the social, b u t r a t h e r to situate itself a h e a d , o r a l o n g s i d e it in a m o d e that is critical of the v e r y social positivity f r o m w h i c h it s u p p o s e d l y d e r i v e s . It is true that the shift in self-rep­ r e s e n t a t i o n b y Q u e b e c ' s a n g l o p h o n e c o m m u n i t y f r o m b e i n g p a r t of a p a n - C a n a d i a n , a n d e v e n N o r t h A m e r i c a n , linguistic m a j o r i t y to that of a "historic" o r e t h n i c m i n o r ­ ity w i t h i n Q u e b e c w a s itself m o m e n t o u s , a n d it m i g h t h a v e been t e m p t i n g t o a s s u m e that E n g l i s h - l a n g u a g e w r i t i n g in Q u e b e c w o u l d h a v e c o n t e n t e d itself w i t h ing represent­ this n e w m i n o r i t y c o n s c i o u s n e s s . Yet the political f o r m s a s s u m e d b y this c o n ­ s c i o u s n e s s h a v e b e e n left m i l e s (or k i l o m e t e r s ) behind b y the w o r k of w r i t e r s w h o r e g a r d English a s (dia)critically m a r k e d b y its e n g a g e m e n t w i t h a s i n g u l a r Q u e b e c reality, a n d w h o s e p r o d u c t i o n e n a c t s in p r a c t i c e a p l a c e for la culture anglaise that is n e i t h e r d e f e n s i v e n o r nostalgic. Quebec Studies d'expression is h o n o r e d to p r e s e n t the v i e w s of s u c h a d i s t i n g u i s h e d g r o u p of w r i t e r s o n w h a t L i a n n e M o y e s h a s t e r m e d a s e a r c h for "an i n n o v a t i v e a n d ethical p r a c t i c e of English in Q u e b e c . " The o t h e r six articles in this v o l u m e of the j o u r n a l a r e all c o n c e r n e d w i t h the w a y s in w h i c h n e w critical a p p r o a c h e s , including postcolonial studies, g e n d e r s t u d ­ ies, q u e e r studies, a n d c u l t u r a l studies m a y assist us in c o n f r o n t i n g a s p e c t s of cul­ tural p r o d u c t i o n that until n o w h a v e e l u d e d n e a t c o m p a r t i m e n t a l i z a t i o n into the t o p ­ ical c a t e g o r i e s t h r o u g h w h i c h Q u e b e c c u l t u r e is c o n v e n t i o n a l l y u n d e r s t o o d . C a r l a Z e c h e r subjects h e r solid historical r e s e a r c h to the s c r u t i n y of postcolonial criti­ c i s m , — p a r t i c u l a r l y H o m i B h a b b a ' s n o t i o n of internal l i m i n a l i t y — a n d to the c o n c e p t of heterotopia as developed b y Michel F o u c a u l t a n d a c h i e v e s a m o r e critical, d y n a m i c a p p r e c i a t i o n of the U r s u l i n e M a r i e d e l'Incarnation than h a s been h i t h e r t o been the case. In p a r t i c u l a r , Z e c h e r u s e s these critical tools to m o v e b e y o n d a m e r e l y d i s c u r s i v e a p p r e c i a t i o n of M a r i e ' s letters a n d m e m o i r s in o r d e r to insist u p o n their p e r f o r m a t i v e role in initiating an increasingly important demarcation between F r e n c h " m e t r o p o l i t a n s " a n d C a n a d i a n settlers. W i t h this e m p h a s i s o n p e r f o r m a t i v i t y , Z e c h e r is also able to fruitfully a d d r e s s the p a r a d o x i c a l s t a t u s of M a r i e ' s w r t i t i n g s , w h e r e i n the "public" n a t u r e of m e m o i r s a n d the " p r i v a t e " n a t u r e of letters a p p e a r to be inverted. G e n e r i c confusion is a l s o the subject of Isabelle Boisclair's e s s a y o n C l a i r e M a r t i n , a w r i t e r w h o h a s r e c e i v e d relatively little critical attention. Boisclair attrib­ u t e s this lack of attention not o n l y to M a r t i n ' s i d i o s y n c r a t i c (by the s t a n d a r d s of the period) views on relations between l i t e r a t u r e a n d politics during the Quiet R e v o l u t i o n — v i e w s that r e n d e r e d h e r u n a p p e a l i n g to the h e g e m o n i c criticism of the t i m e — b u t m o r e significantly to the w a y s in w h i c h M a r t i n ' s deliberate c o n f u s i o n of g e n r e s ( a u t o b i o g r a p h y a n d fiction) a n d g e n d e r s (both r e n d e r e d b y genre in F r e n c h ) in c h a r a c t e r s w h o s e e m to e m b o d y traits c o n v e n t i o n a l l y t h o u g h t to b e "foreign to their s e x " r e m a i n e d critically illegible at the t i m e they w e r e p r o d u c e d . If, a c c o r d i n g to Boisclair, M a r t i n m a y b e s e e n a s a p r e c u r s o r to feminist writing, h e r literary strate­ gies also m a k e h e r o n e to p o s t m o d e r n i s t criticism. O n l y n o w , w i t h s u c h a p p r o a c h e s

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Schwartzwald, Robert