Few ideas have been more influential in contemporary literary theory over
the last decade than that of "postcolonialism." And yet, while francophone
studies across the United States have been energized by postcolonial theory
in its various forms, there has always been some hesitation about its application to Quebec. Certainly the term has not gained wide currency within
Quebec itself, or in France for that matter. But while in the latter case this
indifference can be dismissed as a typical "metropolitan" gesture-or, by an
ironic twist, as another instance of French suspicion of anglophone imperialism in critical discourse (no matter that the leading postcolonial critics
have hailed from former colonies themselves)-the
lack of response in
Quebec is less easy to explain. Is it because the postcolonial state is linked to
the achievement of independence? But in that case, how is it the term has
been applied to French dipurternents such as Guadeloupe and Martinique?
Perhaps the explanation lies in the opposite direction: is assuming a postcolonial identity a sign of a continuing dependence on former colonial centers that Quebec writers and critics no longer feel, whether or not they
remain committed to separation from Canada? Whatever the case, an awkwardness remains, an intellectual unease that calls out for fresh analysis.
I am grateful to Vincent Desroches for helping Que'bec Studies answer
that call. He has brought together a diverse and talented group of critics.
Some of them are well known to our readers, others represent new voices.
Some contributors address the large theoretical and cultural questions provoked by the notion of postcolonialism; others offer detailed readings of
films and texts of various kinds, ranging from novels and essays to travelers' accounts and journalism. To my knowledge, this is the first collection
of essays devoted to this topic. While Quebec may be included (again, with
some awkwardness) in volumes devoted to Canadian postcolonialism, this
issue of Que'bec Studies offers the first comprehensive discussion of the
extent to which one can speak of Quebec using the terms of postcolonial discourse. We hope it will stimulate a broad debate.
In the spirit of editorial solidarity, I would like also to mention two
remarkable Quebec literary magazines that may not be familiar to many of
our readers. One is a newcomer: Contre-lour, which publishes creative
works along with critical essays, with a special interest in poetry
The other, L'lnconve'nient, has been around longer, but
also offers a fresh mix of creativity and comment
The contributors to both journals include established figures, but the editors
belong to a new generation of Quebec literary intellectuals. Take a look.