Narratives of Nation

Oct 27, 2018 | 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM | Loft 2

Sarah Roger, PhD   McMaster University

#CanadaReads: The Online Language of Mass Reading Events and Narratives of Nation

Since 2002, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has been hosting Canada Reads, an annual, star-studded battle to find the book that “all Canadians should read” and that will serve as the “one novel to change our nation”. An online community springs up around the broadcast each year, bringing geographically dispersed Canadians together in virtual spaces to discuss Canada and its literature. These ad hoc, inclusive book clubs, which form on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram, represent a new way of talking about literature in the Canadian public sphere. We have been tracking public engagement with Canada Reads via social media observing the conversations that unfold online. We have identified the points of contact between and the lacunae that separate the ways in which readers, authors, publishers, and scholars discuss literature—and the ways in which these connections and gaps are entrenched by the language of the internet.

In addition to using digital resources as our source material, we are also using them as tools for parsing the language found online. Digital humanities techniques have allowed us to “read” vast quantities of user-generated material, making it possible for us to analyze the conversation in new and revealing ways. We have mapped the discussion of Canada Reads onto the geography and demography of Canada to highlight readers’ localized responses to the broadcast. This paper draws the digital conversation about Canada Reads to assess the language that people use when they talk about literature online. It reveals how interaction online between the listeners, broadcasters, celebrities, and authors who participate in Canada Reads has both narrowed and expanded the concept of a national literature.

David Mongor-Lizarrabengoa, MA   University of Western Ontario

Depictions of Terrorism and ETA in the Historical Basque Novel

Although decades have passed since the Civil War and the end of Franco’s dictatorship, violence persists in Spain. In the case of the Basque Country, many authors born during and after the Franquismo no longer choose to write about the oppression under Franco as another major problem has arisen, that of terrorism mostly committed by the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA). In this paper, I analyze the representation of terrorism and the ETA in two Basque historical novels: Bernardo Atxaga’s Gizona bere bakardadean (The Lone Man) and Ramon Saizarbitoria’s Hamaika pauso (Many Steps). In both novels, two male protagonists involved with the ETA during the Franquismo chose to live civilian lives after democracy was been restored to Spain, but their past connections come back to haunt them as current ETA members involve them in new acts of terrorism. Historically speaking, Basque writers have justified the ETA’s terrorist acts on the basis of oppression by the Spanish government; however, I argue that these are two of the first Basque novels that neither commend nor vilify the ETA. Rather, these novels address the issue of terrorism head-on, a major political issue at the core of the Basque Country. In doing so, terrorism, in these two novels, no longer serves as a nationalist ideal that separates the Basques from the rest of Spain.

Regina Grishko, BA   University of Victoria

Gallomania and Gallophobia in Two Russian Comedies of the 18th century: The Brigadier and The Selection of a Tutor by Denis Fonvizin.

In the second half of the 18th century, under the reign of Catherine II, French culture, literature and language became prestigious in Russia and even became an obsession amongst aristocrats. It later gave rise to criticisms of Gallomania by many Russian writers such as Fonvizin and Griboyedov. I discuss the ideologies concerning the French nation, culture, and language that are expressed in three innovative comedies of the time: The Brigadier (1769) and The Selection of a Tutor (1792) by Fonvizin, and Woe from Wit (1825) by Griboyedov. In these plays, comments on French presence vary greatly, as some praise everything French, while others express their disapproval. For example, in The Brigadier, the main character states: “I confess that I myself would […] like […] a wife with whom I could speak no other language but French. Our life would be much happier” (p. 7). While in Woe from Wit, a Russian character critiques the French presence: “A small Frenchman from Bordeaux […] saw neither Russian sound nor Russian face […] as if he was […] with his friends in the heart of his province. […] He was happy, but us, we were not” (p. 106).

In addition to analyzing the ideologies regarding the French influence, I discuss French-Russian code-switching passages which are very frequent in The Brigadier (Я сыщу occasion favorable увезти тебя в Париж/ I will find a favorable occasion to take you to Paris) (p. 42). Code-switching instances help to comprehend the role of the French language in the Russian society of that era. This study contributes to our understanding of the impact French had on Russian society and also on the language. Today, there are over 2000 French loanwords in Russian.


Sarah Roger, PhD

Dr. Sarah Roger is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. Her current research, funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant, is on the impact that mass reading events, literary prizes, and public intellectuals have on individuals reading habits and collective concepts of identity. Previously, Sarah was a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh and a doctoral student and research fellow at the University of Oxford, where she studied the works of Jorge Luis Borges and Franz Kafka. Amongst her numerous publications including the book Borges and Kafka: Sons and Writers, Oxford University Press, 2017.  ARTICLES Roger, Sarah. “Finding Franz Kafka in the Works of Jorge Luis Borges.” Oxford German Studies 43.2 (2014): 140-155. Roger, Sarah. “A Metamorphosis? Rewriting in Borges’s Translations of Kafka.” Comparative Critical Studies 8.1 (2011): 81-94. BOOK CHAPTERS Roger, Sarah. “Borges and Mathematics.” Borges in Context. Ed. Robin Fiddian. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2019. Roger, Sarah. “Borges and the Gauchesque.” Borges in Context. Ed. Robin Fiddian. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2019. Roger, Sarah and Kim Sasser. “Magical Realism: Latin American Origins, Global Applications?” Latin America in the World. Eds. Antonia García-Rodriguez and Dan Greenberg. New York: Routledge, forthcoming 2018. Roger, Sarah. “Apuntes sobre Jorge Guillermo Borges.” La Senda. By Jorge Guillermo Borges. Trans and ed. Maria Julia Rossi and Dan Balderston. Pittsburgh: Borges Center, 2015.

David Mongor-Lizarrabengoa, MA

David Mongor-Lizarrabengoa is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Ontario. His research primarily deals with representations of trauma and torture in 20th century Latin American literature and film. Other research interests include horror films, Basque literature and linguistics, William Faulkner, Bakhtin, and theories of adaptation. He has taught Spanish and Portuguese language courses at the University of Western Ontario. He has presented papers related to Latin American literature and film at conferences across the United States and Canada at universities such as American University, Tufts University, the University of Pittsburgh, Georgetown University, Ryerson University, Western University, Rutgers University, and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Regina Grishko, BA

Regina Grishko is a first year Master's student in the Department of French in the University of Victoria. Her research focuses on the linguistic and cultural impact of a close contact between France and Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries. Publication: Grishko, R. (2016, March). The French Conquest of Russian Lexical Territories: A Study of French Loanwords in Russian. Poster session presented at Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards, Victoria, BC.