English - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Kwaskastahsowin (“Put things to right”): Case studies in twentieth-century Indigenous women’s writing, editing, and publishing in Canada

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-04-14
Abstract: 

In the updated and restored 2019 edition of Halfbreed, Métis writer Maria Campbell introduces the Cree word, kwaskastahsowin, to describe what it means to seek conciliation or to “put things to right.” By focusing on what it means to “put things to right” in the context of twentieth-century publishing in Canada, this dissertation considers the ways that Indigenous women writers working within the Canadian publishing industry have been negatively impacted by intersecting issues of colonialism, race, and gender. My project explores Campbell’s definition of kwaskastahsowin in relation to two key twentieth-century works of Indigenous women’s writing in Canada: E. Pauline Johnson’s Legends of Vancouver (1911) and Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed (1973). Using a decolonial case-study approach that combines archival/digital methods with Indigenous editorial principles and protocols, my project focuses on the literary and storytelling contributions of three Indigenous women authors – E. Pauline Johnson (Mohawk), Mary Agnes Capilano (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh), and Maria Campbell (Métis) – and situates their authorial contributions and publishing experiences within the larger context of twentieth-century Canadian publishing. My project uses archival research to interrogate the publishing contexts and histories of these texts, and reveals the extent to which colonial issues of voice and editorial intervention have shaped the published works. Furthermore, by approaching the various editions of these two texts with a focus on their shifting “paratexts” (Genette) or critical frameworks over time, I draw attention to the lasting impacts of such editorial interventions (as evidenced by the two excised and recently-recovered pages from Campbell’s Halfbreed, detailing her sexual assault by members of the RCMP, and through evidence of Johnson’s preferred title for the Legends of Vancouver collection). My examination of the publishing histories of these two key Indigenous texts reveals the urgency with which other works of twentieth-century Indigenous literature must be re-examined, and simultaneously calls for a necessary reenvisioning of the Indigenous literary paratext – one that takes into account Indigenous editorial principles and protocols.

Document type: 
Thesis
Supervisor(s): 
Sophie McCall
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Prairie and paratext: Contesting voices in early twentieth-century Canadian literary production

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-10-30
Abstract: 

In “Black w/Holes” M. Nourbese Philip comments upon the psychic border that “prohibits or limits” the entry of racialized bodies into what she refers to as “wilderness spaces.” By focusing on literary constructions of the Canadian prairie, this project identifies early twentieth-century Canadian literary production as a site of contestation, where such psychological barriers were either upheld or challenged by writers, critics, and publishers. While twentieth-century critics consecrated the work of white prairie writers (Frederick Philip Grove, Martha Ostenso, Laura Salverson, and Robert Stead) this project seeks to re-centre the textual work of two mixed-race writers who resided in Calgary in the 1920s: Winnifred Eaton (Chinese and English) and Buffalo Child Long Lance (Lumbee and Cherokee). Remembered by subsequent critics as “racial imposters,” Eaton and Long Lance adopted alternate literary personae (as the Japanese writer Onoto Watanna and as a Kainai chief, respectively) as a way of interrogating legal and social categories of racial and Indigenous difference. This project shows how their prairie-centric writings reveal and reflect their conflicted subjectivities, thus calling into question colonial epistemologies. In addition, by examining the paratextual apparatuses surrounding Eaton and Long Lance’s textual interventions (book design, prefatory materials, critical reviews), this project amplifies this moment’s tenor of tension and dissent, when conflicted voices existed in tense relation with the colonizing aims of white settler publishers, editors, and critics. By reading Eaton and Long Lance in confluence with each other and in conjunction with two other under-examined writers of the early twentieth-century period (Anahareo, Christine van der Mark), this project raises the following questions: what literary linkages have been neglected by critics and what do these linkages reveal? How do Eaton and Long Lance’s works illuminate new ways of conceiving human movements and interactions, beyond the limiting language of nationhood?

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Carole Gerson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

NISHGA

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-03-08
Abstract: 

NISHGA is a deeply personal and autobiographical book that attempts to address the complications of contemporary Indigenous existence. As a Nisga’a writer, I often find myself in a position where I am asked to explain my relationship to Nisga’a language, Nisga’a community, and Nisga’a cultural knowledge. However, as an intergenerational survivor of residential school—both my grandparents attended the same residential school in Chilliwack, British Columbia—my relationship to Indigenous identity is complicated to say the least. NISHGA explores those complications and is invested in understanding how the colonial violence originating at the Coqualeetza Indian Residential School impacted my grandparent’s generation, my father’s generation, and ultimately my own generation. The project is rooted in a desire to illuminate the realities of intergenerational survivors of residential school, but sheds light on Indigenous experiences that may not seem to be immediately (or inherently) Indigenous. Drawing on autobiography, a series of interconnected documents (including pieces of memoir, transcriptions of talks, and photography), NISHGA is a book about confronting difficult truths. NISHGA is also about how both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples engage with a history of colonial violence that is quite often rendered invisible.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Stephen Collis
Sophie McCall
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Tales of the tape: The ontological, discursive, and ethical lives of literary audio artifacts

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-06-20
Abstract: 

Tales of the Tape: The Ontological, Discursive, and Ethical Lives of Literary Audio Artifacts argues for the importance of listening as a theoretical and methodological practice in the study of literature. In addition to forms of listening that direct themselves toward a literary work’s aesthetic qualities in performance, this text also listens to and for the social subtext of literary production. Drawing on audio artifacts from a diverse range of production scenarios—home recordings, literary performances, sound-based poetry, and oral history interviews—Tales of the Tape demonstrates how listening remaps literary histories differently than those that focus on print-based production. For one, audio recordings make audible the significant amount of labour that goes into building and maintaining communities as sites of cultural production. This labour is affective and immaterial in nature and is unevenly distributed along gendered lines. For these reasons, it has been overlooked traditional forms of literary history. Audio recordings, especially those that are candid and conversational in nature, make that labour audible so that we can recognize, compensate, and distribute that labour more equitably. Audio recordings can also be mobilized toward a political aesthetic in poetry, as it is in the sounded works of contemporary poets Jordan Abel and Jordan Scott. In these works, recorded sound acts as a layer of mediation that disrupts the normally transparent processes of representation and symbolization. In confronting us with an absent speaker, as well as the distortions, cuts, and alternate temporalizations of recorded sound, these works foreground the twinned structure of lack and excess at the heart of every act of signification. A formal emphasis on lack carries forward to the content of these works, intervening in the symbolic systems of racialization and political subjectivity. Overall this text meditates on the lacking ontology of auditory media, carrying that structure forward in analogous ways to speech, subjectivity, and political reality.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Clint Burnham
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Performance studies, sport, and affect in the twenty-first century

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-04-16
Abstract: 

Richard Schechner, one of the founders of performance studies, urges scholars to expand their conceptualization of performance to include a broad spectrum of framed and/or displayed human behaviours. While this call to action has strongly influenced the interdisciplinary impulse of performance studies and prompted important cross-disciplinary investigations between performance genres such as theatre, dance, performance art, political performance, ritual, and play, sport has remained under-theorized in the field. In this project, I begin to fill this gap by approaching the practices, activities, and events of twenty-first century sport through the lens of performance studies. To do so, I propose a series of critical concepts for analyzing the patterning of behavior and the sequencing of action during sport performances: performance genre, configuration, formation, and complex event. Applying these terms to the analysis of sporting practices, activities, and events, I illustrate how each concept enables a rigorous analysis of the socio-political effects of the patterning of behavior in performance occasions. The first chapter proposes a theory for examining performance genres as recognizable clusters of historically situated activities and events and demonstrates the significance of this conceptualization by analyzing the match-fixing scandal in the women’s pairs’ badminton tournament at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. The second chapter introduces two new concepts for analyzing the patterning of behaviour during sport performances: configuration, which examines the sequencing of interpersonal action, and formation, which attends to the patterning of individual behaviours. I, then, use these terms to analyze the practice of women’s basketball in Canada. The third chapter expands my conceptualization of configuration and formation to examine audience behaviours. More specifically, I trace the genealogy of hockey audience practices in Canada and analyze the men’s gold medal hockey game at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The fourth chapter introduces the term complex event — meaning performance occasions where multiple participant groups enact distinct, overlapping, configurations — and examines injuries in American football from the early twentieth century to the present. The fifth chapter draws these terms together to investigate the genealogy of the butterfly stroke in the twentieth century. Following this, I analyze Refugee Olympic Team member Yusra Mardini and her performance of the 100-metre butterfly at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio. Ultimately, I contend that analyzing sports not only fills a gap in the field of performance studies, it also reveals how sport performances both shape and are shaped by their socio-political contexts.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Peter Dickinson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

What is here now: Assembling poetry in Canada after the Spatial Turn

Date created: 
2018-06-11
Abstract: 

In my dissertation “What is Here Now: Assembling Poetry in Canada after the Spatial Turn,” I examine how an array of twenty-first century poetry responds to and critiques the ways Canada assembles in the present, shaped by processes and logics of dispossession, exclusion, and elimination, amidst global and local circulations of capital and labour. Any spatial reading of Canada must begin with a Canada that is not an essentialized geography, but is instead a set of emergent and assembling relations that constantly needs to be maintained, stabilized, and policed. I argue that we must approach poetry’s relationship to (and relationships in) space by conceptualizing poetry as a part of complex and historically shaped processes that emerge from the ground up, from the ways that actors, human and otherwise, engage one another. Through this assemblage model, I ask three central questions that bridge the difficult material and conceptual leaps between part and whole as they shape one another. First, what are the stakes for individuals and communities as spatial assemblages stabilize and destabilize, as spaces provide (or fail to provide) a stable ground on which to organize? Second, in space as it stabilizes and destabilizes, how do actors engage one another and what concerns, ethical or otherwise, shape those intimate relations? And third, how are individual actors articulated within (or excluded from) the array of relations that compose a space? I answer these three intersecting questions by turning to three major problematics in contemporary Canadian poetry. First, I look at Vancouver poetry about urban redevelopment as it engages with processes of stabilization and destabilization in the work of Wayde Compton, Cecily Nicholson, Lisa Robertson, Mercedes Eng, and Lee Maracle. Second, I look at questions of ethical engagement through ecologically invested poetry (or “ecopoetry”) in the work of Rita Wong, Christian Bök, Stephen Collis, Jordan Scott, Angela Rawlings, Adam Dickinson, and Fred Wah. Third, I look at the processes and codes that articulate potential spatial practices for racialized communities in the work of Roy Miki, Dionne Brand, Phinder Dulai, Erín Moure, Souvankham Thammavongsa, Annharte, and Marvin Francis.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jeff Derksen
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Readers in the margins: Texts, paratexts, and reading audiences in Romantic-era fiction

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-10-19
Abstract: 

Readers in the Margins: Texts, Paratexts, and Reading Audiences in Romantic-era Fiction investigates how the form of the book influenced literary form in the Romantic period—not just how readers read and how publishers marketed, but how pre-existing paratextual norms shaped how writers conceived of and composed their writing. To do so, this project draws on a combination of book history and narratological strategies to explore how the material and historical realities of the Romantic-era book industry shaped fiction during the period. Contextualizing the narrative strategies of authors including Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen, and Frances Burney within the early nineteenth-century material culture of the book reveals how Romantic-era cultural conceptions of genre, audience, and gender are encoded in the physical manifestations of their fiction. This argument builds on three critical discourses in the study of the period’s fiction: discussions of eighteenth-century and Romantic-era paratexts and the book as technology, by Janine Barchas, Christina Lupton, Andrew Piper, and Alex Watson; scholarship that engages with the commercialization of print, historical reading practices, and their relationship to the construction of Romantic-era reading audiences in the popular imagination, by Stephen Colclough, Jan Fergus, Michael Gamer, Jon Klancher, and William St. Clair; and studies of the gendering of audiences, genres, and authors, by Adriana Cracuin, Ina Ferris, and Jacqueline Pearson, among others. Bringing together these disparate strands of criticism demonstrates how the paratext is a necessary context for understanding literary innovation in the Romantic period. The first two chapters explore what kinds of explicit and implicit information paratexts conveyed to readers during the Romantic period and what kinds of implications those had for readers who had to navigate an increasingly overwhelming number of books by looking at title page design and Maria Edgeworth’s use of genre, respectively, while the third and fourth chapters take as case studies two authors, Jane Austen and Frances Burney who make use of their readers’ paratextual expectations to experiment with narrative for political ends.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Michelle Levy
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Homo-heroic love: Male friendship on the Restoration stage

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-11-16
Abstract: 

“Homo-Heroic Love: Male Friendship on the Restoration Stage” asks why, while sodomy and homosexuality were still criminalized, did the London Restoration stage depict men in love? Scholars have resisted reading these male friendships—where men kiss, hug, and declare their constancy to each other—as exhibiting same-sex desire, an approach that overlooks these texts’ importance as historical sites of non-normative sexual expression. In order to combat the denial of same-sex desire within these tragedies, I coin the term “homo-heroic love” to describe male relationships that are physically demonstrative, emotionally intimate, and socially revered. For example, in Nathanial Lee’s The Rival Queens (1677), Hephestion hierarchizes male love above heteronormative affection, transforming homoerotic desire into something that is honourable and revered: “Such is not Womans love, / So fond a friendship, such a sacred flame, / As I must doubt to find in Breasts above.” Combining queer theory and performance studies, I demonstrate how homoeroticism was appropriated as an advantageous tool in reinforcing patriarchal power, and how the promotion of “homo-heroic” love was a response to concerns about Charles II’s newly restored, but unstable, monarchy.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Diana Solomon
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Dispossessed indigeneity: literary excavations of internalized colonialism

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-01
Abstract: 

Dispossessed Indigeneity: Literary Excavations of Internalized Colonialism begins with the premise that 21st century Indigenous political movements focused on returning to our particular nations, languages, and land bases are often not accessible to urban and dispossessed Indigenous people. Further, I contend that urban and dispossessed Indigenous people embody particular subjectivities that contemporary Indigenous theory has not sufficiently recognized, understood, or theorized. To begin to fill this gap, Dispossessed Indigeneity seeks to theorize the subjectivities of Indigenous people who have been dispossessed from our ancestral communities, families, and lands, in order to articulate our political agency and potential contributions to social struggles against colonialism and capitalism. To do so, the following pages present historicized and politicized readings of three Indigenous authors in Canada: Edward Ahenakew (Cree); George Clutesi (Nuu-chah-nulth); and Jeannette Armstrong (Syilx). Through close readings of their texts, I offer Indigenous perspectives on political problems that characterize contemporary working class and urban Indigenous social movements. These problems include interweaving an anti-colonial Indigenous analysis with an anti-capitalist analysis; locating Indigenous politics of recognition and redistribution that do not rely on models of recognition and redistribution controlled by the colonial state; developing a concept of Indigenous historical consciousness as an avenue of politicization; and articulating Indigenous concepts and practices of land and value rooted in noncapitalist ecological knowledges. Woven through the four literary and theoretical chapters are interludes that extend the personal and political reflections of the introduction, showing my own stake in the critical work of the following pages, as well as practicing Indigenous storytelling alongside the authors whose works I consider.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Deanna Reder
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Emulous Fellowship and the Elizabethan Pastoral Eclogue

Date created: 
2017-12-05
Abstract: 

“Emulous Fellowship and the Elizabethan Pastoral Eclogue” re-conceptualizes literary composition according to ideas of competition unique to early modern England. Elizabethan terms of fellowship—including copemate, emulator, and competitor—might connote positive, reciprocal relationships while simultaneously suggesting opposition, antagonism, and envy. This “emulous” language structures much of the dialogue in Elizabethan English eclogues, a verse form modelled after ancient singing shepherds and popularized by Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser. My dissertation starts with the eclogue’s humble beginnings in early modern schoolrooms and finishes with its usage in elegizing Elizabeth I and in praising James I. Hence, the dissertation’s arc, loosely based on the Virgilian literary career (or rota), progresses from youth until death, and from shepherds to princes. As both canonical and lesser-known poets present “composition as competition” modelled after the eclogue’s pseudo-rustic lessons, singing contests, amorous invitations, and funeral rehearsals, they showcase unstable, competitive relationships between shepherds and between shepherd-poets. This dissertation aims to restore the eclogue, long regarded as leisurely pastoral verse associated with poetic neophytes, to its Elizabethan context: a significant literary form through which shepherd-poets, engaging their fellows as copemates, emulators, and competitors, cast poetic composition as exercises in power and hierarchy.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Tiffany Jo Werth
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.