Dialogic regional voices : a study of selected contemporary Atlantic-Canadian fiction

Balsom, Edwin James (1998) Dialogic regional voices : a study of selected contemporary Atlantic-Canadian fiction. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This study examines several contemporary Atlantic-Canadian novels, including Various Persons named Kevin O'Brien, by Alden Nowlan, Middlewatch and Penumbra, by Susan Kerslake, Lives of Short Duration and others, by David Adams Richards, and The Afterlife of George Cartwright, by John Steffler. Based on the cultural and political theories of Mikhail M. Bakhtin, Ernesto Laclau and Chantai Mouffe, Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, and others, it suggests that these novels employ a dialogic paradigm of relations to counter monologic paradigms that underrate Atlantic Canada and its cultures. As dialogic regional voices, they go further than those of writers such as Thomas Raddall, Charles Bruce, and Ernest Buckler to depict the interaction of conflicting ideological voices. One of their central features is a critique of oppressive hierarchies, especially those associated with national culturalism and exploitative capitalism, whose classificatory schemes misrepresent Atlantic Canada and its literature. -- Read as counterdiscourses, the novels of Nowlan, Kerslake, Richards, Steffler, and others subvert these hierarchies and argue for a regional hermeneutic that focuses on diversity, plurality, and egalitarianism. To do so, they represent conflicting multiple ideological voices to show how no one position can accurately represent another; they oppose nationalist systems based on Unitarian principles, especially those that attempt to homogenize Canada's regional cultures; and they see the natural world as an ecosystemic environment conducive to dialogic human relationships. -- In these novels, the regional ethos is no longer parochially limited; it becomes the site of political antagonisms and universal themes usually associated with national literatures. Through their characters, these novels articulate a new subject position for Atlantic Canada that debunks ultra-regionalist and nationalist stereotypes. Characters are depicted primarily as human beings in opposition to other roles and positions constructed for them by demeaning political or capitalist systems. When read through this alternative hermeneutic, Atlantic Canada and its literature are less subjected to extraneous evaluative schema and can be reassessed according to criteria established within both their own and other cultural and political horizons.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9135
Item ID: 9135
Additional Information: Bibliography: pages 314-330.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1998
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Atlantic Provinces
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Nowlan, Alden--Criticism and interpretation; Kerslake, Susan--Criticism and interpretation; Richards, David Adams--Criticism and interpretation; Steffler, John, 1947- --Criticism and interpretation; Canadian fiction--Atlantic Provinces--History and criticism; Dialogue in literature; Regionalism in literature

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