Resistance in contemporary Newfoundland fiction

Parsons, Jonathan (2017) Resistance in contemporary Newfoundland fiction. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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“Resistance in Contemporary Newfoundland Fiction” focuses on writing by four Newfoundland novelists: Michael Crummey, Wayne Johnston, Lisa Moore, and Edward Riche, in particular the ways in which their novels demonstrate resistance through both content and formal construction. The kinds of resistance expressed in the novels in this study are not militant or obviously revolutionary, and they are not necessarily self-aware of their positioning of resistance or the comment they make on cultures of resistance in Newfoundland. The central argument of this dissertation is that forms of resistance expressed in novelistic writing outline the contours of the culture of resistance in Newfoundland; even as specific novels may express cynical or reactionary views on the efficacy of resistance, they nonetheless represent such resistance as an important part of the broader Newfoundland cultural landscape. This dissertation, then, is a very different kind of study of resistance and novelistic writing from those works of literary criticism focused on writings from or about revolutions and military occupations, in which more immediately recognizable forms of insurrectionary or militant resistance is apparent. Rather, “Resistance in Contemporary Newfoundland Fiction” examines the resistance that simmers just below the surface of everyday life, resistance that is sometimes then expressed as an upsurge of anger or a moment of outrage. Forms of resistance represented in these novels that are ultimately most effective are those grounded in grassroots, anarchistic practice, while forms of resistance embedded in traditional, formal political structures, such as unionism and partisan politics, are ultimately shown to be less effective or ineffective. In each chapter, I focus on specific flashpoints or moments of protest that are central to the texts, such as an act of vigilantism in Crummey’s Galore (2009), an anti-government riot in Johnston’s The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (1998), an armed standoff with government agents in Riche’s Rare Birds (1997), and ecologically-motivated sabotage in Moore’s Alligator (2005). The way each of these novels contextualizes and presents such acts of resistance functions as an entry point for interpretation and critical analysis, directing further close reading of the novels with respect to their own specific content. Some of the broad thematics in these novels that I explore through theories of resistance are capitalism, nationalism, conservatism, and debt.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 12957
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 329-349).
Keywords: resistance, Newfoundland, anarchism, literature, culture, politics, Lisa Moore, Michael Crummey, Wayne Johnston, Edward Riche
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: September 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Michael Crummey 1965-; Johnston, Wayne, 1958-; Lisa Moore 1964-; Edward. Riche; Resistance (Philosophy) -- Fiction; Fiction -- Newfoundland and Labrador -- 20th century.

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