Confederate hauntings: the spectral legacy of nationhood in contemporary Newfoundland fiction

Moffatt, Ian (2015) Confederate hauntings: the spectral legacy of nationhood in contemporary Newfoundland fiction. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Casual references to ghosts, hauntings, and specters abound in contemporary Newfoundland writing. Frequently, the Newfoundland nation emerges as a ghost that haunts the post-Confederation moment. Wayne Johnston, in his memoir, Baltimore’s Mansion, considers Newfoundland’s “ghost history” in which “the independents had won the referendum” (241). Paul Chafe, in his important dissertation on Newfoundland fiction, points to a province-wide “longing” for “Newfoundland if only things had turned out differently. This is the narrative that haunts Newfoundlanders” (78). Discussing comments made by crab-fisher Tom Best, Jennifer Delisle, in her literary study The Newfoundland Diaspora, writes that Best puts forward an affect of being “haunted by the loss of nationhood” (20–21). This pattern warrants a more thorough examination of the idea of the spectral as it works in Newfoundland literature. To that end, I use the diverse field of spectral theory—which uses ghosts and hauntings as analytical tools—to examine three important works of post-Confederation Newfoundland fiction: Wayne Johnston’s The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (1998), Michael Crummey’s Galore (2009), and Paul Bowdring’s The Strangers’ Gallery (2013). All of these novels use the idea of the spectral to convey Newfoundland’s historical, geographic, and social complexity. In The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, the spectral works to bolster nationalist narratives of Newfoundland that are defeatist, exclusionary, and oppositional. Alternatively, Galore and The Strangers’ Gallery use the spectral as a means of challenging the rhetoric of Newfoundland nationalism.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 9736
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 82-87).
Keywords: Newfoundland Fiction, Spectrality, Nationhood, Michael Crummey, Wayne Johnston, Paul Bowdring
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: May 2015
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: English fiction--20th century--History and criticism; Nationalism and literature--Newfoundland and Labrador--History--20th century; Ghosts in literature; Haunted houses in literature

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