Canadians have always been obsessed with the idea of their own identities. Stories that tell us who we are provide a reassuring sense of identity for the individual and the nation. Hockey. Maple Leaves. Beavers. But collective stories tend to be haunted by a fear that a shared narrative might be nothing more than an elaborate artifice. This fear has long been a source of gothic inspiration for Canadian writers. A haunted Canadian self returns again and again. Polite. Friendly. Not American. With examples of gothic discourse from Canadian fiction, autobiography, film, poetry, and drama, Justin Edwards analyzes the ghost at the heart of the nation. A major contribution to cultural and literary studies, Gothic Canada unearths two centuries of Canadian gothic writings to reveal uncanny traditions of trauma, repression, and monstrosity.
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“The ghost of a Canadian self, whatever that may be, returns to us again and again. This spectre is a sign of instability, insecurity and colonization. It is a sign of the land itself, and the land’s history. It signified the triumph of Canadian nationalism, but it also serves as a prophecy of its failure. For a postcolonial Canada, the destabilization of the nation could lead to some of the most terrifying and threatening ghosts that return to haunt us from the graves of the nationalist plot. The effects of marginalization, segregation, ostracization, and oppression haunt Canada’s history with violent acts that refuse to be hidden.” —from Gothic Canada “Gothic Canada is a dazzling journey into the netherworlds of the Canadian literary and cultural imagination. From the wilderness of John Richardson’s Wacousta, through the haunted houses of Sinclair Ross and F.P. Grove, to the urban gothic of contemporary writers and filmmakers, Edwards’s superbly researched book compels us to confront the ghosts, obsessions, and fears that lie dormant within the imaginative fabric of Canadian identity.” Irene Gammel, Canada Research Chair in Modern Literature and Culture, Ryerson University.About the Author:
Justin D. Edwards is associate professor of English at the University of Copenhagen where he teaches, among other things, Canadian and American gothic literature.
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