Québec's October Crisis – Formalist poetics, formalist politics - NeMLA 2019

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
NeMLA 2019


March 21st-24th, 2019  

Washington D.C.

The 50th Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Convention 

Abstracts due Sept. 30, 2018


Québec's October Crisis – Formalist poetics, formalist politics


50 years ago, the pivotal year 1970 made history in Québec: the October Crisis took place, but also the Nuit de la poésie (Poetry Night), a poetry event where texts like Speak White by Michèle Lalonde were read in front of a packed theatre. During that night, Nicole Brossard, a Québec writer who became known for her feminist writings such as Mauve Desert, read a formalist text from the literary magazine she co-founded, La Barre du Jour. This turn of the decade of the Quiet Revolution saw the birth also a formalist movement in québécois poetry and texts : two publishers/literary magazines, the Éditions du Jour, from the magazine La Barre du Jour, and Les Herbes Rouges, both a publisher and a magazine, published work that were openly political alonside texts from Roger des Roches and Claude Beausoleil which question québécité through the rigorous practice of the text. In opposition to magazines founded during the Quiet Revolution such as Liberté or Parti Pris, the literary enterprises of the Barre du Jour and of Les Herbes Rouges seek to question Québec solely through literature. However, one notices in texts such as Un livre, published by Brossard in 1970, that the events of the era seep into the text, the recurring explosions in Montreal at that time are expressed by a simple “Boum.” This panel seeks to examine how texts published around 1970 redefine formalism by stepping away from an absolute text and by activating a political speech within the limits of the form. The goal will be to establish how the intense political changes of the Quiet Revolution and the subsequent October Crisis influenced the early writing of authors known for their literary engagement, positing the act of writing as political. We will also explore how the formalist text ensures a relay of politics from 1970 to the feminist movement in literature starting in 1975, and spearheaded by Brossard.


This panel invites papers that question the politicisation of formalist texts around La Barre du Jour and Les Herbes Rouges at the turn of 1970s. Guiding questions include: Are the early texts of authors like Brossard, Des Roches and Beausoleil impacted by the political events of the Quiet Revolution and the October Crisis? How are the political aspects of 1970 seen in the writings of the era? How is the germination of Brossard’s feminist writing already at play in her formalist work? In French or English.

Please submit a 300 word abstract in English or French and brief bio directly through the NeMLA panel site by Sunday, September 30, 2018: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/login. Please note that you do NOT need to be a current NeMLA member to submit an abstract. Contact s.yahyaouiracine@gmail.com with any questions.