Canadian Literature and the Price of “Progress”
A member-organized panel of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English
Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Ryerson University, Toronto
27-30 May 2017
Much of the language surrounding the Canadian sesquicentennial, like that of Congress’s theme “From Far & Wide: The Next 150,” presumes an accepted though mythical teleology of Canadian national development, one in which Canadians have been delivered to a dynamic present at the threshold of an even brighter future. Just as conventional is this language’s tentativeness: today’s pleasures remain nascent, tomorrow’s will be more difficult to obtain. As we are invited to deliberate on Canada’s achievements of the past 150 years and to keep faith in the strength of its global ranking to face down an always-uncertain future, this panel considers the ways in which persistent cultural anxieties and perceived existential threats have been narrativized in Canadian fiction throughout its history. From where do these texts see Canada’s past iniquities, present insecurities, and future imperilments originating? Does social belatedness signify virtue? How do writers manage the burden of a contested yet shared history? Is globalization represented as the surest guarantee of cosmopolitanism, or as jeopardizing it? If “the past is a foreign country,” as LP Hartley memorably observed, is the future not just as antithetical to national narratives, identities, and borders?
Please send the following by 1 November 2016: A file containing a 300- to 500-word paper proposal, without personal identifying marks; a file containing a 100-word abstract and a 50-word biographical statement; and the 2017 Proposal Info Sheet available on the ACCUTE website.