Writing Québec’s North Shore, Ceri Morgan

18-05-2016 at 3.30pm to 5pm

Location: ATRiuM, Cinema (CA B205)

Audience: Public

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As is well known, Québec’s Quiet Revolution sought to effect a break with the past; rejecting the pan-Canadian cultural nationalism bound up in the preservation of the French language, Catholicism and an attachment to the land. In embracing the city—specifically Montreal—the rising francophone technocrat middle-classes mobilised a discourse of ‘catching up’ with other (overly) industrialised nations. Montreal became the preferred setting for fiction and other forms of cultural production. As a result, with the exception of a small handful of works (e.g. Warwick 1968, Sing 1995), critical analyses of literary representations of spaces and places outside of this city were relegated to the occasional book chapter. However, since the publication of Samuel Archibald’s Arvida (2011), a short story collection set in Saguenay, there is a sense that hors-Montréal is becoming attractive to authors of recent fiction in Québec. This is underlined in a special issue of the journal, Liberté, entitled ‘Les régions à nos portes’ (April 2012). Here, Archibald identifies three trends with respect to what he refers to as ‘le néoterroir en littérature’; one of these being ‘une démontréalisation marquée de la littérature québécoise’ (Archibald 2012, 17, his italics). This paper, which is part of a wider project on fictional representations of Québec’s ‘regions’, looks at nordicité in a number of novels set on the North Shore of the Saint Lawrence River.

Ceri Morgan is a Senior Lecturer at Keele University where she works on literary geographies in contemporary Québécois fiction. Her monograph, Mindscapes of Montréal: Québec’s Urban Novel, 1960-2005 (University of Wales Press, 2012) was supported by the AHRC. Her current project, Heartlands/Pays du cœur, looks at representations of spaces and places outside Montreal. She has begun work in participatory methods, using techniques such as walking interviews and geopoetics (walking and writing) workshops. A Leverhulme International Academic Fellowship enabled Ceri to receive appropriate training in these methodologies at Concordia University, Montreal during Summer 2014 and Spring 2015.