Course Description & Requirements
|This course examines the race, gender
and personal relations presented in some contemporary Canadian films and
literature set in Toronto and Montreal. The imaginary cities in these works
will be seen as
1.) examples of "the Canadian", and
Cold, Americanized, or -- victimized, nameless and wordless?
All of these words are possible but partial descriptions, since Canada, like all the other postcolonial nations, has a mixture of cultures, races and contradictory self-images. To us Taiwanese Canada offers syrup, maple leaf, picturesque tourist spots and ice-melt clean water. But to itself, it has a combination of non-militaristic national flag and the very violent hockey game, the Quebecois French which is "not-quite" French and the Canadian English which is hardly distinguishable from British and American English. Moreover, it is still struggling with the heart-wrenching question of "One nation, two nations, or many regions" -- the possibility of turning multicultural mosaic into a mixture of two solitudes or many solitudes.
2. post/modern urbanism -- The urban contexts, as a matter of fact, do not just serve as passive "settings." The post/modern urban spaces--i.e. the areas such as the ghetto, the subway, the street, the elevator--interact with the city-dwellers and produce conflictual social relations, just as the rapid information and economic exchanges via telecommunication media intensify these conflictual relations.
In other words, post/modern urbanism adds a new dimension to the issues we discussed above, as well as intensifying them. How do we characterize post/modern city? For one thing, technologies develop and population increase rapidly through both the modern and postmodern eras. On the other hand, modern city pushes industrialism and rationalization to an extreme, while postmodern city is a lot more diversified in its population, functions, spatial arrangement and its cultures. In face of the keleidescope-like urban images and fast flows of traffic and people, capital and information, do we feel alientated or connected?
How do the Canadian characters survive in their cities, and we, in ours?
Toronto -- Margeret Atwood (probably Robber Bride), Austin Clark and Dionne Brand (short stories), Michael Ondaatje In the Skin of a Lion
Montreal -- The Seven Streams of River Ota Robert Lepage (trans.), Dany Laferriere (short stories)
Collections: This Ain't No Healing Town: Toronto Stories, Montreal mon amour and Concrete Forest: The New Fiction of Urban Canada.
Major film directors: Toronto -- Atom
Egoyan, Patricia Rozema, Shniva Krishna, Jeremy Podeswa, Clement Virgo