||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 2) counterparts of
Taiwanese postmodern cities.
Reserved, gentle and sophisticated? Cold,
Americanized, or -- non-identifiable? 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
Canada, or the Canadian culture, is actually
not too far away from us -- with the daily and rapid exchange of commodities,
information and people (e.g. Taiwanese and Hong Kongese immigration to
Canada) between the two nations. Despite and perhaps because of the complexities
mentioned above, we Taiwanese can relate to the issues (such as national
identity, race and gender issues) Canada struggles with. Let's have
a glimpse at the possible issues:
How do we characterize "the Canadian"?
nation--How is the Canadian different
from the British and the U.S.? How does Canada retain one-ness while confirming
multiculturalism? How do the film and literature of Toronto and Montreal
construct national identity differently?
race--Is it a "mosaic" or "vertical
In other words, in what forms does racism appear in Canadian society, on
both individual and institutional levels?
gender--How is sexism related to
racism? Or nationalism? Where are the gender, racial and national boundaries?
We need a focus. The focus on Canadian
postmodern cities (i.e. Toronto and Montreal) will help us locate
the issues--discuss how they are presented and treated in specific urban
contexts. The urban contexts, as a matter of fact, do not just serve as
passive "settings." Rather, explicitly or implicitly, they--i.e.
the areas such as the ghetto, the subway, the street, the elevator and
the telecommunication media such as the radio, TV and the computer -- interact
with the characters, and the two together offer multiple "embodiments"
of the urban issues of race, gender and nation.
Why postmodern cities in film and
Major authors: --
And the texts? (Please
go to the syllabus for the authors and texts which are chosen.)
Toronto -- Margeret Atwood (probably
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
Collections: This Ain't No Healing
Town: Toronto Stories, Montreal mon amour and
Forest: The New Fiction of Urban Canada.
Major film directors: Toronto -- Atom
Egoyan, Patricia Rozema, Shniva Krishna
Montreal -- Robert Lepage (his films
and play), Denys Arcand, Claude Lauzon, Montreal vu par (a
film by six directors) and Cosmos (if available).
[The above shortened list is still
too long for a two-hour course. Selections will have to be made.]
note on group report: you are allowed to use a Taiwanese text (film,
play or novel) on Taipei city IF you are able to compare
it with one of our texts in the conclusion of your report.
Most importantly, the requirements?
Besides the usual stuffs -- journals,
class participation, group report and final exam, the course requires a
commitment to watching the films outside of class and before
the discussion in class. Film showing time will be announced ahead of time,
and I will try to make copies available for circulation.
Finally, the evitable--grading policy
Bi-weekly journal -- 20 %
Group report & Class Participation
Final Exam -- 50%
Failure to read or watch the assigned
texts before class can constitute reasons for failing the
course. Missing one text is equal to 1/2 absence; three
absences means failing the course.