Borderlands: How We Talk about Canada

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UBC Press, 1998 - Social Science - 119 pages
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Border lines have long affected how Canadians look at themselves and talk about their society. One commentator has even said that Canada is ‘unthinkable’ without a sense of its northern limits, its oceanic rims, and the symbolic geography of the 49th parallel. Yet borders--and the border lands they evoke--are fragile, permeable structures, not so much fixed edges as claims upon difference and metaphors of confrontation and exchange.

Borderlands traces some of the ways in which these border metaphors pervade Canadian consciousness. Addressing a variety of social issues--among them, separatism, marginalization, multiculturalism, colonial attitudes, national policies, language, and the influence of the United States--W.H. New shows how the border, though spatial in characer, is political in intent and effect. Comprising three essays, Borderlands moves from a general survey of the metaphor of the border, to a close examination of the significance of the US border in Canadian cultural history, finishing with a detailed comparison of two literary texts from the Pacific Northwest, each of which is shaped by the border concerns of the culture it represents.

This crisp, provocative, always serious, and often very funny book is a timely study of the Canadian nationa, a fresh examination of the values that underlie Canadian social attitudes and cultural expression. Essential reading for those interested in current debates in Canadian Studies, the book will also appeal to all who are fascinated by what it means to be Canadian.


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About the author (1998)

W.H. (Bill) New is University Killam Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia where he was in the English department from 1965 to 2003. He was also the editor of the well-known journal Canadian Literature for eighteen years. He has published several critical works and books of poetry, four books for children, and has been a co-editor on numerous collections and anthologies. Among many honours, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006 and presented with the Governor General's Award for Canadian Studies in 2004.

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