Creating the National Mosaic: Multiculturalism in Canadian Children’s Literature from 1950 to 1994

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The Canadian Multicultural Mosaic has long been recognized as an – if not the – outstanding characteristic of the Canadian nation at home and abroad. It has, further, come to be regarded as a model worldwide of a well-functioning culturally diverse society. This first book-length study of Canadian multicultural children’s literature sets out to explore how literature for the young has contributed to the creation of the country’s multicultural discourse as well as to the construction of its national identity. In this context, children’s literature possesses particular significance, as juvenile literature by nature serves an educational purpose which extends to forming and informing the next generation of a country’s citizens. In order to achieve a deeper understanding of the complex structures at work, not only the fictional works themselves but also Canada’s policy with regard to children’s culture and literature have been examined. In order to provide an optimally comprehensive picture, chapters include, among other aspects, information on public library services for immigrant children, on Canadian research collections specializing in children’s literature, on Canadian publishing for children, and on promotional activities. The works of fiction examined cover the period from 1950 to 1994 – thus illustrating the development of the nation’s multicultural discourse – and include various Canadian regions as well as protagonists belonging to different ethnic groups. While the approach is interdisciplinary, the novels discussed are above all read against the tenets of Canadian multiculturalism as manifested in such core documents as Prime Minister Trudeau’s 1971 parliamentary declaration and the 1988 Canadian Multiculturalism Act. The chief objective of the present study is to understand the interdependence between ideology, children’s literature, and the creation of a national discourse.

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1 National IdentityFormation
2 The Canadian Situation
3 Canadian Cultural Policy with Regard to Childrens Culture and Literature
4 The Immigrant Experience as Depicted in AngloCanadian Youth Fiction 19501994
Conclusion and Outlook for the Future

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About the author (2011)

Miriam Verena Richter teaches in the Department of English at Friedrich Schiller University, Jena (Germany). She has published on Canadian children s literature, German youth fiction, and British and Canadian historical fiction.

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