Borderlands: How We Talk About Canada
Under the general title of Borderlands, the three related essays in this monograph address the rhetoric of border/boundary in Canadian studies and its social, political, and cultural implications, the character of cultural responses to Canada-US border tensions, and two specific examples of how border transgressions continue to affect current Washington State and British Columbia cultural expression.
A number of motifs appear throughout these essays, including the politics of separation, the persistence of racist discourse in North America (and of attempts to counter it), the role of education in informing public debate, the existence of communally-held social values in Canada, the necessity of the arts, the power of language, and the relation between social choice and indeterminacy.
The first essay, 'Giddy Limits,' ranges the most widely, drawing on examples from history and literature, geography and popular culture. It elucidates the politics of various recurrent rhetorical strategies in Canadian cultural commentary. The second essay, 'The Edge of Everything,' pursues a series of specific applications of 'border rhetoric' (including irony, national policies, and oppositional strategies) to Canada-US relations. The third essay, 'The Centre of Somewhere Else,' looks in part at the rhetoric of two contemporary writers (Seattle's David Guterson and Victoria's Jack Hodgins) in relation to the 1859 Pig War and to curricular reform. This final essay demonstrates further how the large issues raised in the first two essays resonate both in historical narrative and in contemporary social and cultural practice.