Keynote Address IV: Eccles Lecture
Professor Rosemary Chapman
University of Nottingham

From Cannon to Canons: 
Writing the Literary History of Francophone Canada

The appearance of the first literary histories in French-speaking Canada can be seen as a response to Lord Durham’s 1839 description of the French-Canadians as a people with no history and no culture. A nation of victims dared to have a vision of the future. Subsequent volumes of literary history, written by lawyers, priests, nuns, journalists and academics, have shaped the past, heralded the future, drawn and redrawn the boundaries of a (minor) national literature. What do such works tell us about what Linda Hutcheon has referred to as a nation’s ‘self-understanding’? In particular how has the history of francophone literature in Canada been told, given the francophone Canadian population’s complex colonial history?

Rosemary Chapman is Professor of Francophone Canadian Literature at the University of Nottingham, UK, where she teaches francophone Canadian literature. Her research has covered many aspects of 20th century French and francophone literature and culture. Publications include: Between Languages and Cultures: Colonial and Postcolonial Readings of Gabrielle Roy (2009) (Prix Pierre Savard 2010); Siting the Quebec Novel: the Representation of Space in Francophone Writing in Quebec (2000); Henry Poulaille and Proletarian Literature 1920-39 (1992). She was also guest editor of a special issue of International Journal of Francophone Studies, 9 (3), 2006, on ‘Cultural and Linguistic Contact and Conflict in Francophone Canada’. Her latest book, What is Québécois Literature? Reflections on the Literary History of Francophone Writing in Canada, is to be published by Liverpool University Press in 2013.