Multiculturalism and Its Dungeons: Gothic Anxieties in Canadian Culture
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It has been argued, at least since the 1970s, that Canadian literature is pervaded by gothic themes, moods and conventions. This Canadian streak of Gothicism may be defined as a predilection for the grotesque and the excessive, which threaten the established boundaries so dear to a culture outwardly dedicated to moderation and stability, to "a constant pursuit of a consensus beyond the incongruous and opposing interests and ideological visions," as the conference's Call for Papers puts it. Drawing examples from Canadian literature and film, I would like to demonstrate how the challenges of history and a rather extreme geography trigger anxieties over identity, corporeality, gender, sexuality, and even such basic categories as "the human" and "the organic." With their disparate histories (indigenous, French, English, immigrant, queer) Canadians may appear, both to themselves and to the outside world, a Frankenstein of a nation, an arbitrary entity stitched roughly together from a number of heterogenous elements and maintained by a neoliberal enforcement of the politics of multicultural consensus.
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