Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Simple Sentimentality or Specific Narrative Strategy? the Functions and Use of Nostalgia in the Ukrainian-Canadian Text

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Simple Sentimentality or Specific Narrative Strategy? the Functions and Use of Nostalgia in the Ukrainian-Canadian Text

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT/RESUME

This paper explores the functions and use of nostalgia in Ukrainian-Canadian writing. It argues that nostalgia underwrites a significant number of Ukrainian-Canadian texts and functions as a highly successful narrative and stylistic device. Nostalgia is defined as the strategic sublimation of desires and longings into textual form. This definition depends not only upon conventional concepts of emotional or psychological longing, but argues that these emotional states effect a particular and identifiable form of textuat production/narrative strategy. Three texts will be analysed: Vera Lysenko's novel, Yellow Boots, first published by the Ryerson Press in 1954; Myrna Kostash's screenplay for a short film entitled Teach Me To Dance, produced by Anne Wheeler for The National Film Board in 1974; and Susan Woywitka and Randy Mueller's play, Kyla 's Christmas Concert, performed by Stage Polaris in Edmonton in 1994. In critically assessing these texts I define three specific ways in which nostalgia is manifest in the texts, and I go on to name four defining characteristics of nostalgic discourse in the Ukrainian-Canadian text.

Cette communication examine les fonctions et l'utilisation de la nostalgie dans la redaction canadienne-ukrainienne. Elle affirme que la nostalgie prend en charge un nombre important de textes canadiens-ukrainiens et fonctionne comme dispositif narratif et stylistique grand succes. La nostalgic est definie comme etant la sublimation strategique des desirs ardents sous une forme textuelle. Cette definition depend non seulement des concepts conventionnels des desirs emotionnels et psychologiques, mais elle affirme egalement que ces etats passionnels donnent une forme particuliere et bien distincte de production textuelle/strategie narrative. Trois textes sont analyses: le roman de Vera Lysenko, Yellow Boots, d'abord public par Ryerson Press en 1954; le scenario de Myrna Kostash pour un court metrage intitule Teach Me to Dance, realise par Anne Wheeler pour l' Office national du film en 1974; et la piece de Susan Woywitka et de Randy Mueller, Kyla's Christmas Concert, presentee par Stage Polaris a Edmonton en 19 94. Par l'evaluation critique de ces trois textes, je definis trois manieres distinctes selon lesquelles est manifestee Ia nostalgie dans ces textes et je poursuis en nommant quatre caracteristiques definitoires de discours nostalgique dans le texte canadien-ukrainien.

Ukrainians arrived on Canadian territory as early as the 1890s, and through a further two waves of immigration established themselves as a visible part of Canada's multicultural mosaic. Now, a significant number of Canadians are writing with a consciousness of their Ukrainian ancestry or an awareness of themselves as being 'hyphenated' Ukrainian-Canadians. This paper (1) is an attempt to critically examine the Ukrainian-Canadian text (2) written in English (3) and explore the functions and use of nostalgia. It is a task undertaken with the knowledge that 'nostalgia' has been used as a value-laden term. In speaking of Australian migrant writing, Sneja Gunew has made the point that the term 'nostalgic' is a label which has been used to dismiss the literature as being inferior. (4) Whilst I would actively distance myself from any argument which sought to use the term as a qualitative judgement, it is my contention that nostalgia underwrites a significant number of Ukrainian-Canadian texts and is present not as a quality which necessarily relegates the text to an inferior status but as a highly successful narrative and stylistic device. As such it is imperative that it be understood. To illustrate this I will discuss three texts which I consider to be seminal: Vera Lysenko's novel Yellow Boots, published by the Ryerson Press in 1954; Myrna Kostash's screenplay for a short film entitled Teach Me To Dance, produced by Anne Wheeler for The National Film Board in 1974; and Susan Woywitka and Randy Mueller's play, Kyla's Christmas Concert performed by Stage Polaris in 1994. …

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