Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

'Canada Abroad' (at a) Crossroads

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

'Canada Abroad' (at a) Crossroads

Article excerpt

'Canada Abroad' crossroads

Our narrative begins in a tiny basement cafeteria in the English Department of Szczecin University in Poland, 29 November 2011. To some it might seem a rather insignificant tale, just as seemingly insignificant as the number of founding members of the Szczecin Canadian Studies Group - in total, three. To others, however, it might become a familiar trope, a story of enthusiastic scholars of Canadian studies doing their best to spread knowledge of Canada outside of its boundaries. After all, the story of 'Canada Abroad' is not new (cf. Hoerder 2005: 247-55) and, as Dirk Hoerder reminds us, 'Canadian Studies initiatives began [in fact] from the outside' (ibid.: 247).

The organisation of contemporar y Canadian studies in Europe goes back to the 1970s, when the first European associations for Canadian studies were established.1 Starting with the British Association for Canadian Studies (BACS, 1975), the circle of European Canadianists widened to include associations formed in France (1976), Italy (1978) and within the German-speaking countries (1980) (cf. Hoerder 2005: 250). The interest in Canadian studies was not of course limited to the European continent; the formation of BACS was preceded by the establishment of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States (ACSUS, 1971) and of the Canadian Association for Canadian Studies (ACS, 1973), and it was followed by other non-European associations like the Association for Canadian Studies in Australia and New Zealand (ACSANZ, 1980).2 Hoerder points out that it was 'This surge of international Canadian studies' (ibid.: 250) which led the already existing associations to create the International Council for Canadian Studies/Conseil international d'études canadiennes (ICCS/ CIEC) in 1981. As a result, 'the ICCS began to function a mere eight years after self-organisation of Canadian scholars in the ACS' (ibid.: 250), an obser vation which does emphasise the significant role of the scholarship from abroad in developing Canadian studies, which has also been proved by younger associations established after 1981 - for example, the Polish Association for Canadian Studies (PACS) was established in 1998.

The stor y of 'Canada Abroad' is thus multifaceted: it includes 'Canadian Studies Programs in 55 countries, in which more than 7,000 foreign scholars are involved - frequently embedded in and supported by 28 national associ- ations for Canadian Studies, five multinational associations ... and by an umbrella organisation, the International Council (ICCS)' (Thunert 2013: 171; trans. WS). It is thus a stor y told by multiple voices, diverse in terms of nationality, gender, age and scholarly disciplines,3 but united in their overall interest in Canadian studies and by their efforts to develop this field.

The Szczecin Canadian Studies Group: origin and development

The particular stor y of the Szczecin Canadian Studies Group (henceforth SCSG) reflects that greater, general stor y of 'Canada Abroad': its founding members, whose personal and professional contexts differ, came together to work towards one goal - that is, developing Canadian studies. Three facult y members in the English Department of Szczecin University in Poland - Professor Dr hab. Hartmut Lutz (Germany), Dr hab. Uwe Zagratzki (Germany) and Dr Weronika Suchacka (Poland) - determined to join forces in their efforts 'to establish Canadian studies as another attractive and unique component of Szczecin University's English Department' (SCSG 2012). Before establishing the group for this particular purpose, however, the SCSG members had already offered a variety of Canadian studies courses, including 'Native Literature in Canada' (Hartmut Lutz), 'Atlantic Canadian Literature' (Uwe Zagratzki) and 'Ukrainian-Canadian Literature' (Weronika Suchacka), which corresponded to their specialisations within Canadian studies and which they also had opportunities to teach elsewhere abroad. …

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