Transcultural Imaginaries: History and Globalization in Contemporary Canadian Literature

By Liu, Zhen | British Journal of Canadian Studies, January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Transcultural Imaginaries: History and Globalization in Contemporary Canadian Literature


Liu, Zhen, British Journal of Canadian Studies


Nora Tunkel, Transcultural Imaginaries: History and Globalization in Contemporary Canadian Literature (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag, 2012), 256 pp. Cased. euro35. ISBN 978-3-8253-6035-1.

Tunkel endorses Janice Kulyk Keefer's proposal of replacing the long-standing and in fact outdated 'mosaic' as Canada's national imaginary with that of a kaleidoscope, which better suits Canada's present situation. While in earlier decades, Canadian critics and writers were preoccupied with retrieving a singular, unified national identity, contemporary Canada has been proud of its mosaic image since the passing of the Multiculturalism Act in 1988. However, as Keefer suggests, the mosaic image is problematic as it insists upon fragmentation and privileges separation and rigidity over interconnection, mobility and transformation. Tunkel argues that the transcultural imaginaries that have existed in Canadian literary works all along (especially in Québécois works) are becoming increasingly relevant and apparent in the age of globalisation and migration.

The book consists of three parts. Part I is devoted to theoretical studies, tracing through Canadian literary history the development of Canada's national identity and imagination. Many prominent and influential critics' contributions to the construction and presentation of Canada's national images are recounted and re-evaluated. These include Northrop Frye's 'garrison mentality', Margaret Atwood's Survival and Linda Hutcheon's The Canadian Postmodern. Part II, titled 'Interdisciplinary Innovation and Reflection', gives critical insight into some pertinent sociological key terms, such as globalisation, multiculturalism, interculturalism and transculturalism, and the concept of transcultural imaginaries, which is the author's major contribution, is emphasised and elaborated. …

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