Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Posted in Books, Canada, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2019-07-16 14:02Z by Steven

Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
295 pages
6 x 1 x 9 inches
ISBN13: 978-1-77112-240-5

Michelle La Flamme, Professor of English
University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

Canada’s history is bicultural, Indigenous, and multilingual, and these characteristics have given risen to a number of strategies used by our writers to code racially mixed characters. This book examines contemporary Canadian literature and drama in order to tease out some of those strategies and the social and cultural factors that inform them.

Racially hybrid characters in literature have served a matrix of needs. They are used as shorthand for interracial desire, signifiers of taboo love, images of impurity, symbols of degeneration, and examples of beauty and genetic perfection. Their fates have been used to suggest the futility of marrying across racial lines, or the revelation of their “one drop” signals a climactic downfall. Other narratives suggest mixed-race bodies are foundational to colonization and signify contact between colonial and Indigenous bodies.

Author Michelle LaFlamme approaches racial hybridity with a cross-generic and cross-racial approach, unusual in the field of hybridity studies, by analyzing characters with different racial mixes in autobiographies, fiction, and drama. Her analysis privileges literary texts and the voices of artists rather than sociological explanations of the mixed-race experience. The book suggests that the hyper-visualization of mixed-race bodies in mono-racial contexts creates a scopophilic interest in how those bodies look and perform race.

La Flamme’s term “soma text” draws attention to the constructed, performative aspects of this form of embodiment. The writers she examines witness that living in a racially hybrid and ambiguous body is a complex engagement that involves reading and decoding the body in sophisticated ways, involving both the multiracial body and the racialized gaze of the onlooker.

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In Due Season

Posted in Books, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Novels on 2016-05-29 00:53Z by Steven

In Due Season

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
May 2016
375 pages
ISBN13: 978-1-77112-071-5

Christine van der Mark (1917–1970)

Afterword by:

Carole Gerson, Professor of English Department
Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada

Janice Dowson, Lecturer in English literature and Academic Writing
Simon Fraser University and University of the Fraser Valley

First published in 1947, In Due Season broke new ground with its fictional representation of women and of Indigenous people. Set during the dustbowl 1930s, this tersely narrated prize-winning novel follows Lina Ashley, a determined solo female homesteader who takes her family from drought-ridden southern Alberta to a new life in the Peace River region. Here her daughter Poppy grows up in a community characterized by harmonious interactions between the local Métis and newly arrived European settlers. Still, there is tension between mother and daughter when Poppy becomes involved with a Métis lover. This novel expands the patriarchal canon of Canadian prairie fiction by depicting the agency of a successful female settler and, as noted by Dorothy Livesay, was “one of the first, if not the first Canadian novel wherein the plight of the Native Indian and the Métis is honestly and painfully recorded.” The afterword by Carole Gerson and Janice Dowson provides substantial information about author Christine van der Mark and situates her under-acknowledged book within the contexts of Canadian social, literary, and publishing history.

Christine van der Mark (1917–1970) was born and raised in Calgary. While teaching in rural Alberta schools, she attended the University of Alberta, receiving her B.A. in 1941 and her M.A. in Creative Writing in 1946. Much of her writing expressed sympathetic concern for the Métis of Northern Alberta.

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The False Laws of Narrative: The Poetry of Fred Wah

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, Canada, Media Archive, Poetry on 2012-11-29 03:35Z by Steven

The False Laws of Narrative: The Poetry of Fred Wah

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
October 2009
102 pages
Paper ISBN13: 978-1-55458-046-0

Fred Wah, Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate

Edited by:

Louis Cabri, Associate Professor of English
University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

The False Laws of Narrative is a selection of Fred Wah’s poems covering the poets entire poetic trajectory to date. A founding editor of Tish magazine, Wah was influenced by leading progressive and innovative poets of the 1960s and was at the forefront of the exploration of racial hybridity, multiculturalism, and transnational family roots in poetry. The selection emphasizes his innovative poetic range.

Wah is renowned as one of Canada’s finest and most complex lyric poets and has been lauded for the musicality of his verse. Louis Cabri’s introduction offers a paradigm for thinking about how sound is actually structured in Wah’s improvisatory poetry and offers fresh insights into Wah’s context and writing. In an afterword by the poet himself, Wah presents a dialogue between editor and poet on the key themes of the selected poems and reveals his abiding concerns as poet and thinker.

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The Long Journey of a Forgotten People: Métis Identities and Family Histories

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Canada, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2010-06-23 01:04Z by Steven

The Long Journey of a Forgotten People: Métis Identities and Family Histories

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
May 2007
370 pages
ISBN13: 978-0-88920-523-9


Ute Lischke, Associate Professor of English and Film Studies
Wilfrid Laurier University

David T. McNab, Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies
York University, Toronto

Known as “Canada’s forgotten people,” the Métis have long been here, but until 1982 they lacked the legal status of Native people. At that point, however, the Métis were recognized in the constitution as one of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. A significant addition to Métis historiography, The Long Journey of a Forgotten People includes Métis voices and personal narratives that address the thorny and complicated issue of Métis identity from historical and contemporary perspectives. Topics include eastern Canadian Métis communities; British military personnel and their mixed-blood descendants; life as a Métis woman; and the Métis peoples ongoing struggle for recognition of their rights, including discussion of recent Supreme Court rulings.

Table of Contents

Preface, The Years of Achievement Ute Lischke and David T.McNab
Introduction: We Are Still Here Ute Lischke and David T.McNab

Part I: Reflections on Métis Identities

    1. Out of the Bush: A Journey to a Dream Olive Patricia Dickason
    2. A Long Journey: Reflections on Spirit Memory and Métis Identities David T. McNab
    3. Reflections on Métis Connections in the Life and Writings of Louise Erdrich Ute Lischke
    4. The Winds of Change: Métis Rights after Powley, Taku and Haida Jean Teillet

Part II: Historical Perspectives

    1. “I Shall Settle, Marry, and Trade Here”: British Military Personnel and Their Mixed-Blood Descendants Sandy Campbell
    2. Early Forefathers to the Athabasca Métis: Long-Term North West Company Employees Nicole St. Onge
    3. Manipulating Identity: The Sault Borderlands Métis and Colmiac Intervention Karl S. Hele
    4. New Light on the Plains Métis: The Buffalo Hunters of Pembinah, 1870- 71 Heather Devine
    5. The Drummond Island Voyageurs and the Search for Great Lakes Métis Identity Karen J. Travers

Part III: Métis Families and Communities

  1. Searching for the Silver Fox: A fur-Trade Family History Virginia (Parker) Barter
  2. The Kokum Puzzle: Finding and Fitting the Pieces Donna G. Sutherland
  3. “Where the White Dove Flew Up”: The Saguingue Métis Community and the Fur Trade at Southampton on Lake Huron Patsy Lou Wilson McArthur
  4. My Story: Reflections on Growing Up in Lac la Biche Jaime Koebel
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Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Books, Canada, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy on 2009-11-23 02:50Z by Steven


Wilfrid Laurier University Press
December 2004
184 pages
ISBN13: 978-0-88920-444-7

Velma Demerson

On a May morning in 1939, eighteen-year-old Velma Demerson and her lover were having breakfast when two police officers arrived to take her away. Her crime was loving a Chinese man, a “crime” that was compounded by her pregnancy and subsequent mixed-race child. Sentenced to a home for wayward girls, Demerson was then transferred (along with forty-six other girls) to Toronto’s Mercer Reformatory for Females. The girls were locked in their cells for twelve hours a day and required to work in the on-site laundry and factory. They also endured suspect medical examinations. When Demerson was finally released after ten months’ incarceration weeks of solitary confinement, abusive medical treatments, and the state’s apprehension of her child, her marriage to her lover resulted in the loss of her citizenship status.

This is the story of how Demerson, and so many other girls, were treated as criminals or mentally defective individuals, even though their worst crime might have been only their choice of lover. Incorrigible is a survivor’s narrative. In a period that saw the rise of psychiatry, legislation against interracial marriage, and a populist movement that believed in eradicating disease and sin by improving the purity of Anglo-Saxon stock, Velma Demerson, like many young women, found herself confronted by powerful social forces. This is a history of some of those who fell through the cracks of the criminal code, told in a powerful first-person voice.

Velma Demerson is a widow, and mother of three children—the first child, the son of her interracial marriage, died at age twenty-six. She has worked throughout her life in a variety of positions, mostly as a secretary for governments (provincial and federal) and lawyers. She is self-educated. This is her first book.

Read an excerpt here.

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