The afterlife of survival: a thematic guide to contemporary Canadian short fiction

SKELTON, Stella Felicity Barbara (2016). The afterlife of survival: a thematic guide to contemporary Canadian short fiction. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Abstract

Margaret Atwood’s Survival: a thematic guide to Canadian literature was originally published by House of Anansi Press in Toronto in 1972. In spite of the mixed reception, Survival became a key text in the study of Canadian Literature. Although it is now taught as a historical curiosity, it is possible to trace the ideas in it, and their reconfigured functions, through contemporary Canadian short fiction. It is my contention that the ideas and themes which Atwood describes have rooted themselves in the Canadian imaginary, and that they have taken on a truth value which was originally disputed. Thus it is relatively easy to trace the continuing life of, for example, ‘Settlers and Explorers’ (Survival, Chapter 5) in contemporary Canadian short fiction. This is a synchronic study, not merely tracing the appearances of Atwood’s themes, but looking at how they are refigured in the later twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, using stories published since 1972 to illustrate the argument. The potential impact of the research will be the re-evaluation of Atwood’s forty-year old text, which with Frye’s The Bush Garden were the ‘parents of CanLit’ (Fee, 2013, pers.comm.), and the exposure of the continuing arguments in literature in Canada about national identity, in the light of an increasingly multicultural population, and the growing neo-colonial awareness of the ‘behemoth to the South’ (Chilton, 2003). It will also bring a neglected body of work to international attention, and most particularly to the UK. Although Atwood, Alice Munro, and to a lesser extent, Alistair MacLeod are known both inside Canada and abroad, Mark Anthony Jarman, Thomas Wharton, Hiromi Goto, Lisa Moore, Joseph Boyden, Lynn Coady, Patricia Young, Lauren B. Davis, Diane Schoemperlen, Matt Cohen, D. W. Wilson and Leon Rooke are known only to dedicated readers of the short form, and these are the writers I have chosen to focus on here.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2017 09:47
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2017 22:21
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/16548

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