Canadian Literature Class Visits Ottawa

Members of the CompLit326 class visiting the House of Commons in the Parliament.
Members of the CompLit326 class visiting the House of Commons in the Parliament.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature Julie-Françoise Kruidenier Tolliver ’02 and her CompLit 326 class spent the weekend of April 15-17 exploring Ottawa, Canada’s national capital. The students, Michael Harwick ’11, Stacy Marris ’13 and Emily Wollaeger ’11, were also accompanied by Teaching Fellow in French Kadiantou Coulibaly.

The group visited the Museum of Civilization, where they learned about the first peoples and the settlement history of Canada, and toured the Parliament buildings, where they had the opportunity to discuss differences between Canadian and U.S. systems of government. The trip also included a stop at the Moulin de Provence, a bakery in Ottawa’s ByWard Market that achieved international fame in 2009 when it was visited by President Barack Obama. Hosted by Tolliver’s parents, the students sampled traditional Québécois foods and culture.

Tolliver’s comparative literature course, As Canadian As…Possible, is an introduction to recent Canadian literature, focusing on what the literature reveals about Canadian perceptions of a national identity. The title of the course is derived from a contest that took place in the 1970s: Peter Gzowski, a CBC radio host, was hoping his listeners would find a definition of Canadian identity as catchy as the traditional American maxim, “As American as apple pie.” The winning submission was “As Canadian as possible, under the circumstances.” The slogan quickly became a cliché for Canada’s uneasy sense of identity. Readings for the class include criticism as well as fiction by Joseph Boyden, Nicole Brossard, Roch Carrier, Wayson Choy, George Elliott Clarke, Dany Laferrière, Margaret Laurence, Antonine Maillet, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, Jacques Poulin and Gaétan Soucy.


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