"Premonition of a Future Line We Will Be Writing: Politics, Language and Identity in English Canadian Experimental Poetry," explores the way Canadian identity is constructed and interrogated principally in the poetry of the Postmodern period of the 1960s and 1970s, though my first chapter does reach back to the roots of Canadian poetry. I argue that Canada's position as a multilingual settler nation results in an inability to form a coherent and consistent national identity. The inability to naturalize a national identity or character, along with the ever-present concern with language, provides a space open to play and allows language to trouble and de-naturalize other centers of power.
Language play in this kind of cultural environment becomes political. This can be seen in the failed legislative assault on bill bissett as I argue in my second chapter. bissett' s use of language to challenge hegemonic forces and satirize them, his refusal to conform, causes a member of the House to denounce him as evil. What bissett does, however, is typical of Canadian poetry. Like bissett, bpNichol, and Margaret Atwood use the destabilizing qualities of language and the failure of a domestic literary identity to play in spaces of power and construct new identities: Nichol by exploring post-structuralist language as an emancipatory tool, and Atwood, in The Journals of Susanna Moodie, by using representations of the past and textual masks to craft a national narrative for herself.
Perhaps the most significant intervention of my project comes in the last chapter. I argue that
despite the controversy these poets and the tactics they deployed generated in the 1970s, that in
the 1980s with the production of Fraggle Rock and its being broadcast on the CBC they become
normalized. Several Canadian poets including Nichol worked on the show which as a result not
only injected the philosophies of the experimental poets into mass culture, but was supported by
the national broadcaster and aimed at children. If the CBC can be seen as a prime mover in the
formulation of an official Canadian culture than this sanction can be read as evidence of a shift in
the nation's culture.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2011. Major: English. Advisor: Paula Rabinowitz. 1 computer file (PDF) iii,  pages.
Cox, Ryan Jacob.
Premonition of a future line we will be writing:politics, language and identity in experimental English Canadian poetry..
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