CDST 350-201 Linguistic Identity in Canada 3 credits
Term 2: Tue-Thu. 2:00-3:30 pm; Math 202 Instructor TBA
Canada is far from being a bilingual nation, and this despite the introduction of the Official Languages Act in 1972, which recognizes French and English as official languages. Moreover, the Act itself fails to recognize that Canada is much more than a bilingual country, as more than 200 languages are spoken on its territory, some for thousands of years, some on the verge of extinction. The nation-building narrative featuring the French, the English, and their descendants — encapsulated in titles such as Two Solitudes (Hugh MacLennan, 1945) and La guerre, yes sir ! (Roch Carrier, 1968) — is rooted in geographical, historical and political landmarks that extend from the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (1759), through to the 1960s Quiet Revolution which equated the “French fact” with the Québec territory, and onto the referenda on Québec’s independence (1980, 1995). The Official Languages Act has developed into a linguistic model that defines Canada both within its nation-state boundaries (reflected by unresolved tensions with multiculturalism and multilingualism policies and by ambivalence towards francophone communities outside of Québec) and beyond (including membership in the Commonwealth and in the Organisation internationale de la francophonie).
Going forward, how will linguistic identity in Canada present itself in the future? Factors on the horizon include the struggle for First Nations and Metis’ rights and the reconciliation dialogue, immigration trends (especially multilingual francophone and anglophone speakers from Africa), the effects of globalization, and the decreasing proportional weight of francophones. Through an interdisciplinary approach that combines Literature, Film, Linguistics, and Memory Studies, this course will look at what defines Canada in terms of language, both as a symbolic resource and as real tool in the performance and contestation of identity.
This course might also be of interest to students specializing in fields other than Canadian Studies, such as First Nations Studies, African Studies, International Relations, Political Science, and Linguistics.
Term 2, Wed 9:00- 12:00 Prof. Michael Byers
Cross-listed with POLI 462-002