Prosimy o dokładne przeczytanie tematów esejów oraz ustosunkowanie się do wszystkich aspektów określonej problematyki sugerowanych w pytaniach pomocniczych.

  1. In 1968, a national fascination with the young Liberal Justice Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, his strong and innovative ideas about the principles of the government and politics and his youthful manners, unique for the times, led to his successful election to the office of the Prime Minister of Canada. Discuss Pierre Trudeau’s personal style and his major political accomplishments that produced a nationwide reaction called ‘Trudeaumania.’ Do you think that history can repeat itself in the person of his son Justin Trudeau, the current leader of the Liberal Party of Canada? Does Canada need charismatic leaders with a social conscience?

  1. Discuss the myth of the heroic, benevolent and upright Mounties as it was constructed in popular Canadian literature and film. Concentrate on the genre of the Northern or the Northwestern featuring Mounties (as contrasted with cowboys and sheriffs of American westerns).Comment on the importance of the mythologizing project in the process of building Canadian nationhood. What features of Canadianness do the RCMP officers reveal in the dominant culture representations of the police force? How is Sam Steele represented in Heritage Minutes? It is claimed that “the scarlet-coated riders had made the wilderness a safe abode and a place of opportunity for the law-abiding and industrious” (MacBeth, Policing the Plains 40). Their duty was to calm and “civilize” the frontier and they always succeeded in their missions. Has this idealized version of Canadian history ever been challenged by unacceptable actions of the RCMP officers? You may consult the essay by Christopher Gittings, “Imaging Canada. The Singing Mountie and Other Commodifications of Nation”.

  1. Visual imagery has a significant role in the formation of cultural and national identity. Images become internalized as cultural memories and they act as instruments of cohesive identity. In Canada, landscape painting has been used historically to construct a distinctive vision of Canadian national identity and it was the Group of Seven painters who have been hailed as the national group of artists. Discuss their role in the formation of specific mythologies of Canadianness. Identify the features of Canadianness promoted by the group. Do you find these conceptualizations problematic? Are you familiar with any parodies of the Group of Seven paintings? For the analysis of this topic you may consult essays by John O’Brian, „Kanadyjskość = Północność + Odludność. Malarstwo pejzażowe a tożsamość narodowa” and Edith-Anne Pageot, „Pejzaże, wyobcowanie. Konstruowanie mitów tożsamości narodowych w sztuce Kanady”.

  1. The opening ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics were organized by the Canadian government as a “showcase of the very best Canada has to offer in terms of ingenuity, friendliness, culture and diversity;” it was also a “rare opportunity for viewers to experience the diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures in Canada. In this visually stunning masterpiece […] Aboriginal youth in traditional clothing and regalia entered the stadium dancing their own traditional style of dance, representative of their unique Aboriginal heritage.” This ideal unified vision of Canada was broadcast to the world but was it a genuine representation of the current situation of Indigenous people in the country? What do you think of the National Chief Shawn Atleo’s bold words about “repealing the Indian Act and abolishing the Department of Aboriginal Affairs”? What is the Indian Act? What does the Idle No More Movement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada tell us about the present state of dialogue between both cultures?

  1. Canada is one of the best places in the world to live, according to the Better Life Index (2013) which finds the country among the leaders in most of the 24 indicators of 11 topics which reflect what the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has identified as essential to well-being in terms of material living conditions (housing, income, jobs) and quality of life (community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance). Canada came in third overall, behind Sweden and Australia. Which of the indicators make the country most attractive to immigrants? Which of them would be most important to you? Compare how Canada and Poland perform according to the importance you give to each of 11 topics that make for a better life. Does Poland feature better than Canada in any of the indicators of a better life?

  1. Popular cultural representations of Indigenous people of Canada and Native Americans in general are full of stereotypes based on colonial ideologies; they are, as Daniel Frances points out, “’[w]hite man’s fantasy”. Indeed, “through non-Aboriginal writing, theatre, film, television, comic books, and advertising, Indians have existed as the invention of the European.” Discuss the problem of misrepresenting Indigenous people by the dominant culture and compare the stereotypical images with the information you find about Indigenous people of Canada, living both on the reserve and in urban centres, on reliable websites and in online newspapers and magazines. What kind of vision of Aboriginal Canada are you getting from the various sources, including the Aboriginal media? How do the Indigenous people represent themselves to the world?

  2. Contemporary Aboriginal artists of Canada challenge the dominant national landscape art of the country. They also question their earlier misrepresentation in the art of such dominant culture artists as Paul Kane. Their art projects inscribe different distinct visions of Indigenous realities, worldviews and knowledge systems. First, comment on Paul Kane’s representation of Aboriginal people and then select examples of art from two different cultures and argue for their distinctiveness resulting from culture specific conceptualizations of the universe. Do you think the current interest in Aboriginal art results from a genuine desire to get to know another culture or just functions as another problematic colonial fascination with otherness?

  1. Heritage Minutes is another project of nation-building which aims at presenting a specific vision of Canadianness. Identify it and point out the major general characteristics of this national project. Analyze the construction of this vision on the basis of five examples of Heritage Minutes which focus on the representation of minority cultures. What kind of myth of Canadianness does the project promote? You are also expected to critique the series and take into consideration, for instance, the parodies of the Heritage Minutes in such Canadian television programs as “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” or “Royal Canadian Air Farce.” To discuss the topic you may consult two essays by Katarzyna Rukszto: “Up for Sale. The Commodification of Canadian Culture” and “The Other Heritage Minutes: Satirical Reactions to Canadian Nationalism”.

  1. Residential schools in Canada were perceived by the Canadian government as a tool of civilizing the Aboriginal population. However, the government, hand in hand with the Christian churches, began an unrelenting and continuing assault upon the Aboriginal family and culture. Forced to attend church-run residential schools and subject to horrendous mental, emotional and frequently sexual abuse, children were to be stripped of their Aboriginal identity by means of beating out their spirituality and language, and by a simultaneous imposition of a foreign value system. Referring to various written government documents, personal recollections of Aboriginal people (available online), and photographs, discuss the residential school education as a black chapter in Canadian history and show its long-term effects. Compare the residential schooling with the Aboriginal concept of education. Comment on the current actions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and express your opinion about it.

  1. The multicultural policy(Multiculturalism Act of 1988Bill 93, the Act for the Preservation and Enhancement of Multiculturalism in Canada) –the new approach to nation-building formed by the Liberal government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, gaveexplicit recognition to Canadians whose origin was non-French, non-British-, and non-Aboriginal (separate Indian Act laws regulate the status of indigenous peoples). Yet, historically, Canadian immigration history was marked by racism and discrimination. Racist laws and practices restricted not only the immigration of certain groups to the country but they also had an impact on the treatment of various minority cultures already residing in Canada. Write an essay on the exploitation and racist treatment of Asian Canadians. Focus either on the history of the Chinese in Canada, starting with the treatment of the Chinese working on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway through the Rocky Mountains, or on the racist attitudes towards Japanese Canadians both prior and in the wake of the outbreak of WWII, their removal from the coast of British Columbia and imprisonment in internment camps. To examine the topic, refer to various written government documents, personal testimonials, and photographs. Reflect on the delayed apologies of the Canadian government to Asian Canadians and give examples of current important contributions of Asian Canadians to Canadian culture.

  1. Canadian writers have also been involved in the process of mythologizing Canada. One of the mythologies of Canadianness, constructed by the dominant culture of the early 20th century, was related to the concept of small towns which were idealized as representing a way of life that was “finer, simpler, purer, more kindly and more honourable” than in big industrial urban centres. Small town inhabitants, however, were rarely tolerant of otherness. To describe the mentality of closely knit, law-abiding societies whose moral and social values are unquestionable and for whom otherness is regarded as problematic, Northrop Frye proposes a concept of “garrison mentality”. Do you think that Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (1908) and other novels by the writer, should you wish to discuss them, represent Prince Edward Island small towns as “garrison mentality” communities? Discuss the representation of the island society, its values, religious beliefs, views on the role of women and men, and other convictions as well as prejudices. Does Montgomery contrast it with bigger cities? Some critics claim  that small Canadian towns represented the Canadian nation in miniature. Do you agree with such a statement with reference to Montgomery’s writing? Does the writer represent a broad spectrum of immigrants to Canada? What are the ethnic, religious and cultural groups she examines in her writing? Is multiculturality of Canadian society an important part of her texts?

  1. What is the spirit of Canada? There have been many attempts at defining the concept in literary, cultural, political and geographical discourses, just to mention some of them. Most probably every Canadian citizen or immigrant to this country asked this question at least once in his / her life but foreigners have also been pondering the allure of this country. For some, the spirit of Canada is inscribed in the accomplishments of its citizens and in the values and principles guiding cultural, social, economic, and political institutions. For others, it is the country’s unique geography, landscape, wildlife but also lifestyle (note Kim Bellefontain’s admirationfor Canadian landmarks in ABC of Canada(Jasper National Park and Peggy’s Cove) and Canadian pastimes (the Calgary Stampede, playing hockey and watching the Northern Lights)). The spirit of Canada can also be defined through legends, fiction, poetry, music and visual art of the nation(see Barbara Hehner’s The Spirit of Canada: Canada’s Story in Legends, Fiction, Poems and Songs). How would you illustrate the concept? Write an essay about the spirit of Canada, specify your understanding of the term and choose three signifiers of Canadianness you consider most important for this discussion. Using a variety of sources, you must argue for your choice by showing a distinct character of the three selected aspects of Canadianness responsible for the uniqueness of the country’s spirit.