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Palgrave Macmillan

Canadian Historical Writing

Reading the Remains

ISBN 9781137398888
Publication Date June 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Presenting an archaeology of contemporary Canadian literature, Canadian Historical Writing: Reading the Remains situates ideas of history circulating in literary culture within the theory and practice of historiography. Drawing on international debates within the fields of literary studies and history, the book focuses on the roles played by time, evidence, and interpretation in defining the historical. Renée Hulan analyzes this aesthetic form using case studies of Timothy Findley's Famous Last Words, Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace, and Armand Garnet Ruffo's Grey Owl: The Mystery of Archie Belaney.

Renée Hulan is the Chair of the Department of English at Saint Mary's University, Canada. She is the author of Northern Experience and the Myths of Canadian Culture, editor of Native North America: Critical and Cultural Perspectives, and co-editor with Renate Eigenbrod of Aboriginal Oral Traditions: Theory, Practice, Ethics.


1. From Romance to Revision: Historical Writing in Canada

2. Timothy Findley and the Burdens of Metahistory

3. Margaret Atwood in Search of Things Past

4. Armand Garnet Ruffo and the Persistence of Memory

5. Epilogue


"A very timely and welcome contribution to current discussions about the representation of Canadian history. Hulan lucidly integrates theoretical and material aspects of archival research. Her analysis of writers' uses of textual and oral records and their creation of fictional documents, alongside close examination of the writers' own archives, casts fresh light on the different strategies developed by a wide range of late twentieth-century literary authors to narrate the past." - Carole Gerson, Professor of English, Simon Fraser University, Canada
"Hulan practices deeply what should be the first rule of all interdisciplinary scholarship: respect the disciplines we make contact with. Hulan ponders the odd presentism of literary scholarship about historical fiction and its lack of interest in the responses of contemporary historians after Hayden White. In this book, she remedies both deficits and produces a study that changes the conversation about the 'historical turn' in Canadian fiction." - Lorraine York, Professor of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University, Canada
"Impressively researched and firmly grounded in a sophisticated understanding of the dramatic shifts in historiography and historical fiction over the last four decades, Hulan challenges literary critics in Canada and elsewhere to see historical fiction through new eyes by paying greater attention to the process of 'reading the remains.' Through extended investigations of the work of Margaret Atwood, Timothy Findley, and Armand Garnet Ruffo, Hulan restyles critical interpretation of historical fiction as a materialist enterprise and offers a timely call for a broader grounding in theories of history and for a more informed and nuanced critical practice." - Herb Wyile, Acadia University, Canada, author of Speculative Fictions: Contemporary Canadian Novelists and the Writing of History
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