Remnants of Nation: On Poverty Narratives by Women

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"The Remnants of Nation" is a ground breaking book that introduces a new genre called 'poverty narratives' to study literature and popular culture in the larger context of economic and literary disenfranchisement. While issues of race, gender, and sexuality are now circulating in literary studies and their 'constructedness' is being debated, the relations of class, poverty, and narrative have not been thoroughly examined until now. Here, poverty is treated not simply as a theme in literature but as a force that in fact shapes the texts themselves.

Rimstead adopts the notion of a common culture to include more ordinary voices in national culture, in this case the national culture of Canada. Short stories, novels, autobiographies, and oral histories by Canadian women, including canonized writers such as Gabrielle Roy, Margaret Lawrence, and Alice Munro, are considered in addition to lesser known writers and ordinary women. Drawing on theoretical work from a wide range of disciplines, this book is a deeply radical reflection on how literature, popular culture, and academic discourse construct knowledge about the poor in wealthy countries like Canada and how the poor, in turn, can inform the way we think about nation, community, and national culture itself.

Given the scope of the study, Rimstead's work will appeal not only to literary scholars and Canadian social historians, but to students and instructors of women's studies, cultural studies, and sociology.

Winner of the Gabrielle Roy Prize, English Language, awarded by the Association for Canadian and Québec Literatures

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Editorial Reviews

Rimstead (communications, Univesit<'e> de Sherbrooke) analyzes culture in terms of literary and economic disenfranchisement, thus articulating the concept of the "poverty narrative." Studying the stories, novels, autobiographies, and oral histories produced by Canadian women, she considers how poverty exerts its influence on the text. She then examines how such "poverty narratives" inform ideas of nationality, community, and national culture. Gabrielle Roy, Margaret Laurence, and Alice Munro are among the authors discussed. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802082701
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 6/28/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Roxanne Rimstead is Professor, Departement des Lettres et Communciations, Université de Sherbrooke.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Disturbing Images 3
1 'Fictioning' a Literature 39
1.1 Beyond Literature: Ordinary Voices 40
1.2 Populist Motives 48
1.3 Cultural Critique as Social Therapy 53
1.4 Testimony and Radical Knowledge 57
2 Visits and Homecomings 65
2.1 Susanna Moodie: Poverty and Vice 67
2.2 Nellie McClung: Social Gospel Rescue 72
2.3 Gabrielle Roy: Everyday Struggle as Resistance 77
3 'We Live in a Rickety House': Social Boundaries and Poor Housing 86
3.1 A Genealogy of Poor Houses 93
3.2 Alice Munro's Gaze - from a Distance 104
3.3 Homeplace and 'Bugs' 111
4 Theories and Anti-Theory: On Knowing Poor Women 122
4.1 Anti-Theory, Anti-What? 123
4.2 Subjectivities 126
4.3 Theories of the Classed and Gendered Subject 130
4.4 Understanding as Opposed to Mapping Subjectivities 137
5 Subverting 'Poor Me': Negative Constructions of Identity 143
5.1 Cy-Thea Sand's Cultural Smuggling 145
5.2 Maria Campbell's Halfbreed and Alternative Status-Honour Groups 153
5.3 The Poor as Colonized Subjects 160
5.4 Decolonizing Poor Subjects through Atuobiography 169
6 'Organized Forgetting' 174
6.1 On Autobiographical Memories of Poverty, Class, Gender, and Nation 175
6.2 Poverty as Distant Landscape: Edna Jaques 183
6.3 Class Travelling with Fredelle Bruser Maynard 192
7 'Remnants of Nation' 200
7.1 Poverty and Nation as Reciprocal Constructions 201
7.2 Saving the Nation: The Diviners 205
7.3 Strategies of Containment and Exclusion 226
7.4 Counter-national Testimonies 239
8 The Long View: Contexts of Oppositional Criticism 253
8.1 Cultural Studies as a Site of Resistance 254
8.2 A Toolkit of Theory 260
8.3 Representing the Poor within Academic Discourse 267
Conclusion: Taking a Position 275
App Outlawing Boundaries 287
Bibliography 309
Index 329
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