Imagining Care: Responsibility, Dependency, and Canadian Literature

Imagining Care: Responsibility, Dependency, and Canadian Literature

by Amelia DeFalco


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Imagining Care brings literature and philosophy into dialogue by examining caregiving in literature by contemporary Canadian writers alongside ethics of care philosophy. Through close readings of fiction and memoirs by Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Michael Ignatieff, Ian Brown, and David Chariandy, Amelia DeFalco argues that these narratives expose the tangled particularities of relations of care, dependency, and responsibility, as well as issues of marginalisation on the basis of gender, race, and class.

DeFalco complicates the myth of Canada as an unwaveringly caring nation that is characterized by equality and compassion. Caregiving is unpredictable: one person’s altruism can be another’s narcissism; one’s compassion, another’s condescension or even cruelty. In a country that conceives of itself as a caring society, these texts depict in stark terms the ethical dilemmas that arise from our attempts to respond to the needs of others.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442637030
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Publication date: 03/18/2016
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 6.29(w) x 9.39(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Amelia DeFalco is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University and the author of Uncanny Subjects: Aging in Contemporary Narrative. In 2009 she received the Polanyi Prize for literature from the Government of Ontario.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Literature, Care, and Canada

Chapter 1. Embedded and Embodied: Caregiving, Life Writing and the Myth of the Autonomous Individual

Chapter 2. Moral Obligation, Disordered Care: The Ethics of Caregiving in Margaret Atwood’s Moral Disorder

Chapter 3. Caring for Relative Others: Alterity and Narrative in Michael Ignatieff’s Scar Tissue

Chapter 4. “Parodies of Love”: Demands of Care in Alice Munro

Chapter 5. Caregiving and Caretaking: Affective Economies in Alice Munro

Chapter 6. Forgetting and the Forgotten: Care at the Margins in David Chariandy’s Soucouyant

Conclusion: Imagining The Future of Care

What People are Saying About This

Susan M. Squier

Imagining Care makes a powerful case for the uses of literature to illuminate the complexities of caregiving.”

Sally Chivers

“Delving deeply into what Canadian literature teaches us about obligation and love, Amelia DeFalco illuminates the ethical dimensions of care among family and friends. Canadians like to think that how we care distinguishes us from those who live in the U.S. But DeFalco, pointing to the devastating effects of neoliberalism, suggests that the distinction lies more in how our literature interrogates care than in our actions and policies.”

Margery Fee

Imagining Care sits at the nexus of moral philosophy, literary narrative, and pragmatic care manuals in a way that will be helpful not only to literary scholars, but also to readers interested in care as an ethical issue. DeFalco reads carefully and writes beautifully.”

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