Because, let’s face it – who has time to catch up on all the journal articles published in Canadian history?
Welcome back to the Best New Articles series, where each month, I post a list of my favourite new articles! Don’t forget to also check out my favourites from previous months, which you can access by clicking here.
This month I read articles from:
- Canadian Journal of History 52, no. 2 (Fall 2017)
- Canadian Ethnic Studies 49, no. 1 (2017)
- Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 27, no. 1 (2016)
- Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 27, no. 2 (2016)
- BC Studies 149 (Summer 2017)
- Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française 70, no. 4 (Spring 2017)
Here are my favourites:
Matthew Hayday, “Brought To Your by the Letters C, R, T, and C: Sesame Street and Canadian Nationalism,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 27, no. 1 (2016): 93-137.
Author’s Twitter: @mhayday
What it’s about: This article considers how Canadian broadcasters and CRTC representatives handled the introduction of Sesame Street on Canadian television. While the program was exceptionally popular among parents, children, educators, and others, it violated the Canadian content quotas that had recently been established by the CRTC. The public debates, negotiations, and ultimate compromises illustrate a great deal about the relationship between Canadian and American cultures and the malleability of 1970s and contemporary Canadian identity.
What I loved: Come on, it’s about Sesame Street. That alone makes it worth reading, but this article is also an excellent example of the contradictory and inconsistent nature of Canadian nationalism. It also illustrates the tension between the desire to reinforce Canadian identity and the desire to participate in American popular culture. As anyone who has ever complained about the lack of Superbowl commercials in Canada knows, this is a struggle that continues. I will say, I do not remember any of those Canadian segments from when I was a kid. But there are tons of neat examples on Youtube if you’d like to check them out.
Favourite quote: “Morton claimed that he had “interviewed a number of young ladies who had seen the program and who said they were going to conceive children as soon as possible so that their children could watch Sesame.” P. 109
Suggested uses: This would be a great article to use in any course that deals with postwar Canada! I know I will certainly be using it the next time I do a class on Canadian nationalism, though I haven’t decided if I should give this article as a reading, or use it for a lecture. Decisions, decisions….
Victoria Jackson, “Silent Diplomacy: Wendat Boys’ ‘Adoptions’ at the Jesuits Seminary 1636-1642,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 27, no. 1 (2016): 139-168.
What it’s about: This article explores the experiences of three Wendat boys/young men who attended the all-boys seminary school established by the Jesuits in 1636. Relying primarily upon the Jesuit Relations for source material, Jackson argues that while Wendat community leaders agreed to send some children to the school, they did so because they were operating under an existing cultural model of diplomatic adoption, whereby the children of leaders would be exchanged and temporarily adopted by another community. For their own part, the boys/young men who participated in this exchange did so of their own choice and for their own personal reasons. In learning about and performing “Frenchness,” they served as “silent diplomats” for their peoples, in hopes of facilitating better relations.
What I loved: This was an absolutely fascinating article to read. But what stood out most, for me at least, was the emphasis on the agency and resilience of the boys/young men who attended the seminary. Further, I really appreciated how Jackson situated this exchange within existing Wendat cultural traditions, while also emphasizing the political and diplomatic savvy of Wendat community leaders within their own communities, within their nations, and with the French.
Favourite quote(s): “The boys were performing Frenchness at the seminary, and the Jesuits’ instruction seemed to indicate that the priests also understood the boys’ integration as a temporary, but hopefully fruitful, adoption. “ p. 149
Suggested uses: This article will be useful to anyone who studies or teaches Indigenous history in Canada, the history of contact and exchange, political and diplomatic history, and the history of New France. Additionally, I can see this article being used in a pre-Confederation course to help explain Indigenous agency and responses to conversion and colonialism.
Carolyn Podruchny, “Le grand voyage de la tortue qui désirait voler. Motifs oraux, échanges culturels et histoires transfrontalières dans la traite des fourrures,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 27, no. 1 (2016): 231-262.
Author’s Twitter: @carpod
What it’s about: In this article, Carolyn Podruchny traces the origins of a Anishinaabe sacred story where cultural hero, Nene-bush, is carried through the air by hanging on to a pole carried by a goose on each end. She points to similar stories about an individual being carried on a stick between two birds that existed in France (1700 to 1800 C.E.), Ancient Persia (750 to 1120 C.E.), and the Indian sub-continent (300 B.C.E. to 500 C.E.). She argues that there were no precedents in Anishinaabe culture prior to the middle of the 18th century, and that the specific nature of the image suggests that the story travelled westward across the globe, and was brought to the Anishinaabe by French fur traders.
What I loved: Before I say anything more, I do want to note here that I do not feel qualified to evaluate the validity of this argument. However, as someone who has always had an interest in mythology (as a child, when asked what i wanted to be, I would answer: a mythologist) and has studied mythology to a limited extent, I thought this was a fascinating and compelling article. I think Podruchny makes, at the very least, a persuasive case here, and I would be interested to hear from scholars who are more knowledgeable in this area about the validity of the argument. Also, I really hope she releases this article in English!
Favourite quote: “Dans ses diverses versions, la morale au centre de cette histoire est que, dans certaines situations, il est absolument essentiel de se taire.” (In its many variations, the moral at the centre of this story is always: know when to shut up.) p. 233.
Suggested uses: This article will be of interest to anyone who is interested in stories, cultural traditions, and mythology.
Tina Adcock, Keith Grant, Stacy Nation-Knapper, Beth Robertson, and Corey Slumkoski, “Canadian History Blogging: Reflections at the Intersections of Digital Storytelling, Academic Research, and Public Outreach,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 27, no. 2 (2016).
What it’s about: The editors of five of the largest collaborative Canadian history blogs talk about their experiences and how the field of Canadian history is changing as a result. They address how blogs are increasingly responding to many of the challenges facing the field of Canadian history, namely connecting with the public and other educators, responding quickly to current events, and acting as a vehicle for amplifying the work of marginalized scholars. They also address many of the current problems that still need to be solved, such as the fact that these blogs are usually the result of unpaid labour, how they relate to scholarly publications, and how blogging fits within the current academic work paradigm (scholarship and service).
What I loved: Ok, a couple of caveats here. First, I’ve known for a while that this article was in the works and I was super excited to see it. Second, I know many of the writers personally. And third, they kindly mentioned Unwritten Histories as an “important single-author blog” (!!!) in the footnotes. That said, I still highly recommend this article because it addresses many of the fundamental questions that Canadian history bloggers are faced with, while also arguing persuasively for the advantages of this format.
Favourite quote: “As the editors at Borealia like to tell their contributors, if the blog were a restaurant, it would be casual fine dining: professional, energetic, and accessible.”
Suggested uses: I think this will be of interest to any Canadian historian (or anyone else for that matter) who reads history blogs.
- Isabel Campbell, “Exemplary Canadians? How Two Canadian Women Remember Their Roles in a Cold War Military Family,”Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 27, no 1 (2016): 61–93.
- For this sentence alone: “Dad always told me I could never leave unless he said I could. So I got a 2 cent stamp. And I wrote a letter to Prime Minister Mackenzie King and asked him what I could do. And I got an answer back from him. He said once you’re 18, you don’t need your Dad’s permission. You can leave and so I went. “ p. 71
- Margaret Scaia, “Becoming a Nurse in Vancouver and Calgary: Women, Work, Motherhood, 1958 to 1976,” BC Studies no. 194 (Summer 2017): 91-118.
- A fascinating oral history of nursing.
- Hildegard Westerkamp, “The Natural Complexities of Environmental Listening: One Soundwalk – Multiple Responses,” BC Studies no. 194 (Summer 2017): 149-162.
- Fantastic exploration of soundwalks as pedagogical tools. I totally want to do this.
Did you miss me? 😉 I always look forward to the latest issue of the JCHA, and this year it certainly did not disappoint! I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you did, please consider sharing it on the social media platform of your choice! And don’t forget to check back on Friday for our regular Upcoming Publications post, which this month combines August and September. Omg, first week back and I’m already doing an extra post? Will wonders never cease. 😉 See you then!