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Walking and Thinking in Toronto, Winnipeg and Sydney in the Twenty-First Century

2013/04/28

varuoAustralia and Canada are among the world’s most highly urbanized countries yet myths of the wilderness and the bush continue to dominate national imaginaries and perhaps especially, to deny indigenous peoples full rights to the city. This paper will engage postcolonial settler urban imaginaries as they are challenged and redefined through texts that reposition the national, the global, and the transcultural through a focus on walkers in two Canadian cities as imagined by Sheila Heti, Dionne Brand and Russell Smith (Toronto in How Should a Person Be?, What We All Long For and Muriella Pent), and Winnipeg (in Marvin Francis’s city treaty: a long poem). These texts each renegotiate what Jane Rule calls “contracts with the world” in the shadow of Canada as a “treaty nation” reimagining the gendered and racialized spaces of the city. These urban imaginaries will be contrasted with those linked to the streets of Sydney, Australia, through a brief comparison of the ways in which Gail Jones’s Five Bells may be seen to revise not only Kenneth Slessor’s canonical poem of the same title but also Christina Stead’s accounts of walkers in the city in Seven Poor Men of Sydney and For Love Alone. In relocating the Australian myth of the lost child from the bush to the city, revisiting Stead’s hymns to the harbour, and revising Slessor’s elegy for a drowned companion, Jones reimagines Sydney as a place where losses must be remembered, where danger still lurks, but also as a place where forgiveness and new beginnings might be possible in a city increasingly seen to be a crossroads for the world. Each text asks what it means to think in these cities, where as city treaty puts it, “we all walk edges uncertain / on border slippery … between bush and city” 28).

The full paper may be read at this link pdf

Image Ryan McGinley, still from Sigur Ros video “Varuo” illustrating Don’t Move to New York @artfcity by Paddy Johnson

http://artfcity.com/2013/04/24/art-f-city-at-the-l-magazine-dont-move-to-new-york/

Preliminary References

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Brand, Dionne. 2005. What We All Long For. Toronto: Vintage.

Callahan, David. “Failing to Meet in the Middle: East Timor and Gail Jones’s ‘Other Places'”. Antipodes. 137. December 2012. 137-142.

Cariou, Warren.”‘How Come these Guns are so Tall’: Anti-corporate Resistance in Marvin Francis’s City Treaty.”

—. “Foreword.” Marvin Francis. Bush Camp.

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Clarke, Stella. “Her Time.” The Australian. January 29, 2011.

Dale, Leigh. (2013): “No More Boomerang? ‘Nigger’s Leap’ and ‘Five Bells’.” Journal of Australian Studies, 37:1, 48-61.

Dixon, Robert. (2013) “Invitation to the voyage: Reading Gail Jones’s Five Bells.” Journal of the Association for Austrralian Literary Studies. (JASAL) 12:3.

www.nta.gov.au/openpublish/index.php/jasal/article/viewFile/…/3320

Florida, Richard. The Rise of the Creative Class; and how it’s transforming work, leisure, community and everyday life. New York: Basic Books: 2002.

Francis, Daniel. 2002. City Treaty: a long poem. Winnipeg: Turnstone.

—. “Description of Proposal.” Daniel Francis Fonds. Archives. University of Manitoba.

Heti, Sheila.2012. How Should a Person Be? Toronto: Anansi

—. “A New Canadian Myth for New Canadian Times.” Response to the Globe and Mail. Post April 15, 2013

http://backtotheworld.net/2013/04/15a-new-canadian-myth-for-new-canadian-times-by-sheila-heti/

Iyer, Pico. The Global Soul.

Jameson, Fredric.1986. “Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism” Social Text 15: 65-88.

Jones, Gail. Five Bells. Sydney: Vintage, 2011; New York: Picador e-book 2012.

Pierce, Peter. The Country of Lost Children: An Australian Anxiety. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Smith, Russell. 2005. Muriella Pent. Toronto: Anchor.

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