Centre for Research in Young People's Texts and Cultures

Young Canada: The Represented Child in Canadian Fiction in English

CRYTC Affiliate: Benjamin Lefebvre

Based loosely on my doctoral dissertation, this book focuses on a range of Canadian novels and short stories that feature child protagonists but target adult readers and that were published in the sixty-five-year period following the establishment of the Citizenship Act of 1946. These texts transform the notion of childhood innocence into a form of dramatic irony, highlighting the discrepancy between the stated rights and responsibilities encoded in the legal definitions of “Canadian citizen” and the relative powerlessness experienced by fictional characters aged twelve and under. As emerging citizens of the nation by virtue of their age, these characters offer readers a skewed perspective on the boundaries and taboos that surrounding adult characters have internalized as normative, for the benefit of readers who have left childhood behind. The authors whose work forms the basis of this study include André Alexis, Margaret Atwood, Morley Callaghan, David Chariandy, Emma Donoghue, Timothy Findley, Hiromi Goto, Tomson Highway, Joy Kogawa, Margaret Laurence, John Marlyn, W.O. Mitchell, Beatrice Culleton Mosionier, Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler, and Miriam Toews.