Shirt and the Happy Man: Theory and Politics in Ethnic Minority Writing
Pivato, Joseph J.
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Ethnic minority writing in Canada was once a neglected field not only by Canadianists promoting a canon for a national literature, but also by theorists who focused on the great works from major European languages as the standards for explaining all the writing of the world. The recent growing interest by both groups in the works of ethnic minority writers in Canada, along with the literary awards some of these new writers have won, has created the need to review the role of theory in the re-evaluation of minority writing. This brief essay raises several questions about the relationship of high theory to ethnic minority writing. Among the topics considered are the instinctive mistrust of theory by some minority writers, the political use of theory to create a space for minority authors, postmodern ideas, intertextuality, and the use of foreign languages in English or French language texts. The issues of resistance to theory and the politics of literary production is placed in the context of the debate over the appropriation of voice, storytelling and realist traditions.