At the Ernest Buckler event in June, Alex MacLeod made reference to the work of Herb Wyile, who was a Professor at Acadia University. Wyile had organized with Jeanette Lynes a conference in 2004 ‘Surf’s Up ! The Rising Tide of Atlantic-Canadian Literature’. This book is the result. From Wyile:
“As suggested by the title of the book “Anne of Tim Hortons: Globalization and the Reshaping of Atlantic Canadian literature, a young girl in Eastern Canada is less likely to be found in a quaint, gabled farmhouse than in an internationally successful chain doughnut store that is a ubiquitous presence through the region and indeed serves, in so many towns and villages, as the de facto community centre.”
And further, “Rather than a haven from the consumerizing corporations and global competition that characterizes our current milieu, Atlantic Canada has been palpably affected by these very trends, as recent writing in the region has underscored”.p.1
In his Introduction, Wyile provides the context with sections on Atlantic Canada: the making of a region; Neoliberalism, Globalization and Restructuring; Atlantic-Canada literature and the Paradigm of Folk. As someone interested in the stories that we tell about ourselves, it is challenging to see the reviews from this neoliberal critical perspective. There is a strong underlying appreciation of both ‘geography’ and our ‘sense of place’. Hence my interest.
What is neoliberalism ? From Thom Workman “neoliberalism has become the everyday wisdom that guides most discussions about public policy across the country. Its alluring language of efficiency, responsible state spending, flexibility and free markets have been absorbed effortlessly into the intellectual horizons of politicians, academics, bureaucrats and, indeed, even many on the left.” (2003)
The book is divided into three sections. Each section reviews the work of different Atlantic Canada writers.
Section 1: I’se the B’y that leaves the boats: the changing world of work.
- Donna Morrissey. Everybody Knew.
- Bernice Morgan. Waiting for Time.
- Kenneth Harvey, The Town that forgot how to Breathe.
Mining and Offshore Oil
- Alistair MacLeod. No Great Mischief.
- Leo McKay Jr. Twenty Six.
- Lisa Moore. February.
- Sheree Fitch. Civil Servant
- Wendy Lill. Corker
- Edward Riche. The Nine Planets
Section 2: About as far from Disneyland as you can possibly get. The Reshaping of Culture. Under the heading of a simpler and more colourful way of life, there are reviews of the writing of indigenous, black and women writers including Rita Joe, George Elliott Clarke, Lynn Coady, Sheree Fitch, MT Dohaney and Wendy Lill.
Under the heading ‘Rebuffing the Gaze. the growing role of tourism in an economically vulnerable region, there are reviews of the works.
- Lynn Coady. Strange Heaven
- Charlie Rhindress. The Maritime Way of Life
- Edward Riche. Rare Birds
- Frank Barry. Wreckhouse.
Finally, Section 3 The Age of Sale: History, Globalization and Commodification is mainly reviews of the books by Newfoundland writers
- Wayne Johnston. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
- Michael Crummy. River Thieves
- Bernice Morgan. Random Passage.
- Michael Winter. The Big Why
Plus A Place that didn’t count any more: the Maritimes.
A review of Harry Thurston’s ‘A Ship Portrait’ and George Elliott Clarke’s ‘George and Rue’ and the ‘Execution Poems’.
In his conclusion, Wyile brings it together.
“One of the key achievements of recent Atlantic-Canadian literature is its demonstration that the region is a place that continues to matter, but not just to those who, one way or another, belong to it. It also matters in a broader sense because its perilous fortunes put to the test, in a neoliberal climate in which traditional loyalties to place are being vigorously and strategically eroded, our willingness to resist the redefinition of place in such limited – and largely financial – terms.” p.247.
As you can tell this is a densely packed, and intellectually demanding book. For the reader, I have tried to identify the writers and the book reviews. The interesting aspect for me is the inclusion of ‘geography’ in the analysis. This begins with work of Edward Soja and David Harvey on neoliberalism, and ends with Ian McKay on the Folk paradigm and Jim Overton on Tourism.
It is a complicated story. We still see exploitation of our natural resources: fisheries, forestry, mining. We see the continued focus on tourism. There are alternatives to the neoliberal climate: other approaches to agriculture, forestry, tourism.
What is the impact of the changing technologies? What is the importance of community ?
This weekend, there will be the tenth Thomas Randall symposium, celebrating Dr. Herb Wyile 1961-2016, at Acadia University, Thoughts from the Eastern Edge.
Thanks to Edward Wedler. He is always willing to create a relevant graphic composition.
Ian McKay. 1994. The Quest of the Folk: Antimodernism and Cultural Selection in Twentieth Century Nova Scotia. Montreal: McGill Queens University Press.
James Overton. 1996. Making a World of Difference: Essays on TourismCulture and Development in Newfoundland. St Johns: ISER.
T. Workman. 2003. Social Torment; Globalization in Atlantic Canada. Halifax; Fernwood.
H. Wyile. 2011. Anne of Tim Hortons. Globalization and the Reshaping of Atlantic-Canadian Literature. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.