Splitting Images:
Contemporary Canadian Ironies.

Oxford University Press, 1991.
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Splitting Images :
Contemporary Canadian Ironies.

Starting from the premise that Canadian culture offers particularly fertile ground for the cultivating of “doubleness”, this book explores the numerous forms of irony observable in Canadian literature and visual arts, especially in the 1980s. What if Canadians made a virtue of their legendary fascination with compromise, with their fence-sitting, bet-hedging sense of the difficulty of defining Canadian-ness? What if they called that virtue irony?

This study looks at one specific kind of irony: the oppositional or political kind that's oriented around such difficult issues as race, ethnicity, gender, class, age, nationality, and sexual preference. Some would call this postmodern, or post-colonial, or feminist political irony. However we label it, it pushes at the edges of Canadian social and cultural expectations. The ironic splitting images of contemporary Canadian visual art and poetry form the special focus of this study.

Table of Contents


Chapter One:
Introduction—As Canadian as... Possible... Under the Circumstances

Chapter Two:
‘The Canadian Mosaic: A Melting Pot on Ice': The Ironies of Ethnicity and Race

Chapter Three:
‘Circling the Downspout of Empire': Post-colonial and Postmodern Ironies

Chapter Four:
Women's Work: Feminist Ironic Challenges

Chapter Five:
Glance Askance: Visual Ironies
I: Camera Ironica: Canadian Photography
II: Running in Packs: Collective Ironies

Chapter Six:
Conclusion—‘A Lightness of Thoughtfulness': The Power of Postmodern Irony