Canada in the Americas Initiative, inaugural event: Movement and exchange: Canadian culture in Mexico / Mexican culture in Canada

5 December 2013

The launch featured a panel discussion featuring Pip Day, Director, SBC Gallery, Montreal; Gabriela Gamez, Media producer and activist, Isuma TV, Digital Indigenous Democracy, etc.; Hugh Hazelton, Co-Director, Banff International Literary Translation Centre; Claudia Masferrer Leon, doctoral candidate in Sociology, McGill University; Fernanda Macchi, Associate Professor, Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, McGill University;and Lourdes Morales, postdoctoral fellow, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.

Professor Ana Elena González Treviño, Professor, Facultad de Filosofia y letras at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, gave a special presentation on the topic of Canadian literary presence in Mexico, and Dr. Graciela Martinez-Zalce, Coordinator, Studies in Globalization, Centro de Inverstigaciones sobre América del Norte, National Autonomous University of Mexico, editor of ¿Sentenciados al aburrimiento?: Tópicos de cultura canadiense, delivered a keynote address on Canadian Culture in Mexico.

View photos.

Margaret Atwood in conversation with Sheila Heti

4 December 2013

To celebrate the publication of Atwood's latest novel Maddaddam - the final book in her critically acclaimed and bestselling Dystopian trilogy which began with Oryx & Crake (2003) and continued withThe Year of the Flood (2009) - Librairie Drawn & Quarterly and the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada presented a reading, Q&A and on-stage discussion with the legendary Margaret Atwood!  Joining her in discussion was fellow-Canadian bestselling author and Librairie D+Q favourite, Sheila Heti.

2013 Cundill Prize Ceremony

20 November 2013

The Cundill Prize Awards Ceremony was held at a private event in Toronto.  The $75,000 international prize for historical literature is one of the largest literary prizes in the world, made possible by the generosity of the late Peter Cundill.  Previous winners include Diarmaid MacCulloch, Lisa Jardine, and Sergio Luzzatto.  “Every year, it is an honour and a privilege for the Institute to organize this event, which is truly amongst the most important in our year,” says Straw.  “I am confident that this year’s winning book will be every bit as fascinating as previous Cundill winners.”  In addition to the $75,000 grand prize, two $10,000 “Recognition of Excellence” will be awarded.  This event is one of the few invitation-only events organized by the MISC each year.

For more information on the Cundill Prize, click here.

Seagram Lecture with Malcolm Gladwell

14 November 2013

Celebrated Canadian Author Malcolm Gladwell (What the Dog Saw, Outliers, Blink, the Tipping Point) discussed his latest book, David and Goliath, in the company of CBC Radio's Eleanor Wachtel (Writers and Company).

View photos and a video of the event.

Making Knowledge Public: Engaged Scholarship and the University Press in Canada

13 November 2013

To celebrate the second annual AAUP University Press Week, McGill-Queen’s University Press and the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada held a stimulating roundtable discussion with a Montreal flavour. Attendees learned about three very different facets of the city and its history from MQUP authors Louis Martin, Sherry Olson and Patricia Thornton, and Miranda Campbell, who spoke about the research, ideals, and challenges that shaped their books.

Stories about Storytellers: An Evening with Douglas Gibson

6 November 2013

This free event was held in support of the campaign to endow a Chair in Canadian-Scottish Studies at McGill University. It was sponsored by the St. Andrew’s Society of Montreal, the Canadian-Scottish Studies Fundraising Committee and McGill University’s Faculty of Arts.

Cundill Lecture: Imperial Eclipse: The Long Road to the First Anglo-Chinese War  by the 2012 Cundill Prize Winner, Stephen R. Platt

21 October 2013

The Opium War, or First Anglo-Chinese War, of 1839-1842 has long served historians as the chosen starting point for China’s modern history, the launching point of its “century of humiliation” from which successive governments have promised redemption. But such treatment sets the war in stone, as if  China’s military weakness and Britain’s predatory aggression in Canton were eternal and unchanging facts. If, instead, we view the Opium War not as a starting-point but as an ending, as the culmination of global forces decades in the making, we can find that a different sort of story emerges.

This lecture traced a broad sweep of the history of China and its foreign contacts, from the 1790s to the 1830s, to plot the Qing dynasty’s struggle against growing internal threats to its control – massive sectarian uprisings and bureaucratic corruption chief among them – against Britain’s rising naval power and the shifting nature of foreign trade at Canton. Such a perspective helped us to escape the illusion of the war’s inevitability and explore instead how the Qing dynasty – which began this period as one of the most powerful and admired empires in the world – came to be sufficiently weakened (and  Britain sufficiently emboldened) that such a lopsided war, widely condemned at the time as immoral, could have been fought in the first place.

View photos of the lecture.

All Night Long: A Roundtable Discussion on Night and Cultural Neighbourhoods in Montreal, part of Pop Montreal Symposium

26 September 2013

MISC Director Will Straw  participated in a roundtable discussion with Simon Brault, president of Culture Montreal, Bernie Houde, of Lesbians on Ecstasy, and owner of Alexanderplatz and Le Pick-Up, and Laurent Saulnier, VP of Nuit Blanche de Montreal. The discussion and question period was moderated by Patricia Boushel.

Book Launch for Denise Chong's Lives of the Family

19 September 2013

Many thanks to all who came out to our event celebrating MISC Board of Trustees Co-Chair Denise Chong's latest book, Lives of the Family: Stories of Fate and Circumstance! Participants were honoured with a reading of an excerpt of the book.

View photos.

Does bilingualism have a future in Canada? /  Le bilinguisme a-t-il un avenir au Canada?

1 May 2013

The MISC was pleased to host this public event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, held in partnership with the University of Ottawa and the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. While there were several simlar events held across Canada acknowledging the anniversary of the Commission, most of them looked back at its history.  Our event looked forward, asking, “Does bilingualism have a future in Canada?”. Participants included Warren Allmand, Fabienne Colas, Pierre Curzi, Ellen Gabriel, Graham Fraser, Catherine Leclerc, Sherry Simon, Bernard St-Laurent and The Honourable Stéphane Dion.

L'IÉCM a eu le plaisir d'accueillir cet événement public marquant le 50e anniversaire du lancement de la Commission royale d’enquête sur le bilinguisme et le biculturalisme, organisé en partenariat avec l'Université d'Ottawa et le Commissariat aux langues officielles. Il y a eu plusieurs événements d’un bout à l’autre du Canada pour  marquer l’anniversaire de la Commission d’enquête, la plupart d’entre eux ont présenté une rétrospective historique. Le nôtre a regardé en avant en posant la question:  « Le bilinguisme a-t-il un avenir au Canada? ». Les participants incluaient Warren Allmand, Fabienne Colas, Pierre Curzi, Ellen Gabriel, Graham Fraser, Catherine Leclerc, Sherry Simon, et Bernard St-Laurent.

Watch the video and view photos.

Borderlands and Moral Frontiers: Canada and the United States

April 2013

MISC Director Will Straw delivered the first-ever Pascale Franco Yale-McGill Lecture in Canadian Studies.

Bills of Rights in the Common Law, a talk by Professor Robert Leckey

27 March 2013

Much debate about the legitimacy of judicial review under the Canadian Charter or another Bill of Rights has been abstract and disconnected from legal practice. The research presented in this talk aims to integrate on-the-ground sensitivity to legal and professional practice, including judges’ traditional role in the common law, into philosophical and political debates about what judges do in rights cases.

Eakin Lecture: Opportunity Cost: Lessons for Canada’s political future from its environmental past by Professor Claire Campbell

25 March 2013

The state of the environment is central to Canadian Studies: our territory, our politics, and our place in the international community. But the environment requires an historical perspective. Canada is the product of centuries of people responding to environmental opportunities, but in 2013 we also need to recognize the costs of this pattern and so the limits of Canada as we have historically imagined it. And one of the best places to approach this connection between past and present is in Atlantic Canada, which holds some of the oldest stories of environmental change and the most pressing need for innovations. (Based on the extent of its coastline as well as its environmental economy, Quebec would do well to think of itself, again, as an Atlantic entity).  This talk explored the past and present of four issues – climate change, marine harvests, commercial agriculture, and fossil fuels – for what these tell us about the shape of Canadian political life.

Mallory Lecture: Landscape and Canadian political destiny: does the territory even matter?  by Noah Richler

21 March 2013

Noah Richler considered the effect of place upon the Canadian sense of self and the domestic and foreign policies that ensue from how, in its light, we choose to conceive of the country's position in the world. He asked to what extent, if at all, the land actually matters, but also what solutions and guidance we may find in the lessons that it offers.

Noah Richler's first book, This Is My Country, What’s Yours? A Literary Atlas of Canada (McClelland & Stewart, 2006), won the 2007 British Columbia Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, was nominated for the 2006 Nereus Writer’s Trust Non-Fiction Prize and, among many plaudits, chosen as one of Canada’s Top Ten Books of the Decade by Macleans.ca. His most recent book, What We Talk About When We Talk About War (Goose Lane Editions, 2012), was long-listed for the Charles Taylor Award, shortlisted for the Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing and a finalist for the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction.

A Tale of Two Futures: Saskatchewan in 1905 and 2005, A Talk With Professor Bill Waiser

March 14, 2013

Professor Bill Waiser examined how and why the so-called new Saskatchewan is fundamentally different from the province that entered confederation in 1905.  The lecture also debunked many stereoptypes about Saskatchewan today, while discussing the challenges that the province will face in the coming decades. Bill Waiser is Professor of History and A.S. Morton Distinguished Research Chair at the University of Saskatchewan.  The author of more than a dozen books, Bill has been awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and granted a D.Litt.

View photos.

Fulbright Lecture: From From Forests to Newsstands: The Canadian Origins of the American Newspaper by Professor Michael Stamm

March 13, 2013

This lecture connected two histories of the past century: the evolution of the American newspaper as an industrial commodity and the development of the trade policies structuring the modern North American economy. To weave these stories into a braided narrative, Stamm exploreed the Chicago Tribune’s Canadian papermaking operations, which began in 1913 when the United States government lifted the duty on newsprint produced in Canada.  Favorable tariff policy helped the Tribune become one of the most influential newspapers in the U.S., and the corporate exploitation of Canadian forests in turn spurred the development of one of Canada’s most important staple industries.

View photos and watch the video.

Trans(national)plants: Frances Jones Bannerman’s In the Conservatory, Victorian thing culture, and the nineteenth-century British Atlantic - Presented by Samantha Burton, Course lecturer in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill

January 24, 2013

Nova Scotia painter and poet Frances Jones Bannerman’s 1883 In the Conservatory marks a number of Canadian art history firsts. Depicting the plant conservatory of the artist’s Halifax family home, the painting was the first recognizably Canadian subject exhibited at the Paris Salon. An homage to Édouard Manet, In the Conservatory was also the first major Canadian experiment with Impressionism, a movement that did not make firm inroads into the country until the 1890s. Finally, the painting’s creator was the first woman elected an Associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1882, an acknowledgment of the international career of an artist who, by sending canvases like In the Conservatory back and forth across the Atlantic, acted as a valuable link between the art worlds of Europe and North America.

The painting itself speaks to these transnational links, although this reading is enabled not through an examination of the human subject in the image, but of the things that surround her. Namely, the plants and flowers that seem on first glance to reinforce the delicate sequestered femininity of the figure are, in fact, tropical varieties imported from the Caribbean to nineteenth-century Nova Scotia. When viewed in the specific colonial context in which the painting was produced and in which it circulated, Jones’s canvas re-appears as a representation of a hybrid space directly linked to the politics and economics of empire. By situating In the Conservatory within the wider political, economic, and cultural networks that spanned the nineteenth-century British Atlantic, Berton pushes beyond the now well-established framework of white feminist art history, which has overwhelmingly tended to shy away from questions of race and empire. In drawing connections between Britain, Canada, and the Caribbean, her work also extends recent critical moves to expand the geographic and conceptual disciplinary boundaries of Canadian and British art history. The things in Jones’s image speak to a much more complex set of transnational links than for which traditional feminist and nationalist art history narratives generally allow, and ultimately suggest an approach to art history that better reflects nineteenth-century understandings of empire, race, and visual culture.

Back to top