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 Featured Title
On the Art of Being Canadian
Sherrill Grace  

$87.00 Hardcover
Release Date: 10/1/2009
ISBN: 978-0-7748-1578-9    

$34.95 Paperback
Release Date: 3/15/2010
ISBN: 9780774815796    

224 Pages

Brenda and David McLean Canadian Studies series


About the Book

When Vincent Massey, Canada’s first native-born governor general, wrote On Being Canadian in 1948, he acknowledged the importance of the arts to education and the production of good Canadian citizens. What he did not consider was what the arts and artists can tell us about being Canadian or about being ourselves.

In On the Art of Being Canadian Sherrill Grace begins with the premise that the arts have shaped and continue to inform Canadian identity. Drawing upon a wealth of artistic expression that spans over a century of painting, fiction, poetry, drama, and film, she then traces how the arts and artists have contributed to three fields of representation, or themes, that are staples in Canadian culture, commemoration, and myth making – the North, war, and iconic national figures such as Louis Riel, Emily Carr, Tom Thomson, and Mina Hubbard.

By telling stories in their chosen medium and genre about life here or about events and figures from the past, she shows that artists help us to understand the Canadian landscape and to create a shared history. All students of Canada, whether at home or abroad, will find much to savour, enjoy, and reflect on in this beautifully illustrated volume.

About the Author(s)

Sherrill Grace is Professor of English at the University of British Columbia. The author of more than twenty books, she was awarded the Canada Council Killam Prize in Humanities in 2008. Her most recent book is the biography Making Theatre: A Life of Sharon Pollock.

Table of Contents


Introduction: On Being Canadian

1. Creating a Northern Nation
2. Theatres of War: Battle Fronts and Home Fronts
3. Inventing Iconic Figures

Epilogue: Listening for the Heartbeat of a Country



"On the Art of Being Canadian is a stimulating and often challenging work of great intellectual depth, which is a great pleasure to read.
- Martin Loschnigg, Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies, Vol. 22.1 (March 2011)

Rather than re-visiting the old conundrum of "What is a Canadian?" Sherrill Grace asks the infinitely more complex and compelling question, "What is the process of being Canadian?"... This passionate and evocative study teaches us how to enjoy the cold, how to vanish, and how to celebrate our elusive state of "being" in the magnificent imaginative construct we call Canada.
-- Aritha van Herk

Through the prisms of space (the North), time (the Wars), and people (our National Icons), Sherrill Grace brilliantly and compellingly demonstrates that Canadian art has not only reflected but has also created the Canadian experience. On the Art of Being Canadian is an accessible and powerful articulation of Sherrill Grace’s commanding interdisciplinary understanding of Canada.
-- Christl Verduyn

Sample Chapter

Download Front Matter and Chapter One (PDF)

Related Topics

History > Canada
Cultural Studies

Other Ways To Order

In Canada, order your copy of On the Art of Being Canadian from UTP Distribution at:

UTP Distribution
5201 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3H 5T8

Phone orders: 1(800)565-9523 or (416)667-7791
Fax orders: 1(800)221-9985 or (416)667-7832

Ordering information for customers outside Canada

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