128 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Jun 1998
Release Date:01 Jun 1998


How We Talk About Canada

UBC Press

Under the general title of Borderlands, the three relatedessays in this monograph address the rhetoric of border/boundary inCanadian studies and its social, political, and cultural implications,the character of cultural responses to Canada-US border tensions, andtwo specific examples of how border transgressions continue to affectcurrent Washington State and British Columbia cultural expression.

A number of motifs appear throughout these essays, including thepolitics of separation, the persistence of racist discourse in NorthAmerica (and of attempts to counter it), the role of education ininforming public debate, the existence of communally-held social valuesin Canada, the necessity of the arts, the power of language, and therelation between social choice and indeterminacy.

The first essay, 'Giddy Limits,' ranges the most widely,drawing on examples from history and literature, geography and popularculture. It elucidates the politics of various recurrent rhetoricalstrategies in Canadian cultural commentary. The second essay, 'TheEdge of Everything,' pursues a series of specific applications of'border rhetoric' (including irony, national policies, andoppositional strategies) to Canada-US relations. The third essay,'The Centre of Somewhere Else,' looks in part at the rhetoricof two contemporary writers (Seattle's David Guterson andVictoria's Jack Hodgins) in relation to the 1859 Pig War and tocurricular reform. This final essay demonstrates further how the largeissues raised in the first two essays resonate both in historicalnarrative and in contemporary social and cultural practice.


  • 1998, Winner - Alcuin Citation for excellence in book design in Canada, Alcuin Society
  • 2000, Winner - Bronze Medal, Leipzig International Book Art Competition for best designed book
Within the borderlands that separate and join Canadians and Americans, the Canadian search for difference goes on. Jeffrey Simpson, The Globe and Mail
What New has to say is important since he recasts the issues of national identity in a post-modernist fin de siècle ambiguity... New acknowledges new issues that have fundamentally challenged national boundaries, such as the multinational corporation, multiculturalism, and aboriginal identity. Anthony W. Rasporich, Western Historical Quarterly
... it would be a shame if New’s thoughtful and thought-provoking volume were overlooked because Borderlands is one of those rare books that work on many carefully layered levels: literary, poetic, philosophical and political. ... a rich tapestry. Georgia Straight, October 15-22, 1998
W.H. (Bill) New is University Killam ProfessorEmeritus at the University of British Columbia where he was in theEnglish department from 1965 to 2003. He was also the editor ofthe well-known journal Canadian Literature for eighteen years.He has published several critical works and books of poetry,four books for children, and has been a co-editor onnumerous collections and anthologies. Among many honours, hewas named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006 andpresented with the Governor General's Award for Canadian Studies in2004.

1. Giddy Limits: Canadian Studies and Other Metaphors

2. The Edge of Everything: Canadian Culture and the Border Field

3. The Centre of Somewhere Else: The Pig War and English 91

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