October 15

ELA 30: Oct 15 “We Have to Sit Opposite” – discussion of Canadian personalities…

  1. Students were reminded that the date to present their multi-media poetry analysis projects is on Thursday. They were asked to consider in advance how to access their file from the overhead projector cart in the classroom. I will try to have the cart set up in the classroom on Wednesday for students to try their files in advance to ensure they will work.
  2. We reviewed the topic of our last discussion for Micheal’s benefit since he was away. It was also an easy way to get back into the mindset of that discussion to continue with it today. We began reading a short story titled “We Have to Sit Opposite” that follows the travels of two prim and proper Canadian women who end up trapped in a railway cabin with an aggressive German man and his doting wife and obedience daughter. In order to understand the awkwardness of the situation narrated by the story, we set up desks at the front of the classroom and five students volunteered to read the parts of the characters. They did a pretty wonderful job and made the story much more interesting.
  3. Once we had finished, we read through the questions orally and discussed them. The lasting questions I wanted the students to consider were these:
    1. Is the idea of a meak, mild-mannered, and extremely pleasant Canadian a reality or simply an idea created and continued by Canadian literature?
    2. Does Canadian culture and personality exist without us pointint it out in literature and discussing it?
  4. Students were ultimately left with one question to consider for themselves and come to class next class with a reasoned answered. They were asked to consider it like the “chicken-egg” problem – which came first? The same can be asked of Canadian culture – did the culture exist before the literature or did the literature exist before the culture. They weren’t so sure of their responses. I am excited to hear what they have to say next class.

Posted October 15, 2007 by Waldner in category ELA 30

13 thoughts on “ELA 30: Oct 15 “We Have to Sit Opposite” – discussion of Canadian personalities…

  1. Lindsey

    In my opinion the culture came before the literature because in order for literature to be written it must have something to base its story and theory on. The people of Canada moved here with a personality and a set of beliefs. They came already knowing who they are and knowing why they were here. These people were from different countries, different backgrounds and different religions but all joined the country of Canada and became citizens of this one great nation. After joining, the people remained who they were but adapted some of the ways of the new Canadian living style. Together all of these different people created one united nation living on one land. Therefore it is impossible to say that the literature created the culture because the culture was created when the first people lived here, each indiviual, but on common gound. The literature simply steriotyped the people of Canada, placing them all under the same personality category and giving them all the same title.

  2. Crystal Von Grad

    My opinion on that matter, “Did Canadian culture come before the literature or did the literature create the culture?”, is simple. I believe that our unique Canadian culture was created first and then poets and intellectuals became interested in writing about it. Our culture started a long, long time ago, when the first people came to Canada and began with their rituals. I do not believe that our culture was first written about and then carried out. I believe our culture is too strong for that and also too complex. There are a lot of things about our culture that just cannot be explained in words and that is what makes the Canadian culture so special! I think people first got a general idea of Canadian culture and then wrote about it in the way that they saw it.
    I do believe the literature written about Canadian culture can be very strong and proud but I do not think it makes our culture what it is. I think our culture is just so unique and different from other cultures that people were interested in writting about it to explain the culture more.

  3. Katelyn

    I believe in my opinion that Canadian literature created the Canadian culture. I
    believe this because the Canadian poets and authors wrote what the believed would be the ideal Canadian. One that is humble, honest and very welcoming of others. Then the Canadians began trying to be this idealistic Canadian. The liturature was like and still is like a role model that we try to be like.
    I think that it would be nearly impossible for the Culture to create the liturature because everybody would be different making it impossible to write liturature that would unite everybody and make one image of a Canadian. Therefore I believe that the Canadian Literature created the Canadian culture.

  4. Brittni Tupper

    I think the culture came first, because a whole culture and the personality of a country, can’t be determined by a few pieces of literature. Literature is determined by the country and culture it is surrounded by. I think that authors made Cananadian literature the way it is, saying that the people are kind, generous, caring, and humble, because thats how everybody wants to be thought of. Canada as a whole doesn’t doesn’t act like that, but lots of people do and everybody wants to think that they are humble and kind. Its something people can relate to, something they strive to be. So it kind of unites Canadians and makes them proud to be thought of this way, thats why they put it in their literature. Other countries think Canadians are like this because they accept people of any race and color, from any country. And when Canadians go to other countries they are nice compared to people from other countries. They also like Candians because they think that we are a peaceful country, we haven’t started any wars, making us a well like country. Thats why authors from every country make literature with caring, humble, kind Canadians.

  5. Kyle

    Culture Or Literature
    The culture I believe was the first to exist. Many cultures exist in Canada, including the variety that we see portrayed in our literature. The literature has really done nothing more than to remind us of the fact that people who hold such values exist. The literature might have drawn more people to the ideas of simplicity and easy-going nature, but the literature was not where those ideas were conceived. The fact that the literature brought this culture into further light does not mean that it was not embraced before they were even written about. The nature that many have adopted for themselves was at one point a rarity, but thanks to Canadian stories, those qualities are much more common amongst the populace.

  6. JOhn

    Personally, I think that the culture came before the literature made up our culture. I think that in order for the writers to get any idea of what Canada and the people of Canada is there had to be an initial personality of the Canadian. Literature and the media has certainly contributed to our culture but it hasn’t totally made up the personality of a Canadian. Over the years many different movies, tv shows, and literature have hugely contributed to Canadian personality but in the beginning there had to be some personality to the Canadian person to bigin the idea. Maybe the pesonality wasn’t as defined as it is today but there definetly was some personality there.

  7. Curtis

    Well i was not here on Monday for that chat but I’ll give it a shot…
    From my many years of research on this topic i have came to a conclusion that the culture came before the literature, I say this because I think that in the early Canadian culture they were living their lives and experiencing the beauty of nature before they could fully describe it with literature. I think that the literature would describe a culture, so if there was no culture there would be no literature. But on the other hand the way people talk and describe things make up a big part of the culture. I think that the culture would have to come first, otherwise there would be no literature, but that is a very hard question to try and explain or answer.

  8. James

    I think that the Canadian liturature created the culture. Canadians are different then other people and I think that we had to be able to make our own culture from our liturature. We are different and I dont think that we are much alike other countries, so if our liturature came from our culrure we wouldn’t have what we have today. We wouldn’t have our slang language and we would be proper and talk like other countries. Canada has there our liturature and if it came from the culture we would be like the other countries, cause thats where Canada started, but we are different!

  9. Jillian Daschuk

    I think that their had to have been somthing to start this sterio type off with. Somone wouldnt just make up a random steriotype that millions of people would choose to believe. Even if it was just one Canadian who influenced one author in that certain “steriotypic” way, and that author wrote about him as a “whole” Canadian. Other authors may have went off of his idea and the whole concept grew. In conclusion i defanitly believe that the culture came before the sterio type because their needed to be somthing for the authors to base it on!

  10. Chantal Lavoie

    Did Canadian culture come from literature, or does literature showcase Canadian culture? I really truely think that our culture is something that existed long before the literature, it really only makes sence to be in that order. I believe Canadians have always had a patriotic way and have always been humble people, in saying this I do believe that writers were inspired by the ways of Canadians and then wanted to share this. There is the steriotype of a “Canadian” but i think that throughout time people gathered the great things about Canadians as individuals and made us together, a whole, a great bunch of people! We have become great people, we are ever growing and I do believe that literature will continually grow to show that as long as we are still Canadians!

  11. Michael

    I believe that canadian culture existed before canadian literature because if there was no culture first what would the stories be based on. I don’t believe that a book was written before the culture was developed. I think that that we the people of canada created the culture that we live in today not the literature. Many other things influence the culture of our country and I believe the biggest thing is the media. The media has been around for ages and I think that is what I think is the biggest influence on a culture. not Literature.

  12. keenermarc (Post author)

    Submitted by Owen yesterday:

    “What most people might think when hearing this question, “what came first…the culture itself or the literature?” you are might think that well of course, culture came first and the writing or literature. However, I do not believe this. I believe that the literature came first because as most of us are of European dissent, one would think we would be just like them. It wouldn’t matter what part you came from, you would think that would want to act aws you did in your home land. But as with many came to realize, there were people from everywhere around the world, accepting what the Canadian “code” actually was (the writing at which Canada had produced before anyone else arrived here). So with that being said, I believe that the writing came before the culture.”

  13. Matt

    I am a fairly strong believer in the fact that the stereotypical literature pointing towards Canada has created the “Canadian Personality” and not the other way around.

    Mainly I think this way because the Canadian stereotype is overused to the point where it seems fake, and even the most distant and different of people could see through the idea that “All Canadians are short sighted, dumb, accented beaver training simpletons that live in Igloo’s and ride dogsleds to work”.
    I think that the majority of Canadians, still to this day, are confused by the stereotype placed upon them. The stereotype has almost nothing in common with the Canadian people of the modern (and probably past) world. Never, have I seen someone use the word “Eh?” in every sentence, nor have I seen people that are so kind and polite that they’ll do anything for a stranger.
    Then where did these stereotypes that create the alleged “Canadian Personality” come from then? It is my view that they come from the Literature. It could have happened a number of ways. Perhaps an author, who lived in Canada, picked out a few elements and wrote about it. Then as the world spread, other authors who have never been to Canada would assume that the Country is like that all around, and eventually, was molded into a completely far off stereotype that is our country today.
    Once again, this is just my view, and could be wrong, but as I look around the country that is Canada today, I think that Literature came first, and then made the Culture that is ours today.

    ps, sorry for the late submission date, I completely forgot about posting it here.


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