British Journal of Canadian Studies

Public space as inspiration for the writer: writing the diverse nation and the threat of privatisation in Carol Shields’s Unless

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2020), 32, (1-2), 43–63.

Abstract

In Carol Shields’s Künstlerroman Unless, protagonist Reta Winters revisits, in her narrative, her private home in suburbia and the public spaces of Toronto. These sites help her ponder the role of space and ultimately her own role as a writer in redefining the nation. Reta’s home emblematises an incompletely revised Canada. Privatisation of space, suburbanisation, and consumerism, as well as her self-absorption in her relatively privileged position as a woman writer, perpetuate selfishness and fear of (other forms of) alterity. Reta must widen her scope of interest as a writer of difference and reconsider public space, a site of different ethnic and class identities, as a model for the diverse nation.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

References

‘The 48th Highlanders of Canada Is a Primary Reserve Infantry Regiment’, 2010, Regiment Info-48th Highlanders Canada. Available from: http://www.48highlanders.com/01_00.html (accessed 18 April 2020). Google Scholar

Atwood, Margaret, 2006, ‘In Search of Alias Grace: On Writing Canadian Historical Fiction’, Curious Pursuits: Occasional Writing, 1970-2005 (London: Virago), pp. 209-29. Google Scholar

Banting, Keith, and Will Kymlicka, 2010, ‘Canadian Multiculturalism: Global Anxieties and Local Debates’, British Journal of Canadian Studies, 23:1 (Spring), 43-72. Google Scholar

Baumeister, Andrea T., and John Horton, 1996, ‘Literature, Philosophy and Political Theory’, in John Horton and Andrea T. Baumeister (eds), Literature and the Political Imagination (New York: Routledge), pp. 1-31. Google Scholar

Beckman-Long, Brenda, 2015, ‘Introduction: Shields as Writer-Critic: Autobiography and the Politics of Self-Representation’, in Brenda Beckman-Long, Carol Shields and the Writer-Critic (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), pp. 3-20. Google Scholar

Boyd, Shelley, 2014, ‘Shields’s Guerilla Gardeners: Sowing Seeds of Defiance and Care’, in David Staines (ed.), The Worlds of Carol Shields (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press), pp. 177-96. Google Scholar

Chomsky, Noam, 2003, Understanding Power: The Indispensible Chomsky, Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel (eds) (London: Vintage Books). Google Scholar

Chomsky, Noam, 2012, Occupy (London: Penguin Books). Google Scholar

Clément, Dominique, 2013, ‘Legacies and Implications of Human Rights Law in Canada’, Canadian Issues (Spring), 46-50. Google Scholar

Derrida, Jacques, 1992a, Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money, trans. Peggy Kamuf (Chicago: University of Chicago). Google Scholar

Derrida, Jacques, 1992b, from ‘Psyche: Invention of the Other’, in Derek Attridge (ed.), Acts of Literature (New York: Routledge), pp. 310-43. Google Scholar

Derrida, Jacques, 1992c, ‘“This Strange Institution Called Literature”: An Interview with Jacques Derrida’, in Derek Attridge (ed.), Acts of Literature (New York: Routledge), pp. 33-75. Google Scholar

Derrida, Jacques, 1994, Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International, Bernd Magnus and Stephen Cullenberg (eds), trans. Peggy Kamuf (London: Routledge). Google Scholar

Derrida, Jacques, 2002a, ‘Derelictions of the Right to Justice’, in Elizabeth Rottenberg (ed.), Negotiations: Interventions and Interviews, 1971-2001 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press), pp. 133-44. Google Scholar

Derrida, Jacques, 2002b, ‘Ethics and Politics’, in Elizabeth Rottenberg (ed.), Negotiations: Interventions and Interviews, 1971-2001 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press), pp. 295-314. Google Scholar

Dewe, Michael, 2006, Planning Public Library Buildings: Concepts and Issues for the Librarian (Aldershot: Ashgate). Google Scholar

Evans, Bryan M., and Charles W. Smith, 2015, ‘The Political Economy of Canada’s Provinces and Territories in a Neoliberal Era’, in Bryan M. Evans and Charles W. Smith (eds), Transforming Provincial Politics: The Political Economy of Canada’s Provinces and Territories in the Neoliberal Era (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), pp. 3-18. Google Scholar

Evans, Sarah M., and Harry C. Boyte, 1992, Free Spaces: The Sources of Democratic Change in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press). Google Scholar

Fraile-Marcos, Ana María, 2014, ‘Introduction: Urban Glocality and the English Canadian Imaginary’, in Ana María Fraile-Marcos (ed.), Literature and the Glocal City:Reshaping the English Canadian Imaginary (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis), pp. 1-20. Google Scholar

Fulford, Robert, 1995, ‘Going Public: Three Decades Ago, Sidewalk Cafes Were Illegal, Public Art Was Alien and Drinking Was Forbidden on Sundays, New City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square Changed Everything’, Toronto Life, 29:13 (Autumn), 53-4. Google Scholar

Harris, Richard, 1999, ‘Introduction’, Unplanned Suburbs: Toronto’s American Tragedy, 1900 to 1950 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press), pp. 1-20. Google Scholar

Heath, Tim, 2014, ‘Narrative Pragmatism: Goodness in Carol Shields’s Unless’, in David Staines (ed.), The Worlds of Carol Shields (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press), pp. 161-75. Google Scholar

Hill, Tony L., 2002, Canadian Politics, Riding by Riding: An In-Depth Analysis of Canada’s 301 Federal Electoral Districts (Minneapolis, MN: Park Press). Google Scholar

Hou, Jeffrey, 2010, ‘(Not) Your Everyday Public Space’, in Jeffrey Hou (ed.), Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities (London: Routledge), pp. 1-18. Google Scholar

Hutcheon, Linda, 1992, A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction, 5th ed. (New York: Routledge). Google Scholar

Khanna, Stuti, 2013, The Contemporary Novel and the City: Re-conceiving National and Narrative Form (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan). Google Scholar

Madanipour, Ali, 2010, ‘Introduction’, in Ali Madanipour (ed.), Whose Public Space?International Case Studies in Urban Design and Development (London: Routledge), pp. 1-16. Google Scholar

Marcuse, Herbert, 1972, One Dimensional Man (London: Abacus). Google Scholar

Mehta, Vikas, 2013, The Street: A Quintessential Social Public Space (London: Routledge). Google Scholar

Melikoğlu, Esra, 2015, ‘Unless: A Covert Post-Colonial and Transnational Gothic Novel, Or the Haunted House (of Fiction) is Falling Apart’, SCL/ÉLC, Studies in Canadian Literature/Études en littérature canadienne, 40:2, 211-25. Google Scholar

Milroy, Beth Moore, 2009, Thinking, Planning and Urbanism (Vancouver: UBC Press). Google Scholar

Pask, Andrew, 2010, ‘Public Space Activism, Toronto and Vancouver: Using the Banner of Public Space to Build Capacity and Active Change’, in Jeffrey Hou (ed.), Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities (London: Routledge), pp. 227-40. Google Scholar

Rosenthal, Caroline, 2011, ‘Specular Images: Sub/Urban Spaces and “Echoes of Art” in Carol Shields’s Unless’, New York and Toronto, Novels After Postmodernism (New York: Camden House), pp. 169-214. Google Scholar

Shields, Carol, 1993, Mary Swann (London: Flamingo). Google Scholar

Shields, Carol, 1998, ‘An Interview with Carol Shields’, by Donna Krolik Hollenberg, in Contemporary Literature, 39:3, 338-55. Google Scholar

Shields, Carol, 2002, Unless (London: Fourth Estate). Google Scholar

Shields, Carol, 2003, ‘Narrative Hunger and the Overflowing Cupboard’, in Edward Eden and Dee Goertz (eds), Carol Shields, Narrative Hunger, and the Possibilities of Fiction (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), pp. 19-36. Google Scholar

Shields, Carol, 2007, ‘A View from the Edge of the Edge’, in Marta Dvořák and Manina Jones (eds), Carol Shields and the Extra-Ordinary (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press), pp. 17-29. Google Scholar

Stovel, Nora Foster, 2006, ‘“Because She’s a Woman:” Myth and Metafiction in Carol Shields’s Unless’, English Studies in Canada, 32:4, 51-73. Google Scholar

Webster, Roger, 2000, ‘Introduction: Suburbia Inside Out’, in Roger Webster (ed.), Expanding Suburbia: Reviewing Suburban Narratives (New York: Berghan Books), pp. 1-14. Google Scholar

Whitfield, Dexter, 2006, New Labour’s Attack on Public Services: Modernisation by Marketisation? How the Commissioning, Choice, Competition and Contestability Agenda Threatens Public Services and the Welfare State, Lessons for Europe (Nottingham: Spokesman). Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Melikoğlu, Esra