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In-Between – Liminal Spaces in Canadian Literature and Cultures


Edited By Stefan L. Brandt

In the past few years, the concept of «liminality» has become a kind of pet theme within the discipline of Cultural Studies, lending itself to phenomena of transgression and systemic demarcation. This anthology employs theories of liminality to discuss Canada’s geographic and symbolic boundaries, taking its point of departure from the observation that «Canada» itself, as a cultural, political, and geographic entity, encapsulates elements of the «liminal.» The essays comprised in this volume deal with fragmented and contradictory practices in Canada, real and imagined borders, as well as contact zones, thresholds, and transitions in Anglo-Canadian and French-Canadian texts, discussing topics such as the U.S./Canadian border, migration, French-English relations, and encounters between First Nations and settlers.

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Tripping on the Threshold; Groping in the Dark (Aritha van Herk)


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Aritha van Herk

Tripping on the Threshold; Groping in the Dark

Abstract: This essay deals with a writer’s experience of liminality within a particular landscape and space in Canada, the prairie west, and how that gap inscribes a reading and experience of place. It moves from geography and European exploration and colonization to a writerly return to Europe, analyzing Robert Kroetsch’s “The Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof” in light of doubling and disorientation.


The house in western Canada where I grew up resembled nothing so much as a listing ship on a sea of undulating grass. The house’s doorsill was worn, as if the dip in its centre carried the weight of the years that it had withstood tread, our family immigrant inhabitants, two adults and five children hybrid and transplanted, stepping the horizontal strip of wood to eventual splinters. We disregarded the forbearance of that portal; it was mere threshold to our running inside to get a cup of water or to demand from my mother some item that my father needed. We children were the dispatchers and couriers, required to carry out communication as part of expected family assignment: go and tell your father that supper is ready; go and tell your mother that I need her to go into town and get a machine part. There were no mobile phones and no instant text messages in my childhood. On our farm, the very distance between the main...

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