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In-Between – Liminal Spaces in Canadian Literature and Cultures

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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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“not quite human, not quite wolf, but something in between”: Liminal Spaces in Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach (Patrizia Zanella)

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Patrizia Zanella

“not quite human, not quite wolf, but something in between”: Liminal Spaces in Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach

Abstract: This essay deals with the abundance of liminal spaces in Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach. Set on traditional and unceded Haisla territory, Monkey Beach is a bildungsroman as well as a Gothic-inflected mystery novel in which nature is both a source of the sublime and the uncanny. The novel portrays liminal spaces in a literal as well as metaphorical, sociological sense. In a literal sense, the concept of liminality applies to the landscape. The coastal setting evokes the metaphor of the threshold and the perpetual coastal rain and fog blur the boundary between water and land, the human and the animal, the real and the mythical. Rather than creating an antithesis between reality and the mythological realm, however, the novel creates in its depiction of nature a liminal space where the two are fluidly intertwined. In the process, the novel complicates any preconceived notions about the relationship between the Haisla community and nature that the reader may harbour. Throughout, Monkey Beach addresses territorial, linguistic, and cultural liminal spaces. The novel subverts the frontier discourse of Canada’s westernmost province and, more broadly, Western discourses that associate Indigenous people with categories of the monstrous, the anthropological curiosity, and the victim.

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