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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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The Intriguing Liminality of Dying in Keefer’s “Going Over the Bars” (Vesna Lopičić)

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Vesna Lopičić

The Intriguing Liminality of Dying in Keefer’s “Going Over the Bars”

“Oh I’m scared of the middle place/Between life and nowhere”

Antony & The Johnsons, “Hope There’s Someone” (2005)

We are not human beings having spiritual experiences,we are spiritual beings having human experiences.

Teilhard de Chardin1

Abstract: This essay deals with the liminal nature of the phenomenon of dying as explored by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Stansilav Grof. Two periods in terms of man’s attitude to death can be identified: one practiced by ancient, pre-industrial and aboriginal cultures characterized by the acceptance of death as an integral part of life (Ariès 1974), and the other present in the post-industrial Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm of Western materialistic science that Grof characterizes as pathological in his 2010 article “The Experience of Death and Dying: Psychological, Philosophical, and Spiritual Aspects.” While the Victorians concealed facts about sex from their children but exposed them to manifestations of grief, modern children learn all the anatomical and physiological details concerning the creation of life, but are mercifully spared from the sight of its end. Death is effaced, hushed-up, almost tabooed to such an extent that sometimes a dying person feels embarrassed. Along these lines, Canadian author Janice Kulyk Keefer, in her story “Going Over the Bars,” depicts the last moments of her character in order to offer a liberating insight into the liminal space between ‘life’ and...

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