Festschrift für Dieter Huber zum 65. Geburtstag-
Edited By Melanie Arnold, Silvia Hansen-Schirra and Michael Poerner
Jutta Ernst: De/marcations. Border discourse in Jane Urquhart’s The underpainter
259 Jutta Ernst De/marcations. Border discourse in Jane Urquhart’s The underpainter The 49th parallel of latitude, which constitutes the political boundary between Canada and the U.S., is, for a long stretch, a relatively arbitrary demarcation. As John Herd Thompson points out, “[s]o identical is the landscape on either side that historians who reprint photographs of boundary surveyors at work must take care not to reverse the negatives” (Thompson 2006: xi).1 However, it is a border fraught with “ideological meaning” (xi), especially when it comes to Canadian self-perceptions. Russell Brown convincingly argues that [t]he Canadian-American border figures in English-Canadian discourse in a way that is greater than its physical and political existence would seem to justify. When Canada is talked about, defined, or contemplated, this border is often referred to […] as essential to the definition of the country as a whole (Brown 1991: 1).2 Not surprisingly, a contrastive approach that pits Canada against the U.S. has developed into one of the most commonly used methodologies for studying Can- ada and its culture. In his Borderlands. How we talk about Canada (1998), W.H. New acknowledges the relevance of border rhetoric for Canadian Studies, but asks for a more appro- priate use of it. For one, he deems it necessary to take into account not just the 49th parallel, but all of Canada’s state borders (New 1998: 6). In addition, he points to the fact that national and other boundaries serve not merely as descrip- tions of given limits...
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