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CANON

vol. 3


CANON


CANON A SNARC JOURNAL Vol. 3, 2018

Editor-in-Chief Clare Sully-Stendahl

Publisher Ghislaine Sinclair

Editors and Reviewers Vicky Coo Katerina Cook Jen Hall Violet Pask Molly Rookwood


CANON Editor snarcthecanon@gmail.com c/o Students Advocating for Representative Curricula University of King’s College Halifax, NS B3H 2A1 Cover: Jenny Yujia Shi, Mid-air, 2018, oil and acrylic markers on canvas, 36”x48”. Used with permission of the artist. Printed in K’jipuktuk (Halifax), Nova Scotia by etc. Press Ltd.


Contents Land Acknowledgement

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Foreword

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Clare Sully-Stendahl A Note on the Cover Art

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Jenny Yujia Shi (Re)writing Agency for Black Bodies

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Julia-Simone Rutgers Revolutionary Feminism in China

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Isabelle Reynolds Some Thoughts on #metoo

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Hannah Sparwasser Soroka Centre Stage Recognition

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Rachel Colquhoun Type 2 Diabetes in Inuit Communities

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Claire Guatto A Swim

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Rooks Field-Green “I Am Not for Your Eyes”

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Ghislaine Sinclair Isabella Leonarda’s Sonata Duodecimo

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Isabelle Riche Science and Violence

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Vicky Coo Queering Surrealism

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Libby Schofield Making the Motherland Proud

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Oyindasola Lagunju Acknowledgements

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Land Acknowledgement CANON is an interdisciplinary undergraduate journal published by Students Advocating for Representative Curricula (SNARC) at the University of King’s College in K’jipuktuk (Halifax), Nova Scotia. SNARC acknowledges that all of the scholarship at King’s, including all of the work that went into CANON, takes place on unceded and unsurrendered Mi’kmaq territory, and in English, a language of colonialism and oppression. The Peace and Friendship Treaties struck between the Mi’kmaq and British nations are unique in that they grant uninhibited use of land resources to First Nations, rather than outlining a surrender of land. Canada continues to violate the spirit—peace and friendship—and letter—resource use for the Mi’kmaq Nation—of these treaties. For more information on these treaties visit migmawei.ca, and to support Indigenous rights continent-wide see idlenomore.ca.


Where is the I in the Canon? “The I is an interstice, not an intersection. An opening. . . . I invites observation at the level of the personal and the intimate without allowing the observer to mistake the observed for anything other than what it is: individuated. Familiar, sometimes, yes. Radically other, often. But I is an invitation to listen. It is an invitation to follow one body’s thinking, one possibility’s path.” - Erin Wunker, Notes from a Feminist Killjoy

I

’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to say that the canon is constructed. Constructed by whom? Constructed how? Our academic institutions and our scholarship are bound up with the Western canons. We are guided to read within the frames of bookshelves (both real and metaphorical) that delineate the voices and stories we regularly engage with from those we don’t. In so doing, the canon is further entrenched; at the same time, it further erodes the capacity for alternate voices, and sometimes for the expression of any uniqueness of voice at all. Academia tends toward a certain anonymity, the embodied individuality of the author hidden behind the often disembodied perspective of the traditional academic paper. Working within the frames of the canon, however, simultaneously holds an embedded potential. By the nature of its construction, the canon has spaces and standpoints built into it. Sometimes these spaces are the holes and voids created by the absence of voices; sometimes these voids become the standpoints from which those located outside of the canon look on to it. These spaces are all places from which to interact with the canon, to destabilize it, to carve out those gaps until they become rooms big enough to invite others in as well. Even when working from within the parameters set by the canon, we are able to imaginatively create our own experience of what we are encountering. Our selves are always brought to bear on our interactions with the canon, whether or not that potential is actively explored. At a recent reading by Erin Wunker, she talked about the inherent possibilities that come to light in prioritizing the interstice over the intersection. This resonated with me as I reflected on how I approach my own challenges with the canon, and how I seek to form and be a part of communities. In both of these realms I am always looking for the metaphorical gaps, the openings, the spaces in which individuals and ideas and words can move in and out and slide into relation


with one another. It is not enough, however, for these spaces to remain metaphorical. Without physical spaces, without tangible initiatives, the patriarchal, colonial, racist foundations of our academies and institutions can be critiqued but never fully combatted. Without the structural frameworks of accessible spaces, representative syllabi, equitable valuation of labour, and platforms for the voices that continue to be marginalized in academic institutions and discourses, the problems are not being fixed. In my capacity as Editor-in-Chief of CANON, I have strived to make this volume such a space. Not just in the sense of bringing to the forefront topics, genres, and voices that are not often enough encountered in academia, but in the tangible role this journal holds in bringing together a multitude of individuals, perspectives, and pieces into a shared bound book. Each of these pieces comes from an I with its own stories and experiences of navigating the canonicity and exclusivity that mark the academy. Each of these Is has its own stories to share. This journal is not a new or a different canon. It is also not, by any means, a complete response to the canon. Most importantly, it is not professing itself to be anything “complete� at all. Instead, this journal is something beautiful that exists in its own right, a collection of individuals placing their art and their stories and their voices alongside one another in ways that resist categorization. The interactions of the perspectives and positions in the coming pages ultimately render CANON more than its constitutive parts, yet also deny the presentation of a subsuming whole. I encourage you to take up the spaces that this journal leaves open, and to think about the standpoints from which you interact with both it and the pieces that it frames.

- Clare Sully-Stendahl, Editor-in-Chief


A Note on the Cover Art

I

n 2009, I moved from Beijing to Halifax on a student visa. I was eighteen at the time, just old enough to understand the significance of moving to a different culture, but naive enough to be undaunted by it. I once considered myself lucky for not having much of an accent. It made it easy to blend in. I fit in just enough to experience life as if I was an ordinary Canadian youth. My camouflage helped to create the illusion that I wasn’t all that different. Like my peers, I too imagined building a life here: applying for grants, residencies, and taking advantage of any opportunity that came my way. It all changed after graduation. My immigration papers now classified me as a temporary resident. No longer a student, my life in Canada was now on a countdown. As other people went on to pursue the next stage of their lives, I was faced with the pressing matter of how to secure permanent resident status so as to not leave the place in which I had begun to take root. Since then, my art practice naturally but involuntarily evolved under the force of the seemingly endless journey towards permanent resident status. Through visual language, I have been making numerous attempts to understand and articulate my experience; one that just doesn’t quite fit into the conventional immigration narratives. Mid-air is an ongoing painting series that arose during my flight from Beijing to Halifax in summer 2017. The cabin felt as if it was a crystallization of time and space, embodying displacement, hopefulness, disorientation, and longing. Puzzled by where “home” really was, I couldn’t follow the linear direction of my travel. How could I continue where I left off when it was only my body that boarded the plane? This was when I looked out the windows and started to imagine people from my childhood memory appearing among the clouds. These large and monumental figures anchored my existence. At that moment, neither Beijing nor Halifax felt real to me; it was as if the only place I belonged and truly existed was in midair.

- Jenny Yujia Shi


The word “canon” derives from the Greek κανών, meaning “rule” or “measuring stick.” The oldest use of the word that resembles its modern sense is biblical: the set of authoritative texts regarded as accepted scripture, as opposed to the non-canonical Apocrypha.

Apocrypha originates from the medieval Latin apocryphus, meaning “secret,” and from the Greek ἀπόκρυφος and ἀποκρύπτειν, meaning “obscure” and “to hide away.”


The pieces of academic, creative, and personal writing that follow confront topics that are not often discussed within academic discourse. The content of this journal may be uncomfortable for some, as the authors of CANON confront issues such as racism, colonial violence, and sexual assault. Discomfort can be a necessary aspect of de-normalizing oppressive content; please interact with CANON on your own terms.


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Julia-Simone Rutgers

I

am a third year Journalism and Contemporary Studies student whose work focuses on re-centring marginalized voices in the contemporary canon. My journalistic writing aims to amplify BIPOC Canadian voices in the media, and my academic work often centres on the intersections of race, gender, power, and representation. This paper explores these intersections within medical history, and focuses on the way agency and voice was denied to black bodies in medical experimentation. As a way into this question, I examine both historical and fictional narratives of Saartje Baartman—the Venus Hottentot. The historical narratives give an account of her objectification and outline how agency was denied to her throughout her life; my paper then incorporates the play Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks to assess whether a fictionalization of Baartman’s story from an African American perspective is enough to return agency to Baartman’s own narrative.

- Julia-Simone Rutgers


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(Re)writing Agency for Black Bodies in Medical Experimentation I. Introduction

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he history of medical experimentation in science has been long known to be threaded with racist practices that have placed marginalized populations at great risk of unethical human experimentation. One has to look no farther than the Tuskegee Syphilis experiments or Dr. Marion Sims’s gynecological experiments1 to see evidence of this power dynamic at work in scientific history, specifically regarding black populations. Though these dark moments in the history of Western medicine have been dissected and acknowledged as exploitative on the part of the experimenters, it is important to recognize that the causes of these racially motivated injustices extend beyond the attitudes and behaviours of any isolated physician and are rather deeply rooted in the socio-political structures of Western society. Systemic silencing of black voices and denial of agency to black people in society have played an inarguably large role in the disturbing history of exploitation of black bodies in human experimentation. In both of the examples noted above, the mistreatment of black bodies for scientific advancement was accepted and encouraged by social practices. Both experiments were presented as an attempt to cure or correct medical ailments for the “greater good”; yet this greater good excluded the lives and well-being of the black bodies being experimented on. The goal of this investigation is to determine the extent to which the 1.  The Tuskegee Syphilis experiments were a clinical study lasting from 1932 to 1972 in which black men in rural Alabama were left untreated for syphilis under the pretense of receiving free health care. The men were given free medical care, meals, and free burial insurance for participating in the study, but after funding for treatment was ended, the study was continued without informing the men that they would never be treated. Dr. Sims’s gynecological experiments happened in the mid-nineteenth century and exploited enslaved black women to pursue scientific research goals. Sims took ownership of slave women to research ways to treat a fistula—a tear between the uterus and bladder.


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denial of agency to black individuals in the history of human experimentation is informed by socio-political structures of oppression. As a way into this issue, this paper will use the story of Saartjie Baartman, the Venus Hottentot, as a case study. Suzan-Lori Parks’s play Venus will be used as a fictional account of Baartman’s story, particularly as a fictional account which attempts to return Baartman’s own voice and agency to her story. First, this investigation will outline the relationship between scientific study and political goals and customs in order to establish the means by which systemic racism operates in scientific study. It will then give a historical account of Baartman’s subjection to oppression and experimentation, with an emphasis on the ways she was denied agency throughout her life. It will end with a critical analysis of Parks’s Venus as a means of re-introducing Baartman’s voice to her story, with a focus on the limitations of re-crafting her voice from an African American perspective. Ultimately, this investigation will conclude that the abuse of power on black bodies throughout the history of human experimentation was both informed and permitted by racist power structures in Western thought, leading to further erosion of agency and voice for black people in Western history. It will further consider whether attempts at fictionalization, as exemplified by Parks’s Venus, are capable of restoring this agency once it is lost. II. Science and Socio-Political Structures To begin, it is critical to establish that the field of science is intrinsically linked with the pursuit of political goals. The connection between these two facets of society is made clear in Leo Alexander’s article “Medical Science under Dictatorship,” which aims to elucidate the ways that political influences impact the ideological forces of science. Alexander’s argument is more directly aimed at the impact of dictatorial socio-political ideologies on the field of science, but his thesis bears implications for more subtle socio-political influences as well. In fact, the premise of his argument rests on the claim that even a subtle shift in political attitudes— in this case resulting from a dictatorship—results in a shift in scientific research ethics, too. As Alexander notes, it is the “subtle shift in emphasis of the physicians’ attitude that one must thoroughly investigate”2 when searching for the rationale behind breaches of medical ethics. He explains that “prior to the advent of scientific medicine, the physician’s main function was to give hope to the patient and to relieve his relatives of responsibility. Gradually, in all civilized countries, medicine has moved away from this position” towards a Hegelian rationalism that focuses 2.  Alexander, “Medical Science under Dictatorship,” 44.


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on social usefulness rather than patient health. This is the predicament in which Alexander finds the study of science: plagued by a rational utilitarianism and a desire to better the public good—that being the “good” established by pre-existing socio-political structures. Alexander’s article goes some ways to supporting the claim that science is an inherently biased field of study, impacted by social, political, and financial frameworks on a subconscious level. Within the framework of racial bias, this relationship between science and social structures becomes even more troubling. In an article titled “Power, Opportunism, Racism: Human Experiments under American Slavery,” Stephen Kenny outlines the history of experimentation on slave bodies in America and the ways in which the slave system in the South provided a stage for unethical and dangerous experimentation on vulnerable populations. Kenny’s article explores a number of case studies and argues that “these experiments were a common-place and constituent part of the culture of American slavery, a deeply exploitative and racist culture, which in turn both facilitated and gave impetus to white medical research on the enslaved.”4 In his thesis, Kenny makes clear that the fundamental cause of the dangerous and unethical experiments he covers is that “the history of human experimentation is as old as the practice of medicine and in the modern phase has always targeted disadvantaged, marginalized, institutionalized, stigmatized and vulnerable populations,”5 because these populations have been readily available for white scientists. With specific reference to black populations in America, Kenny’s article notes that “slave sufferers presented great opportunities for developing medical research, serving as useful human resources for producing knowledge and building white professional capital.”6 Here, Kenny explicitly outlines the exploitative nature of experimentation under the slave system: black bodies were available as a human resource to further the professional lives of white scientists. He further explains this connection by noting that the same racist logic that turned enslaved people into commodities exerted a powerful force that shaped encounters between white physicians and slaves at all levels of medicine. White physicians thus faced few, if any, obstacles in consuming black corpses and taking advantage of slave subjects for medical education and research.7 3

3.  Alexander, 45. 4.  Kenny, “Power, Opportunism, Racism,” 11. 5.  Kenny, 11. 6.  Kenny, 10. 7.  Kenny, 19.


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Kenny also identifies a number of common trends in the history of medical experimentation that made this exploitative relationship possible, including “the framing of experiments as a contribution to medical progress, utilizing the latest therapeutic insights and incorporating medical technologies and procedural innovations from across the Atlantic world.”8 These strategies, in combination with the ready accessibility of black bodies as experimental objects, allowed white scientists to justify dangerous experiments in order to advance socio-political and economic aims. Historian Todd Savitt’s seminal work, “The Use of Blacks for Medical Experimentation and Demonstration in the Old South,” confirms Kenny’s claims in noting that the “use of blacks for medical experimentation and demonstration was not the result of a conscious organized plan on the part of white southerners to learn more about the differences between the races or even how better to care for their black charges.”9 Instead, Savitt argues, “Blacks were considered more available and more accessible in this white-dominated society: they were rendered physically visible by their skin color but were legally invisible because of their slave status.”10 Together, the accounts of Alexander, Kenny, and Savitt offer a harrowing picture of exploitative scientific practices, particularly in the American South under slavery, and establish a clear connection between socio-political norms and the limits of ethical practice. The social conditions of the slave system allowed for black individuals to be viewed as objects of experimentation for the betterment of white society, but not as acting subjects capable of agency and voice in the scientific theatre. With the rise of medical schools in both Europe and the United States, the availability of marginalized peoples for experimentation became a crucial link in the development of medical science. Kenny concludes his analysis of unethical medical practices on slaves by noting that within the context of Western society, “the exploitation of enslaved bodies was a frequent, widespread and indeed commonplace feature of medical encounters between physicians and slaves.”11 III. Case Study: The Venus Hottentot Thus far this investigation has focused primarily on accounts of unethical experimentation in the slave system of the American South. Though a number of disturbing scientific accounts arise from this particular period, the problem of racially 8.  Kenny, 11. 9.  Savitt, “Use of Blacks,” 332. 10.  Savitt, 332. 11.  Kenny, “Power, Opportunism, Racism,” 20.


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motivated exploitation in the history of science was never isolated to the American slave system. In fact, a good deal of the Southern slave hospitals modelled themselves after the French schools of hospital medicine where experimentation on human subjects had become common practice. The need for human resources to fulfill these educational aims, therefore, was the catalyst for exploitative experimentation in countries and hospitals beyond the Old South. As a case study, this paper investigates the famed case of Saartjie Baartman, the Venus Hottentot, who was subjected to unsavoury treatment in Europe in the early 1800s. This particular case is useful to this investigation’s thesis because Baartman’s story has been reinterpreted and re-presented on a number of occasions as a work of fiction—often with an attempt to reinstate Baartman’s stolen voice and agency through her fictionalization. This section of the investigation will focus primarily on historical accounts of Baartman’s life and the experimentation conducted on her body, and the following section will address her fictionalization in an attempt to assess the extent to which Baartman’s voice has been eroded from public record. We shall begin, however, in Paris, on a shelf in the back wards of the Musée de l’Homme, where Saartjie Baartman’s genitalia sat dissected in jars until their eventual return to her home of South Africa in 2002. She was dissected by prominent anatomist George Cuvier upon her death in 1815, and her genitals remained on display in this museum for nearly two centuries. Little is known about Baartman from her own perspective. A number of historical accounts, however, have given researchers a fairly comprehensive account of her life story before her eventual dissection in Paris. I will endeavour to relay her story now, though it is important to take into account that these narratives all originate from an outsider perspective, reinforcing the denial of Baartman’s agency and voice both in her life and after her death. Saartjie Baartman, known as The Hottentot Venus, was a member of the Khoi-San people12 from South Africa. Accounts claim she worked as a servant to Dutch farmers just outside Cape Town. At that time she had a name which, now unknown, was never used by those who later owned and exploited her. In 1810, Baartman was taken to London by an employer who promised to return her to her home as a wealthy woman after she spent time on exhibition in Europe. Baartman agreed, though how much choice she had in the matter is unknown, and was exhibited at No. 225 Piccadilly, where unusual and “exotic” individuals were displayed by business men for two shillings. Baartman was eventually moved to, 12.  Known derogatorily as “Hottentots” and “Bushmen” to Europeans.


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and exhibited, in Paris, where she was displayed as part of the scientific and anthropological studies at the Jardin du Roi. On December 29, 1815, Baartman died of what is said to be an inflammatory ailment. She was later dissected by Cuvier and displayed in the Musée de l’Homme from 1815 until her repatriation to Cape Town in 2002.13 Baartman’s main attraction to her observers across Europe was, by all accounts, the fascination with the shape of her figure. Baartman displayed the physical characteristics of the Khoi-San people, most notably a large rear end which fascinated European doctors. Historian Stephen Gould explains in his text The Flamingo’s Smile that “Khoi-San women accumulate large amounts of fat in their buttocks, a condition called steatopygia. The buttocks protrude far back, often coming to a point at their upper extremity and sloping down toward the genitalia.”14 Furthermore, Baartman had a tablier,15 an elongated labia that covered her genitalia and was considered exotic by white European populations. Cuvier, the scientific community, and the European public were fascinated by the unusual shape and nature of Baartman’s genital organs, and this fascination played a major role in her sexualization. Gould’s historic account of Baartman’s story points quite clearly to the European scientific community’s fascination with the Venus Hottentot. Because of racially motivated superiority among white Europeans, Khoi-San people were seen as an evolutionary step between man and brute. Gould notes that “in this system, Saartjie exerted a grim fascination, not as a missing link in a later evolutionary sense, but as a creature who straddled that dreaded boundary between human and animal.”16 Such a statement highlights the manner by which racist mentalities in Europe informed the scientific approach to Baartman’s body. Cuvier approached his dissections in light of his cultural understanding of African peoples—which was certainly rife with gaps of both knowledge and accuracy. He took the leading social premise that “advanced humans (read modern Europeans) are refined, modest, and sexually restrained” together with the premise that “animals are overtly and actively sexual and so betray their primitive character” to arrive at the conclusion that Baartman’s sexual anatomy was evidence of her animali13.  Gould, “The Hottentot Venus,” 293–294. 14.  Gould, 297. 15.  Tablier is the French term for the sinus pudoris—a biological feature particular to Khoi-San women and a few related peoples in which the labia minora hang a few inches below the vagina, giving the appearance of a covering flap of skin. According to Gould, at the time of Cuvier’s writing there was still much debate about the nature of tablier, and Cuvier’s dissection became key in resolving this debate. 16.  Gould, “The Hottentot Venus,” 294.


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ty. As Leo Alexander claims, “basic unconscious motivation and attitude has a great influence in determining the scientist’s awareness of the phenomena that pass through his vision.”18 Cuvier’s detailed dissection of the Venus Hottentot’s body after her death was largely informed and filtered through his motivations and attitudes regarding African peoples. 17

IV. Conclusion: Fictionalizing Agency The story of Saartjie Baartman has been recounted a number of times throughout history by primarily African American women writers attempting to reassign a voice to the Venus Hottentot and reclaim her story as one of empowerment. In particular, Suzan-Lori Parks’s 1995 play Venus attempts to reconstruct Baartman’s story with an emphasis on recreating the voice she was denied throughout her life. From the opening of the play, Parks carefully builds the characters and their interactions to reflect the systemic silencing of Baartman’s voice. Though this approach to Baartman’s story is a notable shift from the ways Baartman was exploited and written about during her life, it remains to be seen as to whether these fictional accounts offer her any type of reestablished agency. Parks’s play presents a valiant attempt to return Baartman to the story of the Venus Hottentot. In the beginning of the text, however, there is a careful and deliberate display of Baartman’s imposed silence. The structure of Parks’s work is unconventional—she employs a variety of stage directions and techniques to give the play a strange poetic rhythm. Parks uses long, silent pauses to communicate unspoken moments between her characters, and in these moments of silence the power dynamics which inform the play come to light. Baartman’s character in the play is written in as “The Venus,”19 drawing attention to her sexualization from the onset. She first appears in silence, rotating in front of a cast of characters who chant her name and each other’s names for the overture of the play. The Venus’s first line is her own title—“The Venus Hottentot”—followed by two counts of Parks’s (rest) direction.20 Her title has already been called out by other characters in the play—her first line is only a repetition, not a unique thought or voice of her own. She is first described as “Venus, Black Goddess,” and as a “Wild Female Jungle Creature. Of singular anatomy. Physiqued in such a backward rounded way 17.  Gould, 301. 18.  Alexander, “Medical Science under Dictatorship,” 44. 19.  Parks acknowledges Saartjie Baartman in the foreword to the play, indicating that the choice to name her “The Venus” is a deliberate one. 20.  “(rest): Take a little time, a pause, a breather; make a transition.” Parks, Venus.


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that she outshapes all others.” 21 In fact, in the opening scene of the play the Venus has only one line that is not simply a repetition of how other characters have described her. She does not speak for herself or of herself beyond what is told to her. Parks uses this dialogue to skillfully illustrate the Venus’s lack of self-agency right from the beginning of the play. Parks combines dialogue choices like the Venus’s opening line with historical excerpts from medical history to cut between the Venus’s ambitions, which are to become rich in England, and the reality being dictated to her from without. Cuvier’s autopsy results are interspersed as scenes called “Footnotes” that bring a sobering reminder of the Venus’s eventual fate. These excerpts are read while the Venus is present on stage, demonstrating how the Venus was barred from participating in her own fate. In the first of these “footnote” scenes, stage directions indicate that the Venus is being restrained to listen to the Baron Docteur’s autopsy, and even as she tries to flee, “she runs smack into the Mother-Showman.”22 The Venus is unable to participate, unable to add her voice, and yet also unable to escape. Though Parks’s play continues, as it does in these examples, to subtly highlight the lack of agency granted to the Venus throughout her life and even in her death, feminist critics like Natasha Maria Gordon-Chipembere are cautious to offer fictionalizations like Venus praise for reconstructing Baartman’s sense of agency. Gordon-Chipembere notes that Baartman’s story has been absorbed by the African diaspora to stand as a representation of African female beauty and triumph, but often these re-presentations of Baartman’s life neglect to account for the nuances of her identity as a Khoi-San, South African woman in a country occupied and oppressed by the Dutch. By ignoring these nuances in recreations of Baartman’s story, Gordon-Chipembere argues that “these same African American women, who make her into an icon of black womanhood, paradoxically continue to colonise her because of their inability to recognize Baartman, the historical woman, the Khoisan woman, and thus create a caricature.”23 Gordon-Chipembere criticizes Parks for describing Baartman as more complicit in her story than the historical records can support. “Who is this woman that Parks claims to know? Is this a realistic portrayal of a Khoisan woman in 1810? Hardly.”24 she exclaims. Rather, Parks’s Venus does what many other modern reinterpretations of Baartman’s story do, painting the Venus as an idealized and liberated black woman who exercised some agency in her movements. With further historical analysis, Gor21.  Parks, 5. 22.  Parks, 28. 23.  Gordon-Chipembere, “‘Even with the Best Intentions’,” 58. 24.  Gordon-Chipembere, 59.


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don-Chipembere is able to highlight the extent of the oppression of Khoi-San people under Dutch rule and push back against some of the sexual freedoms that Parks attributes to the Venus’s character. Parks’s play and Gordon-Chipembere’s critique thereof capture the essence of this investigation’s essential problem: what is the extent and effect of denying agency to black bodies in the history of human experimentation? We have already demonstrated how the history of experimentation has been deeply informed by scientific racism, which leaves vulnerable populations at risk of exploitation and denies these vulnerable bodies agency and voice with regards to the experiments. When this voice is stripped away, however, can it be returned? What role does writing about these ethical abuses play in returning voice to those who have had it stolen? Gordon-Chipembere seems to suggest that the continued re-telling of stories of exploitation continues to objectify the voices and bodies that have already been denied agency. Parks’s play, though subtly and creatively communicating the Venus Hottentot’s silencing at the hands of her exploiters, still neglects to return full agency and nuanced voice to Baartman’s story. Though it is clear that the abuse of power on black bodies throughout the history of human experimentation has been cultivated by systemic scientific racism, and that this racism led to the erosion of agency and voice for black people in the history of Western experiments, it remains to be discussed whether written investigations, including this one, are capable of altering or re-focusing the canon to return agency to those who have had it stripped from them. 


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Bibliography Alexander, Leo. “Medical Science under Dictatorship.” The New England Journal of Medicine 241, no. 2 ( July 14, 1949): 39–47. Gordon-Chipembere, Natasha Maria. “‘Even with the Best Intentions’: The Misreading of Sarah Baartman’s Life by African American Writers.” Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, no. 68 (2006): 54–62. http:// www.jstor.org/stable/4066764. Gould, Stephen Jay. “The Hottentot Venus.” In The Flamingo’s Smile: Reflections in Natural History, 291–305. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1985. Kenny, Stephen C. “Power, Opportunism, Racism: Human Experiments under American Slavery.” Endeavour 39, no. 1 (2015): 10–20. http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.endeavour.2015.02.002. Parks, Suzan-Lori. Venus. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1997. Savitt, Todd L. “The Use of Blacks for Medical Experimentation and Demonstration in the Old South.” The Journal of Southern History 48, no. 3 (1982): 331–48. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2207450.


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Isabelle Reynolds

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am pursuing an Honours degree in Contemporary Studies and Political Science. I am excited about this paper because often discussions about feminism, more specifically revolutionary feminism, focus on European and North American movements and their philosophies. Revolutionary feminism in China is distinct from Western expressions of feminism. This paper surveys the trajectory of anarchic revolutionary feminism as it specifically relates to the Communist revolution in China, and examines the development of feminist philosophy in relation to distinctly Chinese philosophical traditions. Powerful feminist thinkers surrounding the revolution carefully draw upon ideas and movements from Japan and Europe, but are unmistakable in portraying that the genesis of Chinese feminism is justified and supported within the canon of Chinese philosophy. I was so excited to study these thinkers because North American feminism tends to exist in a bubble, and looking beyond that bubble enables an important interplay of perspectives that can lead to huge socio-cultural change. Special thanks to CANON, and to Dr. Kow for his support of this paper during his excellent course Asia and the West.

- Isabelle Reynolds


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The Origins and Expressions of Revolutionary Feminism in China

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é Zhèn, an early twentieth-century anarchist, and Li Xiaojiang, a twenty-first-century scholar, are feminist thinkers whose respective challenges follow a distinct history of addressing the unequal treatment of women in China. Their work is a continuation of the longstanding address of inequality which exists throughout Confucian scholarship. They put themselves to the task of confronting a “blatantly male-dominated and patriarchal [society],” as it has been reinforced and supported by ideological and cultural norms spanning centuries.1 As she follows her predecessors in feminist thought, Hé brings a distinctly new side of Chinese feminism to light. While many of her contemporaries continue to profess feminist goals alongside nationalist sentiments, Hé severs the link between the two. Instead, she interprets nationalism as an ideological hindrance to feminist goals, and sees the liberation and emancipation of women as a distinctly ethical matter, one which is unrelated to the “sake of the nation.”2 Li Xiaojiang’s subsequent address of communism in China, informed by thinkers like Marx and Engels as well as by her feminist contemporaries and predecessors, points to the “government [lessening] efforts to advance women” as a continuation of society’s historical treatment of women.3 The effects of China’s philosophical traditions on the position of women in the modern age are addressed by Li within the scholarly body of Chinese feminism, as distinct from other feminist movements occurring in the same time period. Though influenced by women’s liberation movements in Japan and the United States, for example, Hé Zhèn’s and Li Xiaojiang’s engagements with women’s rights is informed and strengthened by a distinctly Chinese perspective. Writing in the early twentieth century, Hé builds on a tradition of Chi1.  Zarrow, “Hé Zhèn and Anarcho-Feminism,” 797. 2.  Zarrow, 796. 3.  Li, “Awakening of Women’s Consciousness,” 773.


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nese feminist thinkers. Liang Qichao is a writer who is representative of the wave of feminist nationalism in the late nineteenth century. Following the Chinese nationalist trend of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Liang brings together Western thought and Chinese activism. His appropriation of Confucian terms in order to oppose oppressive Confucian institutions combines Chinese classical learning with knowledge of Western culture in order to inform a new nationalism. He goes beyond simply reapplying Confucian norms in order to transform and modernize Chinese culture. China, he thinks, needs Western and Japanese influences to move beyond a mere reinterpretation of Confucianism. He believes that Zún Zī’s classical Confucian conception of quànlì— as the negative influence of power and profit—has caused China as a whole to have a weak sense of rights.4 For Liang, quànlì should instead be thought of as an active will for rights and liberty. The ethos of this nationalist period in China was influenced by Western ideals like the rule of law, informed citizen participation, and a consciousness of rights. These Western ideals formed a foundation for feminist arguments in twentieth-century China. Hé Zhèn’s move to distance herself and her ideology from nationalism, as part of a larger Chinese feminist and revolutionary movement in the early twentieth century, is also informed by the calls to freedom of another feminist nationalist thinker, Jin Yi. Jin’s work as a socially minded nationalist writer “rigorously condemn[s] the wrongs done to Chinese women such as footbinding, criticize[s] superstitions,” and calls for women to abandon the constraints of traditional gender expectations by promoting the rejection of jewelry and encouraging involvement in business.5 Jin’s call for social and familial revolution, however, is distinctly in relation to a political revolution founded in nationalism, as Jin’s calls for ancestral preservation are tied up in a hope to “save Chinese national sovereignty.”6 The ineffectiveness of these movements are evident, as after “nearly a decade . . . Chinese women were, alas, dependents . . . through no fault of their own.”7 Building on Liang and Jin, Hé moves to take up a more anarchic position by challenging the societal prejudices which find their roots in the accepted reading of Confucian texts. Her solutions offer an alternative to the oppression of women that directly challenges the status quo, but that are all the same founded in relation to Chinese thought. It is evident that foundational Confucian texts do not recognize women 4.  Kow, “Modern Chinese Thought.” 5.  Zarrow, “Hé Zhèn and Anarcho-Feminism,” 798. 6.  Zarrow, 799. 7.  Zarrow, 799.


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as having equal value as men. These texts lend themselves easily to Hé’s assertion that Confucianism is an institution that facilitates the oppression of women. The Analects of Confucius present women as petty, immoral beings who complain; improving their position is therefore of little interest to a Confucian scholar.8 The absence of a female voice in the Analects feeds into women’s omission from discussions concerning society. The institutional acceptance of women as secondary to men reveals itself by the fact that the fall of the Tang dynasty was blamed, in part, on powerful women—a judgment that equates female empowerment with a decline of Confucian values.9 As such, the weakness of women is of little debate in the Confucian tradition, and their secondary nature goes unquestioned. It is asserted and internalized that men and women are distinct units, and that the woman’s function is to act as a lesser, subservient version of the men with whom she engages. The loss of her humanity is systemic, justified by sources of power which are distinctly rooted in Confucianism. The influences of those power structures reach Hé and her writing, moving her to distance the feminist movement from nationalism and other ideologies—including capitalism—which seek to uphold past social structures. The hierarchy of Confucian institutions strengthens the divisions of labour and class that capitalism seeks to justify. Hé asserts that women must reach for, and directly claim, their own rights. This assertion is founded on her realization that the patriarchy of her society, strongly upheld by capitalist institutions, can never grant women equality. A man “depends on [his employer] in order to eat,”10 but a woman is further confined by capitalist influences and “a double oppression of male domination and class subordination.”11 She is designated as a servant, a factory worker, a prostitute, or a concubine. These positions unequally oppress women across class boundaries, and do not affect men in the same way. Thus, men are unable to fully grasp the realities of female oppression. The centrality of money and property to Hé’s argument serves to emphasize that the culprit of this exploitation is not men, but capital, which moves society in such a way that women can become further subjugated. Her address is not to men, for as she has established, men will not grant freedom to women. Instead, she calls on women to recognize the deep-seated inequalities inherent to capitalism. Her rejection of nationalism is a rejection of the ideology’s distinct ties to capitalist systems. Women, as the most oppressed social actors, can bring about the communist revolution for which she advocates. 8.  Analects of Confucius, trans. Ames and Rosemont, 17.25. 9.  Kow, “Neo-Confucian Synthesis.” 10.  Hé, “Women’s Revenge,” 722. 11.  Zarrow, “Hé Zhèn and Anarcho-Feminism,” 811.


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For Hé, men experience nationalism in conjunction with historically and institutionally relevant social values. This experience is alien to women, as Confucianism’s role in perpetuating the unequal status of women is not to be understated. “Hé Zhèn’s awareness of the relationship between gender and class” allows her to identify clear links between the flaws of capitalism, and the implications of core Confucian values.12 For this reason, Hé sees that a political revolution alone is insufficient. Social superstition and false morality declare women’s social liberation to be improper, and thus the dependence of women on men is more than just economic.13 Hé identifies that the capitalist’s selfish consolidation of wealth is paralleled by Confucianism’s promotion of “male selfishness, [and as] Confucianism marks the beginnings of justifications for polygamy and chastity,” it further justifies the control and manipulation of women under capitalism.14 Hé identifies a direct link between banning women from remarriage, and the treatment of women “like private property.”15 Here, Hé equates Confucianism’s institutionalization of the subjection of women with the foundations of capitalism in China. This argument clearly reflects Friedrich Engels’s assertion that as the woman becomes “the first domestic servant,” the institution of private property arises alongside “the development of the antagonism between man and woman in [monogamy].”16 It is evident that, for Hé, feminist demands cannot coexist with a social order in which women’s oppression is a core tenet. Given the centrality of women’s subjection by men to both capitalism and Confucianism, Hé condemns both institutions as insufficient to resolve the deep social inequities between men and women. Li Xiaojiang’s explanation of what women’s rights meant, and have come to mean, in China encapsulates Hé’s scathing critique of the famous first- and second-century historian Ban Zhao’s Admonitions for Women, and the assertions made by the Admonitions themselves. Li writes that “as issues of class in China . . . have receded,” so too have the positions from which these thinkers make their arguments.17 For Li, Hé’s arguments “were . . . about women enduring oppression, discrimination, and enslavement,” conditions which Ban justified.18 While Hé expresses disbelief at Ban’s position on the status of women, Li recognizes that the plight of working class women, which gave rise to a conception of women’s rights, 12.  Zarrow, 802. 13.  Zarrow, 804. 14.  Hé, “Women’s Revenge,” 723. 15.  Hé, 724. 16.  Friedrich Engels, The Origin of the Family, 744. 17.  Li, “Awakening of Women’s Consciousness,” 773. 18.  Li, 773.


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was evidently not faced by Ban. For a woman of her time, Ban wrote as a relatively wealthy, powerful, and educated figure. For Li, Ban’s position represents “issues of class,” and Hé’s characterization of her as a traitor forgets that Ban’s interpretation of the position of women is directly related to her class standing.19 Hé, on the other hand, addresses the connection between class inequity and the institutions that uphold Confucian values. Li’s understanding of Ban’s work comes from a post-capitalist perspective, and her justification of Hé’s criticism further strengthens Hé’s position that capitalism and Confucianism are inherently linked. The relationship between these three writers serves to build and strengthen feminist thought while addressing the inequities specific to Chinese society. A.T. Nuyen, a philosophy professor writing from Singapore in 2003, identifies a divide between the political aspects and the philosophical foundations of Confucianism.20 Much like the “false notions of Confucianism”21 which Hé blames for Ban’s delusion, Nuyen emphasizes the inequalities and hierarchies of the tradition as being politically influenced, rather than being inherent to Confucianism as a whole.22 For Hé, Confucianism does not need to be entirely abandoned by feminist thinkers or revolutionaries. She instead addresses the institutions arising from preexisting power structures, which promote the subjection and maltreatment of women and justify those through Confucianism. Hé’s “ability to quote from the Confucian texts to make her historical points” is not only displayed in her opposition to the treatment of women by those texts.23 Nuyen writes that Hé’s emphasis on the “equality of worth and equality of educational opportunity [for women]” and her advocacy for rebellion against the tyranny of oppressive institutions is not divorced from the teachings derived from the Analects or The Mencius.24 Hé is unsatisfied by solutions of reform which arise in the West, and the revolution she seeks, founded in China’s distinct philosophical tradition, is therefore one which only China can effect. Li Xiaojiang follows Hé in her explanation of oppression as more than simply a class problem, an ideology problem, or a government problem. Li sees the status of women being left behind by the Communist Party as an indication that “women’s problems [still] come from every direction.”25 The failure of institutions 19.  Li, 773. 20.  Nuyen, “Confucianism, Globalisation, Universalism,” 157. 21.  Hé, “Women’s Revenge,” 724. 22.  Nuyen, “Confucianism, Globalisation, Universalism,” 153. 23.  Zarrow, “Hé Zhèn and Anarcho-Feminism,” 809. 24.  Nuyen, “Confucianism, Globalisation, Universalism,” 153. 25.  Li, “Awakening of Women’s Consciousness,” 733.


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to protect and empower women are still prevalent and pervasive, even after the revolution for which Hé advocated. “These earth-shattering women’s issues,” as Li describes them, have not disappeared with the introduction of Communist assertions of equality.26 In the same way that Hé challenges the status quo of her time, Li places the blame on “the weakness of conventional theory.”27 Like the oppressive forces which came before them, these have become pervasive in Li’s own society, and serve to naturalize and reinforce the oppression of women in post-revolutionary socialist China. Hé’s abandonment of nationalism in her address of social and economic institutions points to their inherent oppression of women. She dismantles these institutions with the same arguments that serve them. Insofar as the subjugation of women is a necessary part of both capitalism and Confucianism, the resulting second-class status of women is naturalized by these two systems. For Hé, this is the exact reason that they should be left behind by a social and political revolution. Li engages with Hé’s position as she furthers the conversation about female oppression. Even after Hé’s demand for revolution was met, Li identifies that women still experience a second-class status as their rights are ignored by their government. While the oppression of women has historical roots in Confucianism, the grounds for feminist theory are also found in a particular branch of its tradition and scholarship. This Confucian history of fighting the powers that be—utilized here in a distinctly feminist light—draws upon a rich tradition of revolutionary spirit in China, one which seeks to create a more equal world. 

26.  Li, 733. 27.  Li, 733.


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Bibliography Ban, Zhao. “Excerpts from Admonitions for Women.” In From Earliest Times to 1600, edited by William Theodore de Bary and Irene Bloom, 821–882. Vol. 1 of Sources of Chinese Tradition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Engels, Friedrich. The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1972. Hé, Zhèn. “Women’s Revenge.” In Sources of East Asian Tradition: The Modern Period, ed. W. Theodore de Bary, 722–724. Vol. 2 of Introduction to Asian Civilizations. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Kow, Simon. “Modern Chinese Thought.” Lecture for Asia and the West course, University of King’s College, Halifax, NS, November 27, 2017. ———. “Neo-Confucian Synthesis.” Lecture for Asia and the West course, University of King’s College, Halifax, NS, October 2, 2017. Li, Xiaojiang. “Awakening of Women’s Consciousness.” In Sources of East Asian Tradition: The Modern Period, ed. W. Theodore de Bary, 773. Vol. 2 of Introduction to Asian Civilizations. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Nuyen, A. T. “Confucianism, Globalisation and the Idea of Universalism.” Asian Philosophy 13, no. 2–3 (2003): 148–158. https://www.tandfonline. com/doi/abs/10.1080/0955236032000162727. The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. Translated by R.T. Ames and H. J. Rosemont. New York: Ballantine Books, 1998. Zarrow, Peter. “Hé Zhèn and Anarcho-Feminism in China.” The Journal of Asian Studies 47, no. 4 (November 1988): 796–813. https://libcom.org/files/ He%20Zhen%20and%20Anarcha-Feminism%20in%20China.pdf.


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Hannah Sparwasser Soroka

I

am graduating from the University of King’s College. This is the first poem I have ever published.

- Hannah Sparwasser Soroka


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Some Thoughts on #metoo

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eeing think piece after think piece of people confronting their trauma and their traumatizers has turned me into a chestnut shell—bile-green and spiny and hollow. I am proud of those of you who have come forward and I am proud of those of you who have not. Every time I see another loved one step forward, I want to give them a hug, knowing, of course, that hugs are not always wanted or needed. But even wanted, needed hugs are only tiny moments of my soft, fleshy body adding a layer of borrowed padding to theirs. I go into rooms with men I know. I put my hands on their knees. I play with my hair. I sigh. I look at my shoes. I use soft words; not too many hard consonants; certainly not the letter “p”; certainly not the single syllable that bursts into the room, slams the door, and stands, screaming, on the table. In my shoes, I curl my toes. I clench my calves until they cramp and pulse with pain. I do not allow the pain in my legs to move me to stand up, to slam the door, to climb onto the table. I do not allow the scream which has already taken root in my diaphragm to grow up my throat and burst into bloom. I want to look every loved one in the eye and say: “You too? Me too. Solidarity.” I listen to men I know. I tell them that it’s okay. I promise it’s okay. I’m okay. I tell them there was nothing they could have done. I tell them there was nothing I could have done. I assure them of these facts even though I, myself, am unsure.


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I assure them that I don’t have nightmares about it, because I don’t. I assure them that I’m not afraid of men, because I’m not. Most of the time, I’m not. I’m not afraid of them, certainly, although I suspect that they may now be afraid of me because the ugly swarm of violation hangs over me and follows me around like a curse. Of course, they’ve never known me without that swarm buzzing around my shoulders. I do not let them in on the secret completely, but now they know there is one and the cloud becomes visible. I want to scream, “metoometoometoo” forever and ever and I want to scream that I do not owe anyone my pain, that I do not want to be somebody’s person-whogot-hurt who galvanizes them into recognizing other people-who-got-hurt, that we do not exist to galvanize anybody over the things that were done to our bodies. So this is my way of saying “me too” and my way of saying “don’t ask me to.”


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Rachel Colquhoun

I

am a third-year student in Contemporary Studies and German, with a minor in Political Science. I was fortunate enough to see Fun Home: A New Broadway Musical a few years ago in New York. I fell hard for the show, as both a lover of musicals and a queer girl™. When I got the chance to write a deep analysis of the show a few years later, my little heart could not take it. Fun Home is the first musical in Broadway history with a lesbian protagonist. While representation sometimes becomes politicized, what matters to me is that a little queer girl™ who loves musicals can look up at a stage and see herself reflected. This paper explores how we can get to that moment in the first place.

- Rachel Colquhoun


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Centre Stage Recognition

Queer Visibility in Fun Home: A New Broadway Musical

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n the Broadway musical Fun Home, adapted by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori from Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical graphic novel of the same name, Bechdel’s character exclaims that “chaos never happens if it’s never seen.”1 This lyric is sung in relation to Alison and her siblings cleaning their restored historical home to allow their father to have visitors. However, the lyric repeats in various other contexts throughout the lives of the characters, showcasing the musical’s theme of visibility. Fun Home tells both the story of Bechdel’s own coming out as a lesbian and the story of her closeted gay father’s life and eventual suicide. These kinds of stories are not usually public. By using the medium of theatre, the musical adaptation of Fun Home makes visible the private or hidden elements of queer life and death. Through this visibility, both from the perspective of the audience and between the characters themselves, Fun Home moves the lives of the queer characters into the realm of the visible and thereby gives them credence as real experiences. This shift subverts the paradigm of queerness’s typical existence in shadows. As a theatrical work, Fun Home explores visibility, queer lives, and death, and how the intersections or lack thereof of those three concepts affect a queer person’s recognition as a living being. Fun Home covers all the main moments of Alison’s and her father Bruce’s lives as queer individuals: childhood, questioning, coming-out, sexual initiation, relationships to family members, death, and remembrance. The storyline is not linear and instead switches between three of Alison Bechdel’s ages. The musical book refers to the three ages as Small Alison, Medium Alison, and Alison. Small 1.  Kron, “Welcome to Our House on Maple Avenue,” 1:25–1:30.


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Alison is a child, Medium Alison is a freshman in college, and Alison is her fortythree-year-old self who is in the process of creating the work that would become the graphic novel. The name Fun Home comes from her nickname for the family-owned funeral home that her father operated. The set of the musical switches between the family home, the “Fun Home,” her college dorm, and Route 180 where her father stepped in front of a truck. The story switches between emotionally significant moments for all the versions of Alison, while the adult Alison watches from the background and tries to create the comic strips as she watches specific moments occur. Small Alison primarily attempts to deal with her inability to adopt a heteronormative feminine gender role while her father sleeps with a slew of underage boys. Small Alison remains unaware of this fact. Medium Alison comes to terms with her lesbian identity as she begins to see her first girlfriend, Joan. She comes out to her parents only to learn that her father had been having affairs with young men throughout her parents’ marriage. This marriage falls apart and Bruce commits suicide. Forty-three-year-old Alison watches her life and her father’s life go by from the background and tries to reconcile her relationship with her father along with her own individuality and sexuality. As a medium, theatre implies visibility. Actors create a story in direct light on a stage for an audience to watch without necessarily engaging with the scene itself. By contrast, queer lives are often hidden. Even the language used when discussing queerness confirms the private or secret nature of queer moments. The term “in the closet” implies being shut away in a private and domestic place; there is nothing public about the phrase. By showing queer lives and death in a space that is inherently meant to be seen—a theatre—Fun Home eliminates the hidden or private elements of queerness. Immediately after she comes out, Alison says that she “leapt out of the closet.”2 The phrase “leapt out” insinuates a forceful dispelling of her previous state. As Alison “leaps out of the closet,” the audience watches her do so. In the moment that Medium Alison discovers her sexuality after her first sexual encounter with Joan, the bed is centre stage. Medium Alison sings a glorious ballad about lesbian sex called “Changing My Major” in the immediate aftermath. The location of the bed and the ballad Medium Alison sings demand that the audience sees her lesbian sexuality. By putting these queer moments on a stage and focusing on them for an audience to watch, Fun Home brings normally “closeted” moments into the realm of the visible and makes the audience acknowledge their existence. 2.  Kron, “I Leapt Out of the Closet,” 0:11–0:13.


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Besides making queer lives visible, Fun Home makes queer deaths visible. As “Fun Home” refers to the Bechdel family funeral home, the title of the show itself immediately brings the audience into the world of death and burial. Near the beginning of the show, Small Alison and her two brothers perform a song called “Come to the Fun Home,” where they dance on top of and inside a coffin. Death permeates the set. Furthermore, half of Fun Home follows the road to Bruce Bechdel’s suicide, which occurs in the penultimate song. In her essay on the graphic novel, “Drawing the Archive in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home,” Ann Cvetkovich looks at intergenerational trauma and death. On the subject of how Fun Home recounts Bruce’s suicide, she writes that showing “the single death, that of Bechdel’s father, someone who might be categorized (however problematically) as a pedophile, suicide, or closet homosexual, raises the possibility that there are some lives that are not ‘grievable,’ certainly not in the public context.”3 In this description she references Judith Butler’s concept of grievability from the latter’s book Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? Butler explores the notion that there are some human lives that are not viewed as such. Since those lives are not viewed as lives, their deaths are not viewed as losses because no “lives” are lost. She writes that “if certain lives do not qualify as lives or are, from the start, not conceivable as lives within epistemological frames, then these lives are never lived nor lost in the full sense.”4 Though Butler wrote her theory of grievability in reference to war, the same concept of “lives that do not qualify as lives” translates to queer experience. Butler writes that “specific lives cannot be apprehended as injured or lost if they are not first apprehended as living.”5 Given that so many elements of queer lives are “closeted,” those experiences are not apprehended as existing because they are not visible. Besides the archaic notion of degeneracy associated with homosexuality, queer lives cannot be recognized as grievable because they are often not publicly recognized as lived in the first place. Bruce Bechdel’s queer experiences are hidden. He is married to a woman and is the father of three children. Medium Alison only discovers her father’s queerness when her mother admits it following Medium Alison’s acceptance of her own sexuality. Bruce, unlike his daughter, does not “leap out of the closet.” Furthermore, Bruce is a problematic individual. He engages in affairs with young boys, he sneaks out of a hotel room to pick up a hustler, and he sleeps with the babysitter. However, by making his history visible, Fun Home subverts the hiddenness of Bruce’s story, regardless of its problems. Cvetkovich speaks to this regard3.  Cvetkovich, “Drawing the Archive,” 111. 4.  Butler, Frames of War, 1. 5.  Butler, 1.


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ing the graphic novel, saying that “Fun Home dares to claim historical significance and public space not only for a lesbian coming-out story but also for one that is tied to what some might see as shameful sexual histories.”6 By placing this “shameful” sexuality centre stage, Fun Home apprehends Bruce Bechdel’s life as a life that was lived and, despite his problems, moves him into the realm of the grievable according to Butler. By making Bruce Bechdel’s life visible to an audience, Fun Home gives it the ability to be understood as a life that can in turn be mourned. Fun Home subverts the ungrievability of queer lives by making them visible as lives that are lived. Fun Home also explores visibility between the characters themselves. There are several key moments in which the characters are unable to witness each other’s lives. Bruce and Alison have several of these “missed encounters.” The most notable occurs when Alison and Bruce go for a car ride on the last night that Medium Alison sees her father before his suicide. In the musical, Medium Alison swaps out with forty-three-year-old Alison, so that the elder re-experiences this moment with hindsight and knowledge of the outcome. Alison attempts several times to talk to her father about their mutual queerness but never manages to get much out of him besides a brief story about a lover he had in college. Regarding this scene in the graphic novel, Cvetkovich writes that “their brief explicit acknowledgement of a shared homosexuality just before his death is something of a missed encounter.”7 In the musical, forty-three-year-old Alison has a heightened awareness of the significance of their “missed encounter.” Looking back on it from over twenty years later, she sings “Telephone wire / Stop! Too fast / Telephone wire / Make this not the past / This car ride / This is where it has to happen / There must be some other chances / There’s a moment I’m forgetting / Where you tell me you see me.”8 The lyrics are sung with desperation as Alison knows that this was her last opportunity to connect with her father before his death. However, Bruce cannot see Alison. Though Alison’s attempt to acknowledge their shared queerness is visible to the audience, the characters themselves remain trapped. The audience members are witnesses to Alison’s sexuality, whereas Bruce is not. In comparison, Alison acts as witness to Bruce’s sexuality. The fortythree-year-old Alison watches the show along with the audience, but with information given her by twenty years of hindsight. In relation to the act of witnessing in the graphic novel, Cvetkovich writes: To become a “witness” (either literally or more indirectly) to anyone’s 6.  Cvetkovich, “Drawing the Archive,” 112. 7.  Cvetkovich, 113. 8.  Kron, “Telephone Wire,” 3:19–3:39.


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sexuality is a difficult documentary task, given its frequent privacy or intimacy, and this general secrecy can be further heightened when that sexuality is constructed as immoral or criminal or perverse.9 Throughout the graphic novel, Alison acts as a witness as both the narrator of the story and the person creating the graphic novel which reveals Bruce’s sexuality. In the musical, Alison stands with the audience as they watch the story: her eldest form acts as an audience member to her own life and to her father’s sexuality within that narrative. As forty-three-year-old Alison writes the graphic novel Fun Home throughout the show, she has the knowledge of the end of the story. Therefore, she has the capacity to witness several of Bruce’s moments within their queer context. When Bruce leaves her younger self in a hotel room to pick up a hustler, forty-three-year-old Alison can recognize Bruce’s departure for what it is, in comparison to Small Alison who remains unaware of the circumstances. In the musical, Alison’s ability to act as witness to a difficult sexuality works because she witnesses it in real time. Forty-three-year-old Alison witnesses her father’s sexuality along with the audience; she simultaneously documents it by creating her graphic novel panels as the scenes from her memories are played out in front of her. At the end of the first song, as Alison watches her Small version play “airplane” with her father, she tries to document the moment. She speaks: “Caption—my dad and I were exactly alike. Caption—my dad and I were nothing alike. Caption—my dad and . . . my dad and I.”10 However, she is unable to fully realize their relationship or their shared sexuality in the moment. She works through her own confusion with what she remembers at the same time as the audience. At the end of the next major musical number, she is able to finish the caption for that panel. She speaks, with more certainty, “Caption—my dad and I both grew up in the same small, Pennsylvania town, and he was gay and I was gay and he killed himself. And I became a lesbian cartoonist.”11 The realization of their shared homosexuality and its relation to her father’s suicide happens as Alison works through her own thoughts. During the first song, forty-three-year-old Alison sings “I can’t abide romantic notions / Of some vague long ago / I want to know what’s true / Dig deep into who / And what / And why / And when / Until now gives way to then.”12 Her father sings the same lyric earlier in the song, and again while Alison sings. Alison’s documentation of her and her father’s stories comes from an attempt to 9.  Cvetkovich, “Drawing the Archive,” 114. 10.  Kron, “It All Comes Back (Opening),” 4:51–5:04. 11.  Kron, “Welcome to Our House on Maple Avenue,” 4:06–4:21. 12.  Kron, “It All Comes Back (Opening),” 4:11–4:26.


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work through her memories in real time over the course of the show, along with the audience’s own witnessing of the events. In the finale of the show, Alison has the final line, saying, “Caption—every so often there was a rare moment of perfect balance when I soared above him.”13 Her concluding line harkens back to the opening moment of the show as Small Alison plays “airplane” with her father. The “rare moment of perfect balance” reveals forty-three-year-old Alison’s success at reconciling her relationship with her father through her own ability to understand and act as witness to his sexuality and understand its relation to her own. Though forty-three-year-old Alison acts as witness to the plot because she watches periods of her lifetime occur outside of her memories, she is not the only version of herself to engage in character visibility. In one of the most emotionally charged ballads of the show, Small Alison sees a butch woman at a diner and feels as if she is the only one to notice her. As forty-three-year-old Alison explains this moment, she says, “[my father] didn’t notice her at first but I saw her the moment she walked in.”14 The discrepancy between the butch woman’s visibility to Bruce and to Small Alison allows Small Alison a moment to focus on the woman’s appearance. Small Alison has never seen a butch woman before and feels a connection with her though the two never interact. In the moment prior to the woman entering the diner, Bruce had demanded that Small Alison wear her barrette, forcing her into a feminine gender role. The appearance of the butch woman is therefore directly juxtaposed with Bruce’s insistence on the femininity of Small Alison’s appearance, an insistence which appears in other parts of the plot—most notably when the two fight over whether or not Small Alison must wear a dress to a party. As Small Alison sees the butch woman, she sings out “Do you feel my heart saying hi? / In this whole luncheonette / Why am I the only one who see you’re beautiful? / No, I mean / handsome.”15 The butch woman’s visibility creates a connection between them and allows Small Alison to recognize her own identity and sexuality in the woman. Small Alison sings, “It’s probably conceited to say / But I think we’re alike in a certain way.”16 Alison recognizes her own sexuality in the sexuality of the other woman, though she does not come out for another ten years after this moment. She sings, “I thought it was supposed to be wrong / But you seem okay with being strong.”17 Through the visibility and recognition of her personal sexuality in another, Small Alison gains some self-acceptance for her own 13.  Kron, “Flying Away (Finale),” 3:06–3:16. 14.  Kron, “Ring of Keys,” 0:03–0:07. 15.  Kron, 1:54–2:17. 16.  Kron, 1:19–1:25. 17.  Kron, 1:05–1:11.


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personhood. The visibility in Fun Home unfolds with the aid of hindsight offered by forty-three-year-old Alison’s memory. Her understanding of her father changes over the course of the show, allowing him to become visible to her by the end of the story. The final song of the musical is “Flying Away.” It returns to the first motif of the show, with Small Alison playing a game of airplane with Bruce. It is the only song in the show where all three versions of Alison sing with each other. It consists of many repetitive lyrics from other songs, but a different version of Alison sings each lyric. Forty-three-year-old Alison sings the lyrics that her small self had sung in the opening about playing airplane, and Medium Alison sings several lyrics from “Telephone Wire” that were originally sung in hindsight by forty-three-year-old Alison. By the end of the song all three versions of Alison sing in unison. As Alison reconciles all the versions of herself in the finale, she also reconciles herself with her father’s life through the aforementioned moment of “perfect balance.” By exploring their two queer lives concurrently, Fun Home shines a light on their two very different queer experiences. By witnessing these experiences, the audience provides Bruce and Alison with the visibility and recognition they need to be viewed as “lives regarded as lives.” Since Fun Home is autobiographical, the lived reality of the narrative underlies the whole show. Cvetkovich states that “[Alison Bechdel] has suggested that she draws actual photographs to remind the reader that her story is connected to actual lives.”18 Fun Home is based on the real lives of Alison, Bruce, and their family. Because Bruce Bechdel was a real person, his life was a “life that was lived” outside of art and fiction. The show is a way to explain the intricate and problematic elements of his life while still affording him the title of “life.” Fun Home’s existence memorializes Bruce Bechdel’s life by moving his hidden attributes into the realm of the visible. After the first production of Fun Home opened, Alison Bechdel published a cartoon strip for her local paper explaining her reaction to watching the show. Her mother had died by the time the show premiered. In the final panel of the cartoon strip, Bechdel writes, “my parents—who had met, as it happened, in a play—would get to go on living in one.”19 Fun Home acts as an artistic memorial for Bruce by acknowledging his multifaceted experiences, thus making him grievable. Through putting these lives centre stage, Fun Home demands queer recognition between the characters, from the audience, and in the still-closeted world into which Fun Home forcefully leapt. 18.  Cvetkovich, “Drawing the Archive,” 117. 19.  Bechdel, “Fun Home! The Musical!”


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Kron, Lisa. “Flying Away (Finale).” With Beth Malone, Emily Skeggs, and Sydney Lucas. Track 27 on Fun Home (A New Broadway Musical). PS Classics, 2015. MP3 audio. ———. “I Leapt Out of the Closet.” With Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas, Michael Cerveris, and Judy Kuhn. Track 11 on Fun Home (A New Broadway Musical). PS Classics, 2015. MP3 audio. ———. “It All Comes Back (Opening).” With Sydney Lucas, Michael Cerveris, and Beth Malone. Track 1 on Fun Home (A New Broadway Musical). PS Classics, 2015. MP3 audio. ———. “Ring of Keys.” With Sydney Lucas and Beth Malone. Track 18 on Fun Home (A New Broadway Musical). PS Classics, 2015. MP3 audio. ———. “Telephone Wire.” With Beth Malone and Michael Cerveris. Track 23 on Fun Home (A New Broadway Musical). PS Classics, 2015. MP3 audio. ———. “Welcome to Our House on Maple Avenue.” With Judy Kuhn, Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas, Griffin Birney, Noah Hinsdale, Michael Cerveris and Joel Perez. Track 3 on Fun Home (A New Broadway Musical). PS Classics, 2015. MP3 audio.


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Bibliography Bechdel, Alison. “Fun Home! The Musical!” Seven Days, July 2, 2014. https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/fun-home-the-musical/Content?oid=2393463. Butler, Judith. Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? New York: Verso, 2009. Cvetkovich, Ann. “Drawing the Archive in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home.” Women’s Studies Quarterly 36, no. 1/2 (Spring–Summer 2008): 111–128. www. stor.org/stable/27649738.


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Claire Guatto

I

am a third year King’s student majoring in International Development and minoring in German. This paper was written for a class called Global Health in the 21st Century, which is an INTD course. I have always taken an interest in health and health policy, so I took the chance to use this class to investigate these topics more closely, while focusing in on the Canadian health care system. As such, I brought a critical perspective to the current health policies Canada employs. What I find particularly important about this topic is the realization that our system is far from perfect, and that it sustains and even enforces many underlying problems with Canadian society. Through my discussion of the development of type 2 diabetes, I attempt to draw out some of the social, economic, environmental, and cultural factors that affect health of Nunavummiut Inuit people, yet are often ignored by governing health care policies.

- Claire Guatto


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Type 2 Diabetes in Nunavummiut Inuit Comunities An Examination of Factors Contributing and Not Contributing to its Development

T

he Inuit population in Nunavut, Canada faces many systemic barriers to health that contribute to the likelihood of individuals within their communities developing type 2 diabetes—none of these barriers are genetic. This paper will discuss some of the most pressing social, cultural, economic, and environmental determinants of health that contribute to elevated levels of type 2 diabetes in Inuit communities. Social determinants include misinformation distributed by the government regarding “thrifty genes,” a lack of health care services, and low high school completion levels exacerbated by a mistrust of government resources. Meanwhile, cultural determinants include a lack of culturally appropriate health care and a dismissal of Indigenous knowledge. Economic determinants include the socio-economic conditions that lead to elevated levels of poverty among Inuit communities, as poverty in these regions contributes to food insecurity and a lack of access to traditional foods. Lastly, environmental determinants of health include rural isolation, weather, and climate change in Nunavut, which create barriers to health care that are exacerbated by a lack of support in rural areas. These social, cultural, economic, and environmental determinants of health in turn affect individual lifestyle factors, such as nutrition and exercise. Taken together, these many interrelated determinants of health all contribute to the elevated levels of type 2 diabetes among Inuit communities in Nunavut. Misinformation perpetuated by government sources is a social determinant of health that leads to the normalized, and consequently elevated, levels of type 2 diabetes among Nunavummiut Inuit. Health Canada describes type 2 diabetes as a preventable or postponable lifelong condition in which a person’s body


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does not use the insulin that it produces effectively.1 In accordance with this understanding of type 2 diabetes, they provide a list of risk factors as well as activities that individuals can do in order to mitigate or postpone the disease’s development. Examples of these activities include not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating meals that are balanced according to the Canada Food Guide, regularly engaging in physical activity, and maintaining a normal blood pressure. However, in their list of risk factors, they couple being overweight or having high cholesterol with “being a member of a high risk ethnic group.”2 Health Canada justifies this conflation, listing people of non-white ethnicities as higher risk, in their statement through Diabetes Canada that “the traditional lifestyle of Aboriginal peoples was active and included eating healthy foods. Today, lifestyles have changed. People are not as active, and they eat less healthy food. This is one reason why Aboriginal people have a much higher risk of diabetes than other Canadians.”3 Arguing that type 2 diabetes rates among Inuit communities are elevated due to deviation from the traditional lifestyles of Indigenous peoples contributes to the narrative that type 2 diabetes is genetic, and thus normalizes the disease. This is called the “thrifty gene” argument, a hypothesis that has limited supporting evidence.4 The thrifty gene hypothesis theorizes that certain groups of peoples whose ancestors have more recently lived off the land, such as Indigenous peoples, are inherently accustomed to more exercise and to food that could be obtained by hunting or gathering. Supposedly, their genes reflect this lifestyle and try to preserve fatty foods in order to build fat reserves and protect the body from cold in times of stress.5 However, while there have been up to forty genes found that could be associated with type 2 diabetes, “these genes only account for 10% of the overall genetic component to the disease.”6 Research shows that the perception of type 2 diabetes as genetically predisposed can make some Inuit people feel as though the disease is inevitable, or that it is a part of the normal aging process. This makes them less likely to act preventatively.7 Arguments that rely on genetics as paramount to the development of type 2 diabetes are harmful to individuals of all “non-white ethnicities,” but particularly to Inuit communities in Nunavut due to the additional challenges, particularly regarding health care, that this popula1.  Government of Canada, “Type 2 Diabetes.” 2.  Government of Canada. 3.  Diabetes Canada, “Diabetes in the Aboriginal Community.” 4.  Beil, “Ancient Genes, Modern Meals,” 21. 5.  “ Diabetes Theory: Frugal Genes,” 118. 6.  Sahota, “Genetic Histories,” 831. 7.  Sahota, 837.


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tion faces. Labelling type 2 diabetes as postponable perpetuates the false perception of type 2 diabetes as a normal condition, which provides a disincentive for individuals to seek medical help. As Sahota points out, “genotype hypothesis obscures social and political-economic factors related to the diabetes epidemic among Native Americans.”8 The misrepresentation of type 2 diabetes as genetic— but only if you’re not white—is presumably where Health Canada’s description of type 2 diabetes as “postponable” comes into play. A disease that is not genetically determined cannot be postponable, only preventable. “Postponable” suggests that there is an inherent quality to an individual that makes their development of the disease in the future inevitable. This posits a genetic cause. The difference between labelling a disease “preventable” as opposed to “postponable” is enormous, particularly when the effects of this disease include heart disease, blindness, amputation of lower limbs, erectile dysfunction, nerve damage, and stroke.9 Misrepresentations of type 2 diabetes as genetic and postponable does harm to non-white ethnic groups, particularly the Nunavummiut Inuit population, by normalizing it among Inuit communities and creating the perception that the development of type 2 diabetes is part of the aging process. When a disease is normalized, the chances of individuals acting preventatively is lower because they do not feel that they can change their situation.10 Those at risk, or already suffering, are less likely to go to the doctor and therefore less likely to be diagnosed and receive treatment. Thus, Inuit people are more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes and its effects—not for genetic reasons, but because of perpetuated systems of discrimination that label the causes “genetic” so as to normalize the suffering of this disease. This creates a cycle of normalization, not seeking treatment, and suffering more so without treatment or diagnosis. Lack of access to health care is another social determinant of health that contributes to elevated levels of type 2 diabetes among Nunavummiut Inuit individuals. Health care for Indigenous individuals is lacking—so much so that the life expectancy of Inuit individuals is nearly fifteen years lower than the Canadian average. In 2017, Statistics Canada reported that “the life expectancy for the total Canadian population is projected to be 79 for men and 83 years for women. Among the Aboriginal population the Inuit have the lowest projected life expectancy in 2017, of 64 years for men and 73 years for women.”11 The lack of attention 8.  Sahota, 825. 9.  Government of Canada, “Type 2 Diabetes.” 10.  Sahota, “Genetic Histories,” 837. 11.  Statistics Canada, “Life Expectancy.”


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paid to Inuit health is indicative of an absence, or failure, of public health services in these communities. As Furgal and Seguin explain, monitoring of community health is missing because of a lack of support from institutional bodies.12 A lower life expectancy is indicative of poor community health, and shows that the health care currently provided does not sufficiently address community needs. An economic determinant of health that contributes to high rates of type 2 diabetes is elevated living costs, which contribute to, and are exacerbated by, poverty. Low income and high food costs contribute to the creation of food insecurity, a risk factor that heightens the likelihood of the development of the disease. Poverty, elevated living costs, and food insecurity cyclically exacerbate one another, and, along with the social, cultural, and environmental determinants, create an environment in which the risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes is exceedingly high. Living costs and food costs are disproportionately elevated in Canada’s Arctic. Ford marked that, in 2008, the price of food to feed a family of four was twice as much as the same items were in Montreal.13 High grocery prices exacerbate type 2 diabetes because processed foods are often more affordable than their healthier substitutes. The average family income in Nunavut in 2015 was lower than the national average by $13,080.14 In cases where the cost of fruits and vegetables are exceedingly higher than the costs of processed, boxed foods, families who do not earn a high income are forced to opt for cost-effective options, which are often high in sugars and fats. Food costs are so high that “more than 70 percent of households in Nunavut with preschool children experience food insecurity in the course of the year.”15 Because type 2 diabetes can partially be caused by frequently eating foods that are high in sugar and fat, the high rates of diabetes among the Inuit population in Nunavut can be partially attributed to elevated food costs. The lack of access to culturally appropriate “country foods”—foods that were traditionally eaten by Inuit communities, including caribou, berries, duck, whale, seal, and fish16—is also caused by poverty, which bars Inuit families from being able to eat these foods because of the elevated prices associated with hunting17 and the high costs of these items in stores. Country foods, important for both culture and sustenance, can be found at some specialty stores; however, the price of these foods is higher than the price of other goods. The high price of eating 12.  Furgal and Seguin, “Climate Change, Health, Vulnerability,” 1968. 13.  Ford and Beaumier, “Feeding the Family,” 48. 14.  Statistics Canada, “Median Total Income.” 15.  Simon, “Canadian Inuit,” 884. 16.  Lougheed, “Arctic Traditional Food,” A392. 17.  Simon, “Canadian Inuit,” 884.


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traditional foods is also exacerbated by the elevated cost of hunting. As Ford discovered, “in 2008, a return caribou hunting trip . . . would necessitate a minimum of 240 litres of gasoline at a total cost of $340 ($1.50 per litre).”18 Expensive equipment, time-consuming hunting expeditions, and no guarantee of success has made hunting costly in not just monetary ways—being able to afford the time and the possibility of failure are also economic barriers. Moreover, land use activity regulations bar certain territories from being used to hunt or fish.19 Many traditional land use activities are currently illegal on certain lands, making cultural practices, particularly food gathering or hunting practices, excessively difficult to partake in or access. The high prices of nutritious foods and the inability to access traditional lands means that not only are Inuit people barred from practicing cultural and traditional activities that are intricately linked to procuring food from the land, but they are forced into buying more affordable foods, which are often processed and lack nutritional value. Aside from these social and economic determinants, cultural determinants of health also account for high rates of type 2 diabetes. Low high school completion levels among Inuit individuals result from a dismissal of Inuit knowledge. Health education is predominantly facilitated through provincial education, if not through the family or community: high schools are required to provide sexual education and health lessons. However, the lingering effects of the residential school system, among other factors, have led to communities deeply mistrusting the government, thus rendering any information coming from the government suspect. These sentiments disrupt Inuit education at a high school level and contribute to the high dropout rates among Inuit youth.20 Moreover, as Wilson remarks, Indigenous knowledge is not adopted or factored into national curricula. He argues that “schools are designed to indoctrinate new generations of children with the beliefs and values of the colonizing society, and Indigenous ways continue to be denigrated.”21 This contributes to feelings of mistrust towards government bodies and practices, and is evident in the up to 75 percent high school non-completion rates.22 Due to the fact that high school graduation rates are lower in Northern Canada than elsewhere in the country,23 youth are more vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity, further increasing the likelihood of their developing 18.  Ford and Beaumier, “Feeding the Family,” 49. 19.  Kant et al., “A Path Analysis,” 472. 20.  O’Gorman and Pandey, “Explaining Low High School Attainment,” 300. 21.  Wilson, “Indigenous Knowledge Recovery,” 366. 22.  Simon, “Canadian Inuit,” 883. 23.  O’Gorman and Pandey, “Explaining Low High School Attainment,” 297.


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type 2 diabetes. Individuals that distrust—with good cause—the government and the health services and lessons it provides, are less likely to seek medical help or receive a diagnosis. The lack of culturally appropriate health care options and the dismissal of traditional Inuit medicinal knowledge bar Nunavummiut Inuit from accessing adequate health care. A mistrust in government healthcare policies and practices has been cultivated for years, and cultural differences between doctors and patients lead many Inuit people to avoid hospitals unless absolutely necessary. As Durie explains, “where doctor and patient are from different cultural backgrounds the likelihood of misdiagnosis and non-compliance is greater.”24 Doctors are more likely to misdiagnose and disregard patients’ concerns, and, as a result, patients are less likely to return. Cultural alienation, particularly between doctor and patient, is prevalent in healthcare interactions in Nunavut. Understanding cultural knowledge surrounding the health conditions in specific communities is crucial to maintaining effective healthcare.25 Existing health care options may not be sufficient. Moreover, historical failures of the government to provide for Inuit communities continue to foster mistrust within those communities.26 Health care is seen by some as a continuation of the colonial narrative. Traditional Indigenous knowledge and practices are not taken into account when treating Indigenous people, an approach which is often interpreted as a form of assimilation. The dismissal of Inuit knowledge in the health care field contributes to Inuit individuals being less likely to visit the doctor, and they are therefore more likely to suffer from poor health while being less likely to receive diagnoses. Not only are the social, economic, and cultural determinants of health necessary to analyze in their relation to the perpetuation of dysfunctional and potentially harmful health care systems, environmental determinants are also exceedingly relevant factors when it comes to Inuit health and well-being. The environment in Nunavut is cold, snowy, and dark for most of the year. Communities are isolated: even Iqaluit, the capital, has only around 6,700 people. Isolation, both from other towns and from much of the Canadian population, limits access to health care professionals. Driving in the dark, on icy roads, to go see a doctor is not an option for many Inuit people, particularly if type 2 diabetes is normalized and therefore not viewed as a serious health concern. Moreover, a cold climate with a lot of snow and very little sunlight in the winter makes going outside for regular, 24.  Durie, “The Health of Indigenous Peoples,” 510. 25.  Durie, 510. 26.  O’Gorman and Pandey, “Explaining Low High School Attainment,” 300.


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day-to-day activities more difficult. In order to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, daily exercise is crucial. In an environment where exercising outside is unrealistic, and gyms are either nonexistent or have restrictively high membership fees, the likelihood of individuals exercising is low. Environmental determinants dictate communities’ abilities to be active and physically healthy, as well as limit their access to resources that could diagnose and treat type 2 diabetes. Climate change in Nunavut is an environmental determinant that indirectly contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes. Inuit communities traditionally rely on sea ice for travel and hunting purposes. According to a study conducted by Furgal, “sea ice travel is critical for accessing wildlife resources and traveling between communities during winter months.”27 Due to the rapidly melting sea ice in Nunavut—particularly around coastal, traditional hunting areas— normally reliable, safe routes are made treacherous.28 Under these conditions, individuals are less likely to travel to large city centres for healthcare, particularly when the disease is normalized. Moreover, climate change is creating new barriers in accessing food.29 An inability to access traditional foods forces Inuit people to shop in grocery stores. However, as previously discussed, affordable options in grocery stores are not necessarily healthy, which contributes to a poor diet. Climate change strengthens and exacerbates barriers created by environmental determinants of health in Nunavut, therefore contributing to elevated levels of type 2 diabetes. Social, cultural, economic, and environmental determinants of health all contribute to elevated levels of type 2 diabetes in Nunavummiut Inuit communities. Social determinants include Health Canada’s perpetuation of the misconception of type 2 diabetes as genetic or postponable, which contributes to the narrative that Indigenous people are inherently more susceptible to a non-genetic disease. In addition, the lack of health care services makes going to the doctor very difficult for Inuit individuals. The systemic failure to provide culturally appropriate health care as well as the dismissal of Inuit knowledge are both cultural determinants that contribute to a mistrust of the government and, in turn, a low high school graduation rate. This lowers the standard of education among Inuit youth, affecting their job prospects and rendering them more susceptible to poverty and food insecurity. Economic determinants of health, namely poverty, cause food insecurity, a high-risk factor in contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes. 27.  Furgal and Seguin, “Climate Change, Health, Vulnerability,” 1968. 28.  Furgal and Seguin, 1968. 29.  Simon, “Canadian Inuit,” 883.


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Environmental factors such as climate change and cold temperatures contribute to food insecurity and a limited ability to exercise. Poor diet and lack of exercise, being two of the biggest factors related to development of type 2 diabetes, are influenced by these social, economic, cultural, and environmental determinants of health and contribute to the challenges faced by the Nunavummiut Inuit communities. The ways in which these determinants feed into and reinforce one another creates a cycle that normalizes not only type 2 diabetes, but also the systems that allow for the health of this population to be marginalized and dismissed as “genetic.� 


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Bibliography Beil, L. “Ancient Genes, Modern Meals: Poking Holes in the Thrifty Gene Hypothesis.” Science News 186, no. 6 (2014): 18–22. https://www.jstor. org/stable/pdf/24367184.pdf. Diabetes Canada. “Diabetes in the Aboriginal Community.” 2017. http://www. diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/multicultural-resource/diabetes-in-the-aboriginal-community. “Diabetes Theory: Frugal Genes.” Science News 115, no. 8 (1974): 118. http:// www.jstor.org/stable/3963942. Durie, M. “The Health of Indigenous Peoples: Depends on Genetics, Politics, and Socioeconomic Factors.” BMJ: British Medical Journal 326, no. 7388 (2003): 510–511. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25453844. Ford, J., and M. Beaumier. “Feeding the Family during Times of Stress: Experience and Determinants of Food Insecurity in an Inuit Community.” The Geographical Journal 177, no. 1 (2011): 44–61. http://www.jstor.org/ stable/41238004. Furgal, C., and J Seguin. “Climate Change, Health and Vulnerability in Canadian Northern Aboriginal Communities.” Environmental Health Perspectives 114, no. 12 (2006): 1964–1970. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4119614. Government of Canada. “Type 2 Diabetes.” 2015. https://www.canada.ca/en/ public-health/services/diseases/type-2-diabetes.html. Harper, S.L., V.L. Edge, C.J. Schuster-Wallace, M. Ar-Rushdi, and S.A. McEwan. “Improving Aboriginal Health Data Capture: Evidence from a Health Registry Evaluation.” Epidemology and Infection 139, no. 11 (2011): 1774–1778. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41262746. Kant, S., I. Vertinsky, B. Zheng, and P. Smith. “Social, Cultural, and Land Use Determinants of the Health and Well-Being of Aboriginal peoples of Can-


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Lougheed, T. “The Changing Landscape of Arctic Traditional Food.” Environmental Health Perspectives 118, no. 9 (2010): A386–A393. http://www. jstor.org/stable/20749139. O’Gorman, M., and M. Pandey. “Explaining Low High School Attainment in Northern Aboriginal Communities: An Analysis of the Aboriginal Peoples’ Surveys.” Canadian Public Policy 41, no. 4 (2015): 297–308. http:// www.jstor.org/stable/43699182. Ring, I., and N. Brown. “The Health Status of Indigenous Peoples and Others: The Gap is Narrowing in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand, But A Lot More Is Needed.” BMJ: British Medical Journal 327, no. 7412 (2003): 404–405. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25455312. Sahota, P.C. “Genetic Histories: Native American’s Accounts of Being at Risk for Diabetes.” Social Studies of Science 42, no. 6 (2012): 821–842. http:// www.jstor.org/stable/41721362. Simon, M. “Canadian Inuit: Where We Have Been and Where We are Going.” International Journal 66, no. 4 (2011): 879–891. http://www.jstor.org/ stable/23104399. Statistics Canada. “Life Expectancy.” 2017. https://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89645-x/2010001/life-expectancy-esperance-vie-eng.htm. Statistics Canada. “Median Total Income, by Family Type, by Province and Territory.” 2016. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/ cst01/famil108a-eng.html. Wilson, W. A. “Indigenous Knowledge Recovery is Indigenous Empowerment.” American Indian Quarterly 28, no. 3/4 (2004): 359–372. http://www. jstor.org/stable/4138922.


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Rooks Field-Green

I

am a trans and non-binary student attending the University of King’s College as well as Dalhousie University. The Frog and Toad stories were the queer tales that I desperately needed as a child and I am ludicrously excited to bring those subliminal messages into the spotlight of the Western children’s fiction canon. As a child, I was searching for characters that I could recognize myself in and the best I could find were gay men in amphibian forms caring desperately for each other. Thanks to Arnold’s masterworks I can push this love into fuller and more representative realms. A Swim is an adaptation of a tale by the same name within the Frog and Toad collection by the irreverent Arnold Lobel. A Swim tells the story of a genderqueer youth growing up in the Ontario land identified by its many lakes. Transphobia, cis-privilege, and TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism) behaviour are unfortunately not the elephants in the room; rather, it is a sexy, onepiece bathing suit that takes the cake.

- Rooks Field-Green


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A Swim There are three masc-presenting teenagers setting up for a beach day on a lake in Muskoka. They are all roughly sixteen years old. Randy pulls off his t-shirt; his shorts transform into swim trunks. Sam continues unpacking towels and sandwiches and sunscreen and a bottle of wine or whatever people bring to beaches. He is not paying attention to Randy. Marty stares at Randy in his swimwear and plays with the collar of their shirt squeamishly. Randy falls back in the way that one can do in the sand and on a bed but barely anywhere else. Randy. I love summer. Sam. Well maybe you could help a little? Randy quickly sits up and helps Sam set up their picnic. Randy. Sorry. Marty also begins to help. Sam, having finished setting up. There. (The three of them sit down in a row.) Ah, I could use a glass of wine. Marty tries to open the wine bottle with a bottle opener. They are not successful. Randy. Here, let me, man. Marty hands Randy the bottle. Marty, disheartened. Thanks. Randy picks up a corkscrew from their pack and opens the bottle. He pours three glasses. Randy. What a nice day for a swim. Sam pulls his sweater off—his chest is bare. He proceeds to pull his pants off, revealing the boxers he is wearing below. Marty watches Sam; Marty is visibly uncomfortable. Randy gets up to examine the water when he notices that Marty still has his t-shirt on.


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Randy. Marty, are you comin’, bud? Marty. Yes. (Marty stands up, they look around for a second then head off towards a pile of boulders.) I will go behind these rocks and put on my bathing suit. Randy. Okay, whatever man, I’m all set. Sam. I don’t wear a bathing suit. These (gestures towards his boxers) work just as well. Marty. Well, I do. After I put on my bathing suit, you must not look at me until I get into the water. Randy. Why not? Marty. Because I look funny in my bathing suit. That is why. Randy and Sam close their eyes when Marty comes out from behind the rocks. Marty is wearing their bathing suit. It is a woman’s one-piece bathing suit: blue-and-white and backless. It has a scoop neck. Marty. Don’t peek. Marty jumps into the water and Sam and Randy jump in after them. They swim all afternoon. Sam and Randy swim boisterously fast, making big splashes. Marty swims slowly and makes small splashes. Another teenager shows up on the beach. She is wearing a bikini. Marty. Sam, tell that girl to go away. I do not want her to see me in my bathing suit when I come out of the water. Sam swims over to the girl. Sam. Hey! Get out of here. Girl. Why should I? Randy, yelling from further away. Because Marty thinks that he looks funny in his bathing suit, and he doesn’t want you to see him. Some fishermen are floating nearby. Fisherman. Does Marty really look funny in his bathing suit? The girl’s mother walks out of the woods and onto the beach. Mother. If Marty looks funny in his bathing suit, then I, for one, want to see him. Two Fish, on the end of the fishermen’s hooks. We want to see him, too.


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The girl’s father joins his wife and child on the beach. Father. Me too. I haven’t seen anything funny in a long time. Mother looks away. Sam swims back to Marty and Randy. Randy. I’m sorry, Marty. Everyone wants to see how you’ll look. Marty. Then I will stay right here until they go away. The girl and her mother and father all sit on the beach. The fishermen and the fish bob on the lake. They all wait for Marty to come out of the water. Soon Randy and Sam dry off on the beach. Sam tries to divert the attention away from Marty by flirting with the teenage girl. Randy is concerned for Marty. The sun starts to go down. Marty shivers in the water. Randy. Please, please go away! No one leaves. Marty gets colder and colder. They shiver and sneeze. Marty. I will have to come out of the water. I am catching a cold. Randy quickly grabs a towel to wrap around Marty. Marty climbs out of the lake. The water drips out of their bathing suit and down onto their feet. Randy drops the towel on the sand. It lays there: forgotten. The girl laughs. The fishermen laugh. The mother laughs. [Presumably the fish laugh.] The father laughs. Sam and Randy laugh. Marty does not laugh. Marty. What are you laughing at, Randy? What are you laughing at, Sam? Sam. I’m laughing at you, Marty. Randy. Because you do look funny in your bathing suit. Marty. Of course I do. Marty picks up their clothes. Marty goes home.


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I

am an English and Contemporary Studies student who cares deeply about the decolonization of Canadian literature, enjoys discussing the distinction between “Canadian Literature” and “CanLit,” and thinks the claim that Canadian literature is boring is false. This paper is about a play by an Indigenous writer that engages with the photography of a white settler to consider Indigenous identity. I am a white settler, meaning I cannot speak with authority about the experiences presented in the play, and have kept this fact in mind while writing about The Edward Curtis Project. That being said, while the play is about Indigenous issues as written about by an Indigenous author, it is as much about the work of a white man who created and propagated deeply problematic images of Indigenous people—images which are often not characterized as such. I think it is important, as a settler, to consider these representations critically, so as to not replicate them; and to seek out and engage with representations of Indigeneity created by Indigenous people, so as to try and drown out the unauthorized representations which saturate media of all forms.

- Ghislaine Sinclair


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“I Am Not for Your Eyes” The Colonial Gaze in The Edward Curtis Project: A Modern Picture Story

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he Edward Curtis Project: A Modern Picture Story is a collaborative project between Métis/Dene playwright1 Marie Clements and photographer Rita Leistner. The play The Edward Curtis Project premiered in 2010 at Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver, accompanied by Leistner’s photography exhibit of the same name. The two pieces use the work of photographer Edward Curtis, specifically his attempt to document the Indigenous peoples of North America, to explore questions of contemporary Indigenous identity. Their choice to centre their work on Curtis’s book The North American Indian is especially poignant, and ironic, as his dedication to the decades-long project was motivated by his belief that the people he was photographing were on the brink of disappearing. Curtis’s photographs have long been read as bestowing dignity to groups being systematically decimated and marginalized, particularly in comparison to the most egregious representations of Indigenous people in popular culture, such as the use of red face on actors or cartoons of loincloth-clad “Natives.” This contrast, as well as the role his photographs have played as historical records, have led Curtis’s work to be appreciated for its apparently authentic and beautiful portrayal of North America’s Indigenous peoples. However, Marie Clements’s play and its partner photography project do not accept the assumption that Curtis’s depictions of Indigeneity are any more authentic or less insidious than those which are more obviously fabricated or overtly racist. As much as the play is a compassionate dialogue with a fictionalized Curtis that considers what these photographs mean for 1.  This is how Marie Clements is identified in the printed version of the play and photographs; in other places, such as the Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia, she is identified as simply Métis.


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contemporary Indigenous people, it is also very much a judgement of his photographs and his larger project of salvage anthropology. Curtis’s photographs, and the project which created them, are inherently colonial, and are thus inseparable from the violent implications of his white settler identity. Edward Curtis’s enterprise was necessarily built on colonial ideology because it assumed that the Indigenous peoples of North America were disappearing. In the play, when the audience sees Curtis at Carnegie Hall in 1911, the projection behind him reads “The Vanishing Indian.”2 By taking his photographs, Curtis was attempting to create a lasting record of peoples whose disappearance he believed to be inevitable because of the crushing weight of “advancing civilization.”3 This “inevitable” disappearance is what made Curtis believe in the monumental importance and value of his project, and also influenced the relation between photographer and photographed. The Indigenous people Curtis photographed are not subjects of the photographs but objects of Curtis’s gaze: he does not see them as they are but rather watches their supposed disappearance. In the play, Curtis is presented “in his prime,” according to the stage directions, an image contrasted with that of Angeline, the play’s protagonist. Angeline is of Dene and Russian-Canadian origin and is in the midst of an identity crisis generated in part by depictions of Indigenous people produced by settlers who have interrupted the development of Indigenous identity.4 The way in which the vanishing of Indigenous peoples has been integral to these depictions and how this has fetishized them in the eyes of white settlers is hinted at in some of the final lines of the play, as Angeline pleads to Curtis to “take the picture . . . if vanishing is so beautiful . . . take the picture . . . take the picture . . . if vanishing is so . . . beautiful . . . .”5 The projected “end” of Indigenous peoples makes images of their likenesses more “beautiful” in the eyes of settlers, as well as rendering those images more valuable and capable of generating more profit.6 The objectifying aspect of Curtis’s photographs is further revealed in the contrast between his and Rita Leistner’s photographs. Leistner’s contemporary photographs aim to document the survival and adaptation of Indigenous peoples. Leistner, like Curtis, is of settler origins, but the individuals she photographs are true subjects, as she gives them control over their photos rather than manipulating them as objects.7 Leistner allows the 2.  Clements, The Edward Curtis Project, 17. 3.  Clemants, 16. 4.  Clements, 17. 5.  Clements, 66. 6.  Clements, 66. 7.  Leistner, The Edward Curtis Project, 71–73.


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subjects to show their Indigeneity as they see fit, giving them agency in how they are represented. She is also, of course, photographing these communities having not disappeared as Curtis assumed they would; unlike Curtis, Leistner does not treat or perceive her subjects as commodities of which there are a finite supply. In contrast to Leistner’s photographs, Curtis’s reveal his fetishizing perspective. He shows his Indigenous subjects not as they are, but as the image of the “Noble Savage” that he is obsessed with. His portraits are thus not actually working to salvage facts about these cultures for future generations, but to capture an idealized settler-constructed image of Indigeneity which can outlast the people it is inspired by while existing exclusively for the colonial gaze. According to a Smithsonian Magazine article about Curtis’s project, he would take steps to ensure he was only photographing Indigenous people in traditional dress, regardless of whether these items were still used or worn. He went as far as to remove any signs of European influence, such as clocks or umbrellas, which may have been in the background.8 This process very much counters that of Rita Leistner, whose photographs often include obvious signs of the time in which they were taken. Clements explicitly refers to the criticism lodged against Curtis that his photographs are contrived, in her notes on staging which precede the play.9 She writes that his image of Indigenous people is overly simplified as it plays into audience expectations of what Indigeneity looks like. Curtis seeks to capture a “beautiful, poetic, mysterious, yet simple life” but believes this can be captured through the aesthetic elements of Indigenous ways of life without allowing space for how those aesthetics have changed in relation to their context.10 For Curtis, Indigenous people are thus connected to “eternal truths” as they are uncorrupted by changing times and can be used to teach Europeans about such truths. Since Curtis believes these groups to be disappearing, their material reality—including their ways of life and worldviews, and the ways in which those have evolved over time—can be utterly disregarded in favour of an abstract narrative of the group. In this case, the immortalized narrative presented by Curtis is that of the “Noble Savage.” The consequences of the propagation of this narrative on Indigenous identity in the twenty-first century are a significant part of the crisis Angeline faces in the play. Karina Eileraas’s11 paper “Reframing the Colonial Gaze: Photography, 8.  King, “Edward Curtis’ Epic Project.” 9.  Clements, The Edward Curtis Project, 10. 10.  Clements, 17. 11.  I have no knowledge of Eileraas’s personal background and whether or not she identifies as being a part of any particular marginalized group, but a look at her research shows she is dedicated to an intersectional feminist lens. The paper cited deals primarily with


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Ownership, Feminist Resistance” discusses the concept of “misrecognition” and the relationship that a member of a marginalized group can have with photos in which they are the objects of a gaze (whether that be male, colonial, or both) rather than the subjects. Misrecognition is defined as being the moment when an individual falsely identifies with an image, an imagined relation which then plays a role in the construction of the individual’s identity.12 Clements grapples with misrecognition through Angeline, a character who is struggling with her Indigenous identity and who is gifted a copy of Curtis’s book by her sister, who is half-Indigenous but more assimilated. Her sister, Dr. Clara, believes Angeline will be able to recognize herself in Curtis since she is herself a photojournalist.13 However, Angeline, looking at the book, says she has found a caption she can identify with when she finds the words “The Vanishing Indian.”14 As she writes these words below herself, the stage directions indicate that she is “lit like a beautiful Edward Curtis photograph.”15 Angeline is thus seeing herself in Curtis’s portraits, but the audience is meant to understand this identification as misrecognition. As her boyfriend Yiska reminds her, neither she nor Indigenous people are vanishing, and he insists that it is necessary they continue to survive.16 The lines between Curtis’s photographs and the real world of the play are similarly blurred when Yiska appears in a buffalo robe as if out of a Curtis photograph of a man wearing an identical coat.17 Yiska in this moment appears both as himself, an Indigenous man who celebrates his culture by donning traditional dress, and as the image of the “Noble Savage” which Curtis sought to capture. There is space for Angeline and Yiska to truly see aspects of themselves in Curtis’s work—her as she feels herself to be vanishing, him as he wears traditional clothing while living in the twenty-first century—but this seeing is misrecognition. Both Yiska and Angeline embody aspects of Curtis’s image of Indigeneity but must go to great pains to understand their own identities as infinitely more real and complex than his contrived, stereotypical, and dated renderings. The contrast between Angeline and Curtis as documentarians and journalists underscores the ways in which the colonial gaze can be seen in the framing of images. One of the ways photography cannot be free from subjectivity or photographs of Algerian women which were taken by a French photographer. 12.  Eileraas, “Reframing the Colonial Gaze,” 811. 13.  Clements, The Edward Curtis Project, 43. 14.  Clements, 16. 15.  Clements, 16. 16.  Clements, 44. 17.  Clements, 27.


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ideology is that it necessarily involves the choice of what is put in the frame and what is left out. A lot of Angeline’s anguish in the play is a result of having won an award for a piece she wrote about three Indigenous children who died from exposure while in the care of their alcoholic father. Angeline worries that she has only shown the tragedy of the children’s deaths rather than the complexities of the system which has led to the tragedy: she says that she has not told “the whole story.”18 Yiska responds to this confession with the thought that people are not interested in the “whole truth,” and that they “just want [Indigenous people] to disappear.”19 To only show the tragedy is to neglect to show the ways in which the resilience of Indigenous people is simultaneously part of the story of the children. Whereas Curtis only shows the glorified, eternal image of the “Noble Savage,” Angeline has only shown the tragic and stereotypical image of contemporary Indigeneity. Angeline fears that framing the lives of Indigenous people in this manner means that she has adopted the settler gaze of someone who wishes to see their image of Indigeneity projected back to them rather than see Indigenous people as they actually are. For the twentieth-century audience of Curtis’s photographs, to see the “Noble Savage” rather than a fully fleshed out human being authorizes the colonial project, as the literal disappearance of Indigenous peoples is not intrinsically tied to the disappearance of the “Noble Savage” as such. This trope can remain alive in the settler imagination without its flesh-and-blood counterparts, allowing the relationship settlers have to Indigenous people to collapse instead into a relationship to this trope. For the twenty-first-century settler audience of Angeline’s article, to see only the most tragic aspects of Indigenous life similarly naturalizes the colonial project, as it can appear inevitable or even necessary that the group’s portrayed dysfunctionality be eliminated through colonial domination. The way in which Clements most directly confronts and interrogates the colonizing aspect of Curtis’s photographs is in the discussion running through the play on the ownership of photographs. Curtis assumes ownership as he is the photographer, but this position is distinctly coded as that of a European settler through his conversation with Yiska. Holding Curtis’s photographs, Yiska questions Curtis whether the photos belong to him, even though they are of Indigenous people, and rips the photos in half when Curtis pleads for “[his] photos.”20 Throughout the play, Yiska is the wariest of Curtis’s presence, telling Curtis that “nobody who looks like [him] passes through without taking everything he can.”21 18.  Clements, 44. 19.  Clements, 45. 20.  Clements, 51. 21.  Clements, 38.


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Curtis’s assumed ownership of the photographs he takes is thus associated with the assumed ownership of land by European settlers. For Yiska, what matters is that his people are not for the eyes of the settler, ordering Curtis to “lower [his] need to see what is not for [him] . . . . Step backwards one clumsy foot at a time, backwards towards [his] own knowing.”22 While there is no explicit argument made about Indigenous ownership of these photographs, Yiska reminds Curtis that his way of understanding ownership is only one way among many. Curtis’s photographs, in which people are objectified and manipulated to suit the colonial gaze, were intended to be all that was left of these peoples. Yiska asks Curtis whether the individuals he photographed knew the ramifications of being pictured as a romanticized people on the brink of disappearing, frozen in time, rather than as images of people who would survive and adapt.23 Curtis believes this point to be irrelevant, assuming ownership of the photographs on the basis that he made sacrifices to realize his vision and that his models were paid for their work.24 However, Curtis does not simply own the material objects that he created; he is ultimately claiming ownership of the means by which a colonial narrative of Indigenous peoples has been propagated and reinforced. Marie Clements’s play is one which privileges the exploration of ideas over plot and asks the same of its viewers or readers, as events do not follow one another chronologically, and the play lacks the artificial plot structure of act or scene breaks. One of the central ideas being worked out within the play is whether the work of Edward Curtis has any relation to Indigenous identity in the twenty-first century, particularly as his photographs continue to be admired for their aesthetic merits and to serve as historical records. The characters of Angeline and Yiska ultimately reject Curtis’s image of Indigeneity, an image that is inseparable from the colonial project and that relies on a representation of Indigeneity that is only a trope. Curtis’s photographs work to preserve the idea of the “Noble Savage,” doomed to be crushed under the weight of civilization, rather than to preserve actual peoples. Clements does not hide the historical significance of these images, but, like her Indigenous characters, rejects them in favour of new depictions of Indigenous people which are real and complex. In writing this play, Clements is creating an artistic production in which the colonial gaze is neither necessary nor inevitable. She instead opens new ways of seeing Indigenous people and questions the audience as to why they continue to turn to the old ways of seeing; she asks the audience why they continue to admire Edward Curtis’s works at all. 22.  Clements, 27. 23.  Clements, 53. 24.  Clements, 53, 57.


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Bibliography Clements, Marie, and Rita Leistner. The Edward Curtis Project: A Modern Picture Story. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2010. Clements, Marie. The Edward Curtis Project. In The Edward Curtis Project: A Modern Picture Story. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2010. Eileraas, Karina. “Reframing the Colonial Gaze: Photography, Ownership, and Feminist Resistance.” MLN 118, no. 4 (September 2003): 807–840. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3251988. King, Gilbert. “Edward Curtis’ Epic Project to Photograph Native Americans.” Smithsonian Magazine, March 21, 2012. https://www.smithsonianmag. com/history/edward-curtis-epic-project-to-photograph-native-americans-162523282/. Leistner, Rita. The Edward Curtis Project. In The Edward Curtis Project: A Modern Picture Story. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2010.


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am a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Music at Dalhousie. I study the organ and recently applied to Dal’s composition stream. The intersection of music, philosophy, and other art forms is something that I find particularly interesting. In this case, looking at Isabella Leonarda’s music through a philosophical lens allowed me to think about the role of gender and how it could have affected or altered the philosophical ideals and disputes of her time.

- Isabelle Riche


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Rationalism, Emotionalism, and Gender through Isabella Leonarda’s Sonata Duodecimo

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he Norton Anthology of Western Music is used to classify which compositions hold importance in Western music history, and acts as a blueprint for canonical thinking. Each piece in the anthology is deemed to hold particular significance in the unfolding of music history. The exclusion of composer Isabella Leonarda from this anthology is a dismissal of an important figure. Interpreting and studying Leonarda’s work, such as her Sonata Duodecimo for violin, and its reception, can provide insight on the opposition between the French and Italian musical styles. Her sonata epitomizes the opposition that existed between Italian emotionalism and French rationalism in the form of gendered ideals. The neglect of her work, in the context of music in the Baroque era, demonstrates how gender ideals and sexism emerge in philosophical disputes surrounding music. The disaccord between rationalism and emotionalism is an example of how the rejection of certain ideologies can correlate to their association with femininity. There is a dearth of information about Isabella Leonarda. It is believed she was a noblewoman from Novara, Italy, who lived from 1620 to 1704.1 Kimberlyn Montford writes that Leonarda “wrote nearly 200 works, many of which were published during her lifetime,” and that “of twenty volumes of music, her sole instrumental publication, Sonate à 1. 2. 3. e 4 Instromenti, Op. 16 (Bologna, 1693), contains the earliest known published sonatas by a woman.”2 Leonarda’s gender is an obvious factor in her exclusion from the Norton Anthology. Considering how women were viewed at the time, it was likely due to her noble birth that she was able to pursue music at all. Even so, there were many social constraints that hindered the participation of women in music and academia. In Reconstructing the History of Music Education from a Feminist Perspective, Sondra Wieland Howe 1.  Montford, review of Twelve Sonatas, Op. 16, 153. 2.  Montford, 153.


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writes that the extant scholarly publications on the history of music education, written by white male authors, are chronological with an emphasis on white male educators in public school music.3 The Norton Anthology is no exception, as it ignores a prolific woman composer whose career offers insight into the political context surrounding music philosophies. Despite Leonarda’s remarkable accomplishments as a composer, there is little information about her. This lack of documentation is an example of one of the ways in which women are erased from history. While Leonarda’s work was undervalued at a time when women were actively excluded from certain musical opportunities and spaces,4 contemporary historians have continued to undervalue the perspectives and creative voices of women and other marginalized groups. According to Howe, a “canon is an authoritative list of books or a body of material that is considered to be essential for understanding a subject.”5 The Norton Anthology plays a major role in defining the canon. Leonarda’s exclusion from the anthology thus marks her work as inessential, and minimizes her contribution to the history of music. It is critical that this imbalance be redressed in our present study of music history, not only in order to take up the canon but for the insights her work can afford. Leonarda’s Sonata Duodecimo provides a shortcut to understanding the dichotomy between French rationalism and Italian emotionalism. Leonarda’s Sonata Duodecimo is laced with an expressiveness that emulates a soprano or alto singer. The violin’s glissandos operate seamlessly, sliding between pitches with ease, in a manner similar to the human voice. The tremolos and articulations explore parallels between the violin and the vibrato of an alto or tenor vocalist. Leonarda’s well-crafted melody explores dynamic and rhythmic variation. She depicts melancholy and softness through her idiomatic writing. This expressive and passionate style was characteristic of Italian emotionalism, an ideology rejected by the French. In fact, because the violin was viewed as a primary representation of Italian emotionalism, it was disapproved of by the French. Piero Weiss and Richard Taruskin note that as “an instrument associated with Italy and all things Italian, the violin was met with resistance in many French quarters. Its loudness was taken for stridency, its brilliance for vulgarity.”6 The French fa3.  Howe, “Reconstructing,” 97. 4.  Howe, 98. 5.  Howe, 98. 6.  Taruskin and Weiss, Music in the Western World, 174.


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voured the viola da gamba, which, for them, represented the superiority of French rationalism. As Weiss and Taruskin explain, “the rivalry between the violin and its Italianate repertoire versus the more traditional French courtly and chamber instruments (particularly the viola da gamba, called basse de viole in French) was carried on for over a century before the violin emerged as the undisputed victor.”7 The violin embodies emotionality due to its ability to emulate the human voice. Without frets, the pitches created are more organic, and less perfect. Consider also that the violin possesses a range similar to a female vocalist of Leonarda’s time period, with its lowest note being the G below middle C. If we compare this to the viola da gamba, an instrument that possesses the lower range more common among male singers, a gendered ideology begins to reveal itself. Italian philosophy and music were at this time both influenced by passion and the human ability to emote. This countered French rationalism, an ideology that privileged logic and empiricism. Isabella Leonarda’s sacred non-liturgical works frequently have intensely emotional Latin texts, some of which may have been written by Leonarda herself.8 Leonarda’s violin sonata represents many of the characteristics the French detested about emotionalism. The reasoning for this opposition has inherently sexist qualities which contribute to the exclusion of women from Western texts and canons, in which women have been cast as emotional in contrast to male rationality. The rejection of the violin is a microcosm for the rejection of femininity. It is treated as an inferior instrument due to its resemblance to the “inferior” sex. Failure to include Leonarda’s compositions such as Sonata Duodecimo in the Norton Anthology of Western Music shows the incomplete perspective the anthology takes on the French and Italian styles. Examining Leonarda’s work helps provide an understanding of the context and politics surrounding Italian emotionalism. Her compositions demonstrate what French musical philosophy opposed, and her gender demonstrates one of the reasons they opposed it. Indeed, even Italian emotionalism did not accept her on gendered grounds, as the Italian emotional style was developed and continued through men even though it possessed qualities that would have been considered feminine. Whether it be castrati men in opera houses, or the high range of the violin, there was a desire for what was considered to be feminine traits—but not for women themselves. While the Italians embraced and appropriated these traits through the male perspective, the French rejected them completely. Both ideologies ultimately still participated in the exclu7.  Taruskin and Weiss, 174. 8.  Ruppert, “Religious History and Composition.”


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sion of women’s voices. While underappreciated, Leonarda’s work and legacy are a way to understand this complex historical dichotomy. Leonarda’s exclusion from the Norton Anthology diminishes the importance of a female figure whose work in fact represents an essential component of music history.


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Bibliography Burkholder, James Peter, and Claude V. Palisca, eds. Norton Anthology of Western Music. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014. https://books.google.ca/books/ about/Norton_Anthology_of_Western_Music.html?id=yOOEnQEACAAJ&redir_esc=y. Howe, Sondra Wieland. “Reconstructing the History of Music Education from a Feminist Perspective.” Philosophy of Music Education Review 6, no. 2 (1998): 96–106. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40327121. Montford, Kimberlyn. Review of Twelve Sonatas, Op. 16, by Isabella Leonarda, edited by Stewart Carter. Music & Letters 85, no. 1 (2004): 153–154. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3526152. Ruppert, Krista. “Religious History and Composition.” Female Catholic Composers. Last modified September 5, 2016. http://scalar.usc.edu/ works/female-catholic-composers/religious-history-and-composition-2?path=isabella-leonarda. Taruskin, Richard, and Piero Weiss. Music in the Western World. Belmont: Schirmer Cengage Learning, 2008.


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Vicky Coo

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’m in my fourth year of Contemporary Studies and International Development. Over the last few years at King’s, I’ve become interested in what happens when we introduce silliness into academia. Vandana Shiva criticizes the devaluing of certain forms of knowledge and the sharp separation drawn between “experts,” who are considered the only ones with a legitimate claim to seek and judge knowledge, and “non-experts,” who often bear the responsibility for practice and action. Bringing playfulness to traditional forms seems to me to be one way, though obviously not enough on its own, to make academic writing more open and inviting. This is why I wanted to frame the following encounter—between Shiva’s ideas and J. D. Bernal’s weird and wonderful imaginings of the future—as a Socratic dialogue that falls apart.

- Vicky Coo


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Science and Violence

Vandana Shiva and J.D. Bernal in Dialogue Dramatis Personae

Dr. Vandana Shiva. Socrates was unable to be present for this dialogue, so his place will be taken by Dr. Vandana Shiva, our narrator. An Indian environmental and food-sovereignty activist, Shiva has written extensively on ecofeminism, biopolitics, globalization, and environmental issues. This dialogue will draw on her 1988 essay, “Reductionist Science as Epistemological Violence,” in which she argues that modern science is reductionist because it follows capitalist logic of profit-maximization. This logic encourages violence against nature, which, she writes, recoils on humankind. J. D. Bernal. Shiva’s main interlocutor, an Irish scientist and historian of science. In The World, the Flesh and the Devil: An Enquiry into the Future of the Three Enemies of the Rational Soul (1929), he imagines the radical changes that science has the potential to bring about. He envisions a future in which, among other developments, humans live in globular vessels in space and in which our bodies are reduced to highly efficient, long-living encased brains. Cephalus. The father of the host in Plato’s The Republic (fourth century BCE); an elderly man pleased that age has freed him from the turbulence of physical desires. Karl Popper. A twentieth-century philosopher of science, who argues for a critical attitude to tradition and for an open society in which everyone has access to knowledge.


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Hannah Arendt. A twentieth-century journalist and political theorist, known for her analyses of totalitarianism and of the human condition. Thomas Kuhn. The author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), who challenged the notion of linear scientific progress and introduced the idea of incommensurable paradigms. While Shiva approves of how his model shows that scientific facts are determined by the social world of scientists, she criticizes him for failing to extend his critique to economic and political systems.

I

went down yesterday to the Piraeus with Glaucon, son of Ariston. I wanted to say a prayer to the goddess and also to see what they would make of the festival, as this was the first time they were holding it.1 We had said our prayers and were on our way back to town when I noticed, on a street corner, Bernal standing upon a soapbox, mystifying a crowd of passersby with his fantastic ideas of the possible directions that scientific progress, as he called it, could take. He was concluding his speech as I approached: “So you see, ladies and gentlemen, the science of the future has the potential to radically alter not only our physical environment but also our physiological and psychological selves. It may be difficult, and even distasteful, to imagine some of these transformations right now, but not for long. We are on the point of being able to see the effects of our actions and their probable consequences in the future; we hold the future still timidly, but perceive it for the first time, as something we can shape and control.”2 In no mood to listen to an account of science that so blatantly and thoughtlessly encouraged a violent and reductionist approach to nature, I continued on. Bernal, though, noticed us in the distance making our way home, and sent his assistant running on ahead to tell us to wait for him. Soon afterwards Bernal came up, flushed with excitement, and persuaded us to join him for dinner at Polemarchus’s house. Polemarchus’s father, Cephalus, was there too: a very old man he seemed to me. He welcomed me and said: “You don’t come down to the Piraeus as often as you should, Shiva. I find myself that as age blunts one’s enjoyment of physical pleasures, one’s desire for rational conversation and one’s enjoyment of it increase correspondingly.”3 This clearly gave Bernal the pretext he had been waiting for to raise some 1.  Plato, The Republic, 327a. 2.  Bernal, World, Flesh, Devil, 26. 3.  Plato, The Republic, 328d.


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point, for he spoke up eagerly. “Would you say, then, Cephalus, that, at this point in your existence, having lived a long and happy natural life of somewhere between sixty and a hundred and twenty years, you would be willing to transcend the inconveniences of your body to continue a life of the mind?” “Well,” Cephalus replied, “I suppose so, for I certainly am glad to have escaped the frenzies of certain desires that once drove me in my youth—” “Aha!” cried Bernal. “The flesh, one of the three enemies of the rational soul! The other two, of course, are the world and the devil. Tell me, Cephalus, if this body-bound existence were only a larval stage of your life, and you could continue to live as a perfectly effective, mentally-directed mechanism, with increased mental development, and the capacity for extending indefinitely your possible sensations and actions, and a mode of connection with others that automatically made all communication full and perfect, without losing your individuality, and—”4 At this point I felt compelled to interrupt. “Bernal,” I said, “before you start describing your vision for how human bodies can be replaced by mechanical parts and how our minds can all be fused together, I must say that I wonder if you’re in danger of missing the point. The ability of most of the people of this world to attain a span or quality of life anywhere near what Cephalus has already enjoyed has been gravely endangered by the violence of modern science, whose reductionist character is inseparably and dialectically linked with capitalist logic.”5 “No, no, you misunderstand me,” he replied, sounding wounded. “Of course I’m not overlooking hunger or need or any of that. But those are things that will surely be resolved in the near future. We can already see that the problem of the production and distribution of necessities to satisfy all human beings is being resolved with uniform and intelligent method. This is being advanced with rationalized capitalism, yes, but also by Soviet state planning—so don’t accuse me of being purely capitalist!”6 “That’s an interesting proposition, Bernal. Let me make sure that I follow your argument. You begin your work with the question of how to reconcile the future of desire—what we wish to happen—and the future of fate—what inevitably will happen—do you not?” “Yes, Shiva.”7 “And, in your view, since it’s impossible to either observe or experiment with the future, the only way we can scientifically examine the future is by predic4.  Bernal, World, Flesh, Devil, 16, 19. 5.  Shiva, “Reductionist Science,” 88. 6.  Bernal, World, Flesh, Devil, 32. 7.  Bernal, 1.


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tion, right?” “Yes, Shiva.”8 “And, as part of the method for scientific prediction, it is always necessary to exclude, as far as possible, the illusive desires that lead us to imagine that the future will be everything that the present and the past have lacked?” “Excellently said, Shiva. In scientific prediction, these desires are the most delusive guides.”9 “And they have the most power to twist our appreciation of the facts in relation to the near future, where we are still sympathetically related to men and events? That is, where we still care deeply about what will happen?” “Exactly.”10 “But you don’t believe that your (very creditable) desire to see world hunger and need come to an end might have influenced your rather inadequately supported claim that, without doubt, these things will end?” While he spluttered for a reply, I added, as an afterthought: “Prejudiced also, perhaps, by the twin myths of continuous progress in material prosperity and rational superiority.”11 “I’m not saying that this is an end that will be realized immediately, within my ‘natural’ lifespan,” Bernal equivocated. “Stupidity and the perversity of separate interests may hold back the fulfilment of basic needs for all humankind for centuries, but, yes, it must come gradually and surely.”12 “I wish the state of the world gave me any reason to share your myopic confidence in that. But I’m glad you brought up the perversity of separate interests. What do you mean by that, exactly?” “I suppose I don’t have a specific definition or example in mind, Shiva. But I do know that, in history, there has often been a separation of classes or cultures, one of which comes to dominate the rest, which results in inequality and, well, all those other unnecessary social problems. It doesn’t last long, though: the ruling class will usually fall, or its advantages will soon spread to the others.”13 “A rather simplistic way of looking at the whole of history, if I may say so. But I may be able to help explain separate interests. Individual firms and fragmented sectors of the economy, whether privately or publicly owned, have their 8.  Bernal, 1. 9.  Bernal, 1. 10.  Bernal, 2. 11.  Shiva, “Reductionist Science,” 91. 12.  Bernal, World, Flesh, Devil, 32. 13.  Bernal, 33.


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own efficiency needs in mind; and every firm measures its efficiency by the extent to which it maximizes its gains, regardless of the fact that in the process it also maximizes the social and ecological costs of the production process.”14 “That sounds like an accurate description, Shiva. But I’m not sure that this is necessarily how the world needs to work. I rather think that, sooner or later, as scientific experts come to run the world, the idea of private interest will broaden to include some consideration of humanity.”15 “Setting aside for the moment your prediction about scientific experts, I quite agree with you. This separation of personal interest and profit from social and ecological interests is not the necessary state of affairs, but is the result of a reductionist worldview, bound up with the industrial revolution and the capitalist economy.”16 “Indeed, Shiva. How could anyone think otherwise?” (This was not Bernal speaking, but one of the many listeners who had by this point flocked around us.) “Excellent question, because many do,” I replied. “The rationality and efficiency of reductionist and non-reductionist knowledge systems have not been properly evaluated. If an individual firm or sector directly confronts the larger society, the people can decide for themselves the costs and benefits of their commercial appropriation of nature. The state’s support for reductionist science, through financial subsidies and ideological backing, renders this impossible. Instead of being the subject of science, with the power to understand and criticize it, and to determine where it should go, the citizen becomes the object of change. The government treats them as only one factor in a cost-benefit analysis, and the citizen loses their right to assess progress. Whatever sacrifices they must endure to make way for scientific ‘progress,’ resource exploitation, and so on, are of little consequence compared to the national interest.17 This, incidentally, ties into one of the key assumptions of reductionism: that ‘experts’ and ‘specialists’ are the only legitimate knowledge-seekers and knowledge-justifiers.18 Not only that, but even the ‘experts’ are so specialized and fragmented that they too are reduced to non-knowers in all fields of knowledge but the particular reductionist paradigm they have been trained in. This is one of the forms of violence that reductionist

14.  Shiva, “Reductionist Science,” 91. 15. Bernal, World, Flesh, Devil, 33. 16.  Shiva, “Reductionist Science,” 91. 17.  Shiva, 91. 18.  Shiva, 88.


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science perpetrates so that it can claim a monopoly on knowledge.”19 “Quite true!” Bernal exclaimed. “Without the power the state lends to it, wouldn’t such a system quickly fall?” “Certainly.20 But Bernal, weren’t you just speculating about a society that would splinter into the scientists, who would become the ruling powers, and the rest of humanity?” “Well, yes, but that would be a benevolent sort of rule. Most of the people would be happy and prosperous, given harmless occupations, able to enjoy their bodies, arts, religion, and so on, and would imagine that they were perfectly free, without the burden of worrying about the machine by which their desires are satisfied. They would have all they wanted—peace, plenty, and freedom—and it would just be so much easier for the scientists not to have to deal with the tiresome objections that people will always make in the face of change.21 It’s a way to ensure that science can achieve everything it’s capable of, for the good of humankind—there’s not the same selfish intent of the situation you were describing.” “Don’t you think, Bernal, that you’re assuming—” “Why, that sounds a little like the difference between having an oligarchy or a philosopher-king!” piped up Cephalus, whom everyone had assumed was asleep by this point. “Neither of them allow for proper criticism. They’re both totalitarian closed societies,” muttered Karl Popper from somewhere in the back. Hannah Arendt elbowed him. “We’re in Ancient Greece. It will be thousands of years before totalitarianism develops,” she hissed. They were quickly shushed by everyone around them, who had heard this argument too many times before. “As I was saying,” I continued patiently, “don’t you think that you’re ascribing a bit too much objectivity to ‘the good of humankind’? Isn’t what constitutes the good, in fact, a subjective judgement? All value judgements are subjective, whether we’re able to recognize it or not. You consider it important and worthy to stretch the limits of science as far as possible, but that goal is not inherently good. It is a value judgement.” 22 “All the same, Shiva,” someone said from the crowd, “Don’t you think that modern science, if we follow the proper method, leads us to objective, neutral, universal knowledge? It’s the political misuse and the unethical technological ap19.  Shiva, 86–87. 20.  Shiva, 91. 21.  Bernal, World, Flesh, Devil, 33–34. 22.  Shiva, “Reductionist Science,” 89.


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plication of science that leads to violence.” “A common argument, but a specious one nonetheless.24 Do you really believe that it is possible to separate science from technology and economics? For instance, Bernal, when you speak of the science of the future, aren’t you constantly referring to the ways that scientific discovery and technological change will enable one another?” “Yes, of course.” “And it seems to me that you grasp quite clearly that scientific development is bound up with our desires: that technological and scientific changes will lead to changes in our desires, which will in turn direct which further innovations we pursue. You must also see, then, that the artificial dichotomy between science and technology dissolves when science is viewed as a set of beliefs guiding practice, and technology as practice guided by scientific belief.25 For instance, reductionist beliefs guide the current practice that devotes eighty percent of scientific research to the war industry.”26 “Really?” Bernal asked, crestfallen. “I worked so hard on imagining what a technologically advanced and harmonious world would look like, with cool new building materials and enormous self-sustaining spaceships and super-efficient and long-living cyborg bodies. People would really rather be researching weapons of large-scale violence than space-globes and cylinder-bodies and hive-brains?” “So it would seem. But have you considered the possibility that your space-globes, and so on, can be violent even when your professed objective is human welfare?” “How so?” “We’ve already discussed how you suggest violence against the subject of knowledge, people, by excluding all but an elite few from the process of scientific research and technological advancement—if not as the only path to take, certainly as a legitimate one. It’s plain that your ideas would also do violence to the object of knowledge, nature, in your effort to transform it without a thought for the consequences, without recognizing that you’re destroying the innate integrity of nature and thereby robbing it of its regenerative capacity.”27 “Of course I propose transforming nature,” he cried. “That’s the point! We should not remain stuck in the world as it is—that’s a failure of imagination. 23

23.  Shiva, 87. 24.  Shiva, 90. 25.  Shiva, 90. 26.  Shiva, 86. 27.  Shiva, 87.


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The regenerative capacity is exactly what I’m trying to preserve. Life in our solar system will not be possible forever, but, by intelligent organization the life of the universe could probably be prolonged to many millions of millions of times what it would be without organization.28 It’s the same with my thoughts on physiological transformation: normal man is an evolutionary dead end, but mechanical man, apparently a break in organic evolution, actually follows the trajectory of further evolution.29 Besides, it seems that you propose the ‘innate integrity of nature’ as if we should immediately accept this undefined concept without question, as if it has some sort of universal validity. But haven’t you already argued that what might seem to be objective can in fact be a value judgement? Yes, I can see the persuasive appeal of the idea of the innate integrity of nature; nonetheless, it is not part of my worldview, and thus not an argument that I find at all compelling.” “And this is what happens when you start arguing from inside different paradigms,” sighed Thomas Kuhn from the sofa, shaking his head. (He had drunk a good deal of wine to avoid confronting the material and political vacuity of his own model of science.)30 “Moreover, my vision of the science of the future is what’s going to save the world from the ecological crisis you’re so concerned about,” Bernal went on, emboldened and blissfully unaware that nothing could be more ironic than the claim of the destroyer to be the saviour.31 “And how, may I ask, is that?” “The very first, most basic developments I propose will lead to a world incomparably more efficient and richer than the present, capable of supporting a much larger population, secure from want!32 We’ll move on from this wasteful age of metals and mines and massive construction to far more refined materials and systems, designed with fused molecules to be light and elastic and strong.33 By the time you get to my second chapter, humans have become little cylinders. Get rid of an unnecessary body part here—well, okay, most of them are unnecessary when you think about it—perfect a sense there, reattach some nerves, tinker with the brain a bit, make a nice durable case to protect it, and presto: the new and improved human cylinder. I imagine little cylinders don’t require as much food as

28.  Bernal, World, Flesh, Devil, 12. 29.  Bernal, 19. 30.  Shiva, “Reductionist Science,” 90. 31.  Shiva, 92. 32.  Bernal, World, Flesh, Devil, 6. 33.  Bernal, 5.


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our current wasteful bodies with their parasitical blackmailing limbs! We will have become so much more efficient that we will need far fewer resources than ever before. Forget genocide or ecocide—this is the real solution to the tragedy of the commons.” “How do you feel about eucalyptus?” “I beg your pardon? This feels irrelevant.” “Not at all. Regardless of local conditions and needs, your prescription for averting the impending environmental catastrophe is singular: we all become little cylinder-machines. You would destroy the wealth and diversity of humankind to apply your reductionist solution. Have you noticed how much your visions of the future have in common with the strategy that international aid organizations developed to solve deforestation in India: planting eucalyptus, and only eucalyptus, even though it consumed vast quantities of water and increased desertification?”35 “Well, no. I have not given much thought to eucalyptus. But I’d like to point out that I don’t oppose diversity: I recognize that society in the space-globes, for instance, would develop very differently depending on their inhabitants and construction. My vision is one you should support! For those whose primary interest is in primitive nature, there will always remain the earth which, free from the economic necessity of yielding vast agricultural products to support all of humankind, could be allowed to revert to a much more natural state.”36 “You’re assuming that my definition of nature is limited to this planet— that I would have no objection to the colonization of the sidereal universe, or to your prediction that man will not ultimately be content to be parasitic on the stars but will invade and organize them for his own purposes.37 Very well, I will concede that your vision of the future may not resort to reductionist science in the typical way of the private interests that are currently wreaking damage on our planet. You are too concerned with the long-term future and too little motivated by considerations of personal profit for that. The fact remains, though, that the developments that you imagine carelessly ignore the consequences of recklessly pillaging nature, and thus are still violent.” “As I’ve said, your argument assumes that I ought to value nature for its own sake—that its innate integrity is a property I should see, when you’ve already established that there are really no neutral facts about nature, independent of the 34

34.  Bernal, 15. 35.  Shiva, “Reductionist Science,” 94. 36.  Bernal, World, Flesh, Devil, 11. 37.  Bernal, 12.


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values shaped by human cognitive and economic activity38—whereas I’m interested in transcending it—” Just as our conversation was in danger of becoming circular, a hurricane raged through Polemarchus’s home and swept Bernal away, effectively ending the dialogue and falsifying his reductionist claims.39 It was an eloquent testimony to the violence that reductionist science perpetrates on nature, and to the inevitability that violence against nature recoils on humankind, the supposed beneficiary of all science.40

Editor’s note: We would like to make it clear that we deeply regret the tragic death of J. D. Bernal, extend our sincere sympathies to his family, and do not condone Dr. Shiva’s callous tone. We believe that, while Dr. Shiva was able to undermine Bernal’s illusory concept of progress and show how his theories encourage violence against the subject, object, and beneficiaries of science, Bernal defended himself well from the accusation of reductionism. His consideration of the desires and feelings that motivate human beings—as well as the far-reaching questions he raises regarding what the end of life or purpose of the human race might be—disprove this charge. We also contend that he effectively demonstrated that, though Dr. Shiva’s values may seem admirable and right, they inform her perspective in the same way that the ideal of profit maximization leads to a reductionist and capitalist outlook, and that she does not adequately defend her idea of the innate integrity of nature. We would suggest, however, that Bernal’s unfortunate, climate change-induced demise might indicate that a closer attention to the realities of the world around him could have led him to reconsider his assumption that a distant, let alone near, future for humankind is at all likely.

38.  Shiva, “Reductionist Science,” 89. 39.  Shiva, 90. 40.  Shiva, 87.


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Bibliography Bernal, J. D. The World, the Flesh and the Devil: An Enquiry into the Future of the Three Enemies of the Rational Soul. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1929. http://www.quarkweb.com/foyle/WorldFleshDevil.pdf. Plato. The Republic. Translated by Desmond Lee. London: Penguin Books, 2007. Shiva, Vandana. “Reductionist science as epistemological violence.” In Science, Hegemony and Violence: A Requiem for Modernity, edited by Ashis Nandy, 86–97. Delhi: United Nations University, 1988. https://archive.org/ details/ScienceHegemonyAndViolenceARequiemForModernity.


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I

am a fourth-year Honours student in Gender and Women’s Studies and English at the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University. My research interests include applications of critical and feminist theory, representations of gender in literature and the media, reproductive justice, reproductive healthcare, and intersectional feminism. This paper explores the life and works of Toyen, a gender non-conforming Czech artist who worked from 1934 onwards, primarily producing surrealist works. Analyzing four of their paintings, this essay considers the ways in which Toyen’s surrealism both contributed to the artistic values of the modernist community—which was defined by masculine dominance and female objectification—and simultaneously undermined and explored the limits of the gender binary. I wanted to challenge the common practice among feminist art historians to claim Toyen as a woman artist, and who often overlook the historically recorded ways Toyen identified as non-binary. Furthermore, Toyen is a fascinating historical figure whose art remains overwhelmingly popular in the Czech Republic, but has often been left out of English-speaking academic considerations of the European modernist art movement.

- Libby Schofield


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Queering Surrealism

Dreams, Desire, and Gender Identity in the Works of Toyen

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oyen (born Marie Čermínová) was a Czech surrealist from 1934 onward, a founding member of the Prague surrealist group, and one of its few members who were not cisgender men. Toyen’s claims to modernism are obvious. As a founder of the Prague surrealist group, they participated in the surrealist discourses of the subconscious, sexuality, and desire that typified surrealist modernism. However, Toyen also subverted hierarchal and normative gender roles in both life and art. Not only did Toyen proclaim their attraction to women, but often presented themselves in non-binary ways, adopting a genderless name and dressing in both masculine and feminine clothing.1 Pursuing an expression of the modern world in ways that transcend heteronormative gender binaries, Toyen’s artwork challenges artistic tradition in its exploration of queer desire, positioning them as an avant-garde modernist. Toyen’s lengthy career progressed through several artistic movements over the decades. They began making explicitly erotic sketches and drawings, and later worked as an illustrator of erotic novels. In 1923, when they were in 1.  Huebner, “In Pursuit of Toyen,” 22. How Toyen self-identified in regard to their gender is unknown, but Karla Huebner notes that Toyen at least sometimes used masculine words to describe themselves in Czech, which is a gendered language. While it is unknown if Toyen would have identified as a transgender man in the twenty-first century, I intend to respect Toyen’s recorded desire to be acknowledged in non-binary ways. Many scholars refer to Toyen as a woman artist because of the historical systemic boundaries that Toyen faced as a result of being perceived as a woman by their peers. However, I will refer to Toyen using the gender-neutral pronouns “they/them/their” to acknowledge the fluidity and ambiguity of their gender.


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their early twenties, Toyen joined the Devětsil, a group of Czech interdisciplinary avant-garde artists consisting of painters, poets, architects, and photographers, including their artistic partner and future fellow surrealist Jindřich Štyrský.2 The theoretical drive of the Devětsil fluctuated, typically favouring communism, and phased through such ideologies and styles as primitivism, constructivism, and poetism.3 Two years later, in 1925, Toyen and Štyrský founded their own two-person avant-garde movement, artificialism, which “relied on non-figurative or semi-abstract forms and colors as a means of concretizing impressions and feelings.”4 For the rest of the 1920s, having returned to Prague after living in Paris for three years, Toyen and Štyrský purposefully kept surrealism at a distance, although their artificialism manifesto details some similar objectives and goals. The movements were similar primarily in their reliance on memory, dreams, and emotion, but artificialism aimed to separate the artist from the final product, unlike surrealism’s “psychic automatism in its pure state.”5 Toyen and Štyrský described artificialism as the non-objective concretization of impressions, feelings, remembrances, and fantasies connected with some seen, undergone, or just dreamtabout reality, which in the course of time lost its shape, its position in time and space and after which remained merely an unpronounceable essence, a vague trembling of our senses, a vibration of feelings.6 Arguably the jump from this description of artificialism to surrealism is not an incredibly large one. As they had become less interested in the exterior world and were drawn more towards the abstract nature of interior life, Toyen and Štyrský founded the Czech surrealist movement in 1934. Compared to Toyen’s early work, which consisted largely of drawings, often employing clear lines and lack of colour while depicting scenes of explicit sex and nudity, Toyen’s embrace of surrealism transformed their style into the profoundly psychological, unsettling, dream-state quality of surrealism. However, Toyen retained their interest in expressing queer desire and queer bodies through surrealist discourse and imagery, producing work that was not only accepted as modernist by their contemporaries, but also as significant to modernism. An analysis of the following four paintings situates Toyen within surrealist and queer discourses, employing traditional interpretations of surrealism and erotic desire, but also reads Toyen’s modernism from a uniquely gendered perspective. 2.  Chadwick, “Revolutionary Art in Prague and Paris,” 278–279. 3.  Huebner, “Eroticism, Identity, Cultural Context,” 69. 4.  Chadwick, “Revolutionary Art in Prague and Paris,” 280. 5.  Breton, First Manifesto of Surrealism, 19. 6.  Vlček, “Social Crisis and Utopia,” 33.


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Toyen’s artistic focus on interactions with and between genitalia—male, female, and intersex—plays on sexual fear, curiosity, and intrigue with forms of sexuality and desire that are “other.” In Horror (Figure 1), a painting from 1937— the same year Toyen participated in the Exhibition of the Czech Avant-Garde in Prague7—five pale hands grasp what appears to be a wall, as if the figures the hands belong to are attempting to climb over it. On the viewer’s side of the wall is a mesmerizing, almost pulsating object reminiscent of a menstruating, unshaven vulva growing like a tree from a trunk. The hiddenness of the hands’ owners suggests an elicit, secretive, and potentially shameful desire to gaze upon or engage with the vaginal tree object. At the same time, the figures’ implied potential mobility towards the object, the temptation to climb over the wall, frames the object as one of irresistible desire. The painting’s title adds to the object’s position as a potentially monstrous “other,” suggesting the unknown consequences that may occur if it is engaged with; yet the potentiality of interaction, particularly of sexual interaction, is simultaneously drawing the figures closer to it. Positioning female sexuality as visible yet hidden and desired may comment on taboos of female (homo)sexuality, and the consequences of certain kinds of desire. Horror is an excellent example of the ways Toyen’s imagery often (but not always) centres on genitalia and the simultaneous desire and fear associated with them. This theme is pervasive in surrealism’s obsession with subconscious desire and Freudian theories of the phallus and castration. Rudolf Kuenzli describes the archetypal male surrealist that is present in Freudianism, who fears castration when faced with the female figure, and “to overcome his fears, he fetishizes the female figure [in his art], he deforms, disfigures, manipulates her; he literally manhandles her in order to re-establish his own ego.”8 It is in this framework that surrealists create their famous imagery of the beheaded, mutilated, and/ or dismembered woman, as seen in art by Štyrský and Magritte. Several feminist art historians are concerned about how to approach the work of female surrealists, seeking to address the contradiction of women artists’ participation in an artistic movement with ideologies that famously manifest themselves in fetishization and exploitation of women’s bodies in art. The psychological violence prevalent in surrealism leaves the role of the female surrealist in uncomfortably murky light. As Mary Ann Caws notes, “we feminist viewers of surrealism have wanted to give them their head, their eyes, and their hands, not just on their hips to provoke,

7.  Huebner, “Eroticism, Identity, Cultural Context,” 355. 8.  Kuenzli, “Surrealism and Misogyny,” 24.


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but free to use as they pleased and did.”9 When Toyen isolates the image of a vulva in Horror, are they taking on the role of the male surrealist, and fetishizing the female body for psychological power or equality with their male counterparts (or perhaps representing the presence of their male gender identity)? Keeping in mind that Toyen employed phallic imagery as frequently as vaginal imagery, Huebner instead interprets Toyen’s total embrace of surrealist theories, including the dismemberment of female bodies, as signalling their “determination to explore multiple forms of sexuality . . . to unearth a deep understanding of eroticism and desire.”10 One of Toyen’s more recognizable and psychological works, Spící (Figure 2), commonly known by its English titles Asleep or Sleeping, depicts a levitating female figure in an empty and daunting landscape, facing away from the viewer and holding a butterfly net. Most strikingly, the back of the figure’s dress opens to reveal that she has no body. The frame is, paradoxically, vastly filled with emptiness; the landscape, butterfly net, and the dress are all absent of the content that they traditionally are expected to contain. In “The Surrealist Object as Fetish,” Johanna Malt discusses the ways in which surrealists engage with modernity, drawing from technology and desire to create their own mechanism which references sexual fantasies: Just as the “technology” of the personal fantasy, though strangely fascinating, appears impenetrable and obscure from a position other than the desiring one which created it, so the commodity becomes alienated once it ceases to be an object of desire. What remains is an empty husk, but it retains the ability to speak to us about the relationship we as subjects once had with it.11 Malt is referencing modernists’ use of imagery that mimics or alludes to technology, especially the manufacturing of mass-produced items and the mechanical movement of factory equipment. In Spící the image of the hollow, cone-shaped girl, levitating but also possibly rotating, is both recognizable and alien. She is (literally) void of substantiality or meaning in the ways viewers might have expected, alienating us from the familiar ways female bodies are desired. Without a torso, breasts, thighs, or face, the girl becomes “other,” or a literal “empty husk.” I am less interested in the ways we as viewers engage with the girl, and more interested in “the desiring one which created it.” If, through Malt’s lens, Toy9.  Caws, The Surrealist Look, 55. 10.  Huebner, “Eroticism, Identity, Cultural Context,” 153. 11.   Malt, “The Surrealist Object as Fetish,” 131.


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en is using the surrealist tradition of alluding to mechanical movement and manufacturing to project their sexual (or gender?) fantasies onto the figure of the hollow girl, Toyen is again engaging in modernism to subvert gender hierarchies and norms. In the meaningless, mechanical production and literal emptiness of the female body, we can interpret Spící as a mechanism of expressing a non-binary (or at least non-female) gender identity. The emptiness of the girl, surrounded by an empty world and an empty marker of feminine girlhood (the butterfly net), could suggest the ways in which Toyen was not comfortable in their presumed female identity, finding it empty and without substantiality or meaning. The girl’s explicit absentness implies a disconnect or unrelatability between artist and object—in this case, the female body. This is a very personal reading of the image, especially for an artist who kept their life quite private. However, the psychological nature of surrealism leaves modernists like Toyen vulnerable to such interpretation as they seek expression within the modern world. In representing the otherness and meaninglessness of the female body through the visual language of mechanical movement, Toyen again subverts hegemonic expectations of the female body and their own relation to femininity within modernity. The image of the half-absent girl appears again in Toyen’s 1943 painting Relâche (Figure 3), hanging upside down so her dress falls over her head and exposes her torso and her undergarments, her feet fading into the wall behind her. A sack (or hood) and a riding crop lie beneath her ominously. Like Horror and Spící, this painting offers a solemn, gritty background filled with grey and rusty textures; the atmosphere is reminiscent of a nightmare, and veins of acidic colour run down the wall behind the girl like trickling blood. The painting is eerily erotic, as evidenced in the girl’s physical vulnerability, exposure of her undergarments, and the implication of sexualized violence. The one-way gaze of the viewer onto the girl’s body suggests voyeurism, and the presence of a sack and riding crop suggests BDSM sexual acts, or more sinisterly, potential kidnapping. The suggestion of violence and sadist sexual desire is coherent with surrealist ideologies and practices. The girl’s lack of control and autonomy over her body, her defacement, and the imminence of future violence would clearly align with the way the surrealist male “literally manhandles [the female figure] in order to re-establish his own ego.”12 Toyen’s general perception as female complicates this reading, as it did with Horror. In this image, it is possible that Toyen adopts the role of the male surrealist, asserting their masculinity (whether for personal or professional reasons would be a matter of speculation) over the vulnerable female 12.  Kuenzli, “Surrealism and Misogyny,” 24.


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body. An alternate reading sees Toyen flipping surrealist narratives on their head. Malt writes that “the best a work of art can hope to do is to lay bare the social forces which shape it, and, in doing so, help us conceive of what an absence of such forces would look like.”13 Relâche may have achieved just this. The imagery in the painting can be seen in two ways: as surrealist eroticism, and as sexualized violence. The girl’s defacement, disappearing limbs, and the references to violent sexual tendencies (the crop as signifier for BDSM) all follow the surrealist discourse in which violence is done to the female body in order for the male ego to overcome its fear of Freudian castration. The image fills the viewer with unease, as surrealist imagery intends to do, but unlike other surrealist works, it is easy for the viewer to identify the source of that discomfort: misogyny. Toyen evokes a commentary on surrealism’s exploitation and abuse of the female body, while working within the framework that is both available, discernable, and celebrated in the male-dominated modernist art world. Over the course of their decades-long career, Toyen’s surrealist work becomes more abstracted and visually complex. Their later 1996 work, Le Paravent (Figure 4), continues to deal complexly with gender and sexuality, this time by featuring a three-fold screen with the shadow of a featureless figure cast onto each panel. The left figure appears male, the centre figure female, and the right figure largely androgynous. The female figure provocatively pulls on green gloves and wears a green, leopard-print dress with three feline faces emerging from it— the largest cat has human eyes and an open (potentially screaming or moaning), red-lipped human mouth that sits approximately where the figure’s sexual organs would be. Huebner and other scholars interpret Toyen’s use of phantoms and shadows in the latter half of their career as a signal for the insubstantiality of ever-present desire.14 I am most interested in the placement of the image’s replications and reflections. The left and centre shadows, one black and one white, engage in recognizably gendered, heterosexual behaviour: the woman’s seductive pose, their proximity to each other, and the presence of the mating moths between their heads suggest a sexual flirtation. In contrast, the third figure, grey and androgynous, is not even entirely present within the frame. If we read all three figures as reflections of one image, projected onto each panel of the screen, we see each figure performing different embodiments of gender. The third figure is a combination of the male and female shadows, a peripheral possibility of androgyny that is closely associated with Toyen’s personal image, which heavily featured both masculine 13.  Malt, “The Surrealist Object as Fetish,” 138. 14.  Huebner, “Eroticism, Identity, Cultural Context,” 341.


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and feminine clothing (Figure 5). The mating moths are also horizontal reflections of each other. The possibility that the same moth might play either or both roles in their sexual act also alludes to queer desires and identities. As in the three other paintings discussed, in Le Paravent Toyen twists gender and sexuality, going beyond simple adherance to surrealism’s dedication to Freudianism. Especially when taking Toyen’s own gender identity into account, their images function within surrealist discourse, but Toyen also manipulates their images to include complications of sexuality and gender beyond heterosexuality and the gender binary. What are the problems in analyzing (or not analyzing) Toyen’s life and work as a modernist through a feminist, queer, or trans lens? Nearly every scholarly source I have found firmly identifies Toyen as a woman, albeit a lesbian or queer one. In Czech Feminisms: Perspectives on Gender in Eastern Europe, Karla Huebner briefly considers the possibility that Toyen might have identified as a man by today’s standards of gender identity. While she allows for Toyen’s gender ambiguity, she writes that “it is best not to try to pigeonhole her,”15 and continues to posit them as a cisgender woman with queer tendencies. Although I agree that it is important to consider that Toyen faced the same systemic obstacles as a female artist as a result of their perceived gender, I am critical of exclusively cisnormative analyses of their life and, more pertinently in this essay, their work. The complex visual commentaries offered in Horror, Spící, Relâche, and Le Paravent provide a unique reading of non-normative gender expressions and desires. Insofar as feminist art history narratives pursue the ideal (cisgender) woman surrealist, analyses that exclude the possibility of a non-binary artist work both within and to uphold hierarchal and sexual norms. An exclusively cisnormative lens fails to consider Toyen’s visual resistance against these norms: for example, the implications of the hollow girl in Spící, or of the genderless grey shadow in Le Paravent, as previously discussed. Toyen’s contributions to modernism and surrealism are undeniable. As one of the only surrealists who was not a cisgender male, and certainly one of the most unique ones, Toyen’s use of psychological imagery and expression of subconscious desire engages their viewers in the familiar discourse of surrealism, while complicating normative expressions of gender and sexuality. Their avant-garde approach to art, challenging hegemonic methods of desire and identity, enables complicated readings of their work. Toyen’s use of surrealist discourse, participation in avant-garde artistic movements, and engagement with non-normative sexual desire posit them as modernist. Furthermore, in producing work that de-centres 15.  Huebner, “The Czech 1930s Through Toyen,” 74.


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normative gender and sexual expression within surrealism, Toyen’s complex imagery transcends the heteronormative gender binaries of the modernist artistic tradition, situating their work as distinctly avant-garde, not only in style but in its subversion of gender hierarchies and norms.


CANON Appendix

Figure 1. Toyen, Horror, 1937, oil on canvas, unknown dimensions, private collection. https://www.wikiart.org/en/toyen/horror-1937.

Figure 2. Toyen, Spící, 1937/8, oil on canvas, unknown dimensions, private collection, Czech Republic. https://www.wikiart.org/en/toyen/asleep-1937.

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Figure 3. Toyen, Relâche, 1943, oil on canvas, 109 × 52.5 cm, private collection, unknown location. https://www.wikiart.org/en/toyen/ relache-1943.

Figure 4. Toyen, Le Paravent, 1966, oil on canvas, unknown dimensions, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris. http://parismuseescollections.paris.fr/fr/ musee-d-art-moderne/oeuvres/le-paravent#infos-principales.

Figure 5. (left to right) Andre Breton, Toyen, and Benjamin Péret, 1956, photograph. http://kultura.zpravy.idnes.cz/vystava-malirky-toyen-slavila-uspech-d8n-/vytvarne-umeni.aspx?c=A000828105911vytvarneum_brt.


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Bibliography Breton, Andre. First Manifesto of Surrealism. Translated by A.S. Kline. Self-published by the translator, 2010. Caws, Mary Ann, Rudolf Kuenzli, and Gwen Raaberg, eds. Surrealism and Women. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991. Caws, Mary Ann. The Surrealist Look: An Erotics of Encounter. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999. Chadwick, Whitney. “Toyen: Toward a Revolutionary Art in Prague and Paris.” Symposium: A Quarterly Journal in Modern Literatures 42, no. 4 (1988): 277–296. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00397709. 1989.10733659. Huebner, Karla. “Eroticism, Identity, and Cultural Context: Toyen and the Prague Avant-Garde.” PhD diss., University of Pittsburgh, 2008. http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/10323/1/HuebnerKarla2008.pdf. ———. “In Pursuit of Toyen: Feminist Biography in an Art-Historical Context.” Journal of Women’s History 25, no. 1 (2013): 14–36. https://muse.jhu. edu/article/501600. ———. “The Czech 1930s Through Toyen.” In Czech Feminisms: Perspectives on Gender in East Central Europe, edited by Iveta Jusová and Jiina Šiklová, 60–76. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016. Malt, Johanna. Obscure Objects of Desire: Surrealism, Fetishism, and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Vlček, Tomẚš. “Art between Social Crisis and Utopia: The Czech Contribution to the Development of the Avant-Garde Movement in East-Central Europe, 1910-1930.” Art Journal 49, no. 1 (1990): 28–35. http://www. jstor.org/stable/777177?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.


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M

y name is Oyinda and I am Nigerian. I am also Canadian. For the longest time, I thought that those two nationalities could not coexist. I’ve always shied away from calling myself an immigrant. For the longest time, I felt as though that label meant that I did not belong, that I was an outsider. Writing this story allowed me to realize that not only could these two nationalities coexist, they thrived together. The experience of writing this piece was exciting knowing that I had a story to tell and that my voice was welcomed.

- Oyindasola Lagunju


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Making the Motherland Proud

I

remember the first day of second grade as if it were yesterday. My mother kissed me on my forehead after she told me she had packed an extra sandwich in case I got hungry during recess. I nodded in response. I remember how nervous I had been. Whenever I got nervous, I often found myself unable to speak. I was in a new country, a new school, a new grade. I walked outside and I felt the crisp air graze against my face and shivered as a chill went down my spine. The weather in Canada had been the biggest thing to adjust to since we had moved here. It wasn’t the hot, dry weather I was used to. Here, the weather made the hair stand up on my arms, and my skin turn white. It was all very strange. I spread my arms as my mother slid on my heavy, pink winter jacket. My mother and I crossed the street, hand in hand. I could see the school get bigger and bigger with every step. I remember feeling small. We eventually arrived at my classroom after what seemed like an eternity. My mother took my hand out of hers and placed it into my teacher’s hand. Mrs. Ford. My second-grade teacher. I don’t know why I still remember her name. She wasn’t one of those teachers that took a special interest in me, nor was she mean. I think it was because she was my first introduction to what being “Canadian” was like. The way she apologized every time she made a mistake during her lessons and the way she raved about the poutine she had from the stand on Main Street. Those were just some of the things that were caught by my observant young eye. I spent hours in front of the mirror mimicking her every move. Mrs. Ford asked if I was excited to be in her class and I, still unable to speak, nodded in response. She turned to my mother and told her not to worry. My mother got down on one knee and kissed my forehead once again. “Make me proud,” she said. Her words were quiet enough for no one else to hear but loud enough for them to echo in my ears years later. I heard those words before every test, before every interview and now as I stared at my computer


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screen and contemplated which university to apply to. “Your cousin graduated from Ryerson and now she’s a dentist,” my mother said from the kitchen. She was shoving tomatoes into a blender although it had reached its full capacity. I rolled my eyes from behind the computer screen. “I heard the journalism program there is pretty good,” I stated. “Journalism?” I could hear the laughter in her voice. “Why would you care about their journalism program?” I shrugged. “I don’t know.” “You don’t need to go to school for journalism. Anyone can go in front of a camera and talk; not everyone can heal people with their hands,” she said. “Besides, your father and I can’t retire on the salary of a journalist.” “Okay, Mom.” There was no use arguing with my mother. Following your dreams was a luxury given only to those that were “Canadian.” I, on the other hand, had an obligation. An obligation to make the sacrifice that would make my mother’s move into the unknown count for something. I had to be something. I sighed, and clicked on Biochemistry. My mother walked up behind me and stroked my hair. “Good,” she said as she kissed my forehead. “I am so proud of you.”


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Acknowledgements

S

o many people were responsible for the creation of this journal. In particular, we want to thank the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group and the King’s Students’ Union for their financial support; our professors for their solidarity, scholarship, and guidance; and our friends and peers for their continual support and conversations which sustained our passion for this project, and the homemade meals which sustained our bodies as deadlines neared. This journal would not be possible without all of you.


A SNARC JOURNAL

CANON Vol. 3  

CANON is an undergraduate journal, published by students at the University of King's College, confronting the under- and mis-representation...

CANON Vol. 3  

CANON is an undergraduate journal, published by students at the University of King's College, confronting the under- and mis-representation...

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