The schedule for the conference in honour of George Whalley at Queen’s University, 24-26 July 2015, is now available here. The guest speakers include Michael Ondaatje, Elizabeth Hay, George Elliott Clarke, Werner Nell, and John Baxter. An impressive group of presenters has been assembled, and it includes Dean Irvine, Robert Lecker, Janet Friskney, J.A. Weingarten, and Christopher Doody, among others.
The registration form for the conference is available here.
As a tribute to George Whalley’s passion for music, Duo Turgeon, the elite piano duo, will perform a concert in the Isabel Bader Centre of Performing Arts on the evening of July 25th at 7:30 pm. Drs. Anne Louise-Turgeon and Edward Turgeon, two members of Algoma U’s Music faculty, have established themselves as one of North America’s prominent piano duos. This event is open to everyone and does not require registration for the conference. Tickets are available to the general public for $25.00. Purchase tickets here.
I would like to extend my thanks to EMiC for funding my RAship and facilitating our research on Gabrielle Roy, a French Canadian modernist writer who is too often overlooked in the English-speaking academic world. What began as an analysis of the complex editorial history of Gabrielle Roy’s “Où Iras-Tu Sam Lee Wong?” developed into a broader and richer study of the Asian-Canadian literary canon. On May 30th, 2015, Nathalie Cooke and I will attend the Association of Canadian and Quebec Literature conference (ACQL) to present our findings in a presentation entitled, “What’s on the Menu? Chinese Restaurants in Canadian Literature.” On April 30th, 2015, Nathalie Cook conducted a workshop entitled, “One Lonely Chinese Restaurateur of the Canadian Prairies and a Story with Three Endings,” at the University of Holguin, Cuba. The restaurant setting and the figure of the Chinese restaurateur prove especially useful motifs in delineating the evolution of Asian-Canadian literature. For, as Sam Lee Wong remarks about his job as a restaurant keeper, Chinese immigrants “almost all […] ended up in the same occupation” (53).
Our findings reveal a surge in Asian-Canadian writing after 1981 and a canon that is predominantly English with a few notable exceptions: Ook Chung, Ying Chen, and Kim Thúy (all appearing after 1981). Published six years prior to the watershed year of 1981 in Asian-Canadian literature, and likely written over a decade before, “Où Iras-Tu Sam Lee Wong?” is anomalous not only in terms of its editorial particularities, but also in its place in literary history. Written in French by a non-Asian writer, depicting Chinese settlement in the Anglo-Canadian landscape of Saskatchewan’s prairies, “Où Iras-Tu Sam Lee Wong?” is of particular interest as a story depicting cross-cultural encounter. As François Ricard also notes, the inspiration for the stories appearing in Un jardin au bout du monde (1975) came from Roy’s own experiences of such encounters. In a 1943 article published in Le Bulletin des Agriculteurs, Roy describes a Chinese restaurateur she encountered in Saskatchewan who “paraît toujour s’ennuyer et ne jamais se décorager, celui que partout on nomme Charlie: le restaurateur chinois.” The particularities of Roy’s story may be unique, but the figure of the Chinese restaurateur is an important one in Canadian history—and literature—that requires further study.
It is with EMiC’s support that we have been able to lay the groundwork for future projects on Asian-Canadian literature. I am grateful to the EMiC community and look forward to the future stages of this project.
Plans are coming along for the conference in honour of George Whalley to be held at Queen’s University, 24-26 July 2015. The schedules for the three days will be available soon. Much of the event will take place in the George Whalley Room in Watson Hall. The Principal of Queen’s U will host a reception on Friday, late in the afternoon. Saturday afternoon, part of the event will take place at the HMCS Cataraqui, in honour of George’s wartime service. On Saturday evening, Duo Turgeon, one of the world’s elite piano duos, will perform in the Isabel Bader Centre. The concert will include pieces by George’s favourite composers. It will be a splendid tribute. Sunday will be a shorter day, with events wrapping up in the early afternoon.
The special guests include Michael Ondaatje, Elizabeth Hay, George Elliot Clarke, John Baxter, and Werner Nell. Also, John Reeves, the CBC producer who worked with Whalley on the adaptation of Primo Levi’s “If This Is A Man” and other works for radio, will be interviewed by Michael Ondaatje.
An exhibition of sculptures by Peter Whalley, George’s brother, will be in the Media Lab in the Isabel Bader Centre. The exhibit will be open 10 to 4 on the 24th and noon to 4 on the 25th and 26th. It will also be open during the Duo Turgeon performance. Queen’s University Archives will have an exhibit of materials from the George Whalley Fonds.
A registration page is now available here.