Our research project aims to study and promote dialogue between different Canadian communities (francophone, anglophone and Indigenous) in the world of comics and BD.
The three coordinators:
Sylvain Lemay, Chris Reyns-Chikuma, Sylvain Rheault
The dialogue between diverse Canadian communities has not often been easy. In fact, until recently, it has often been aggressive whenever possible. Since the Second World War, this dialogue has improved thanks to favorable economic condictions (globalization, amongst others) and by explicitly multicultural federal and municipal politics in Canada. Contact among the three primary communities, first between the two linguistic groups then more recently still, with a third community, First Nations, accrued even if tensions persisted. This can be seen in cultural productions that increasingly feature the Other in diverse forms (creators, characters, events, translations,…). Thus, books (essays, novels,…), plays, films and television programs have contributed to establishing, reinforcing and discussing this dialogue.
In 1945, Hugh MacLennan, a Montréal-Canadian anglophone, published his second novel titled Two Solitudes. This book garnered enormous success and the expression « 2 solitudes » quickly took root in Canadian culture, both in French and in English, to convey the lack of communication between the two francophone and anglophone linguistic communities (these were the only officially recognized communities at the time). This lack was both real in daily life and ordinary in cultural life. Thus, literature (novels, poetry, theater,…) in French was only rarely read or translated by anglophones or influenced by Canadian anglophone literature, and vice-versa.
The history of Canadian comics and Québécois comics (BD) are no exception. The two streams of national production developed in parallel, without really forming links. Thus, if many essays are about the history of comics in Canada, none really take into account these two realities but for few rare exceptions (Samson, Viau & Bell). But for Québécois superhero comics (influenced by American superheros) and avant-garde BD (more cosmopolitan: e.g., Doucet), the Canadian Francophone tradition has until recently followed the Franco-Belgian tradition and the Canadian Anglophone tradition mostly followed the Anglo-Saxon tradition, especially American. Many academic and non-academic works were published on this lack of communication in diverse fields, nothing has yet been published on this absence in the world of Comics/BD in a significant way. We seek to remediate this void.
Our project is divided into three parts. The first part is an introduction and therefore establishes these facts in a systematic manner by using quantitative and qualitative methods covering the end of the 19th century to 1990. Our second part, the heart of our research, focuses on the period from 1990 to 2020. The third includes digital BD, as well as transfers from other worlds, such as mangas.
Our research is based on certain concepts developed in Howard Becker’s studies and to a lesser extent, in Pierre Bourdieu’s. It is founded on the concept of « Comics worlds, » which are directly inspired by the « Art Worlds » of the sociologist, Howard Becker. Becker sees all art as a « collective action » (Art World, 1982-2008, 34). Similarly, as Raymond Williams showed for other art and media, BD is not necessarily a « text, » but a social practice, a « cultural form » (Television, 1971, p?). To complete this vast research project, the three founders of this research group (Lemay, Reyns-Chikuma, Rheault) put together a network of researchers who, based on their specialities and interests, have taken a specific domain upon themselves, and will share it first with other members of the Bt2S network, then with other researchers and the public at large.