[Fragment of an unfinished, unpublished book review.]


Gendering the Nation


How strange to live in a country in which two of the most seminal films by women are Bonnie Klein's Not a Love Story and Joyce Weiland's The Far Shore. I was tempted to say "paradigmatic" instead of "seminal," but all of our truly exemplary films are too banal to warrant sustained consideration. (Plus, I can't resist "seminal" in a feminist context.) Like all truly boring things, you can try to think of them but they will escape memory and disappear. What remains for us — our heritage in Canadian film — is the monstrous, the malformed, the unrecognizable.

Not to say it's a bad thing to be monstrous and malformed, but the canon-building aspects of an academic anthology make it kind of like a high school prom — no freaks allowed, only those who can confidently claim status as an appropriate subject can pass through. But what if you hold your own prom and discover the invited guests turn out to be freaks? It would result in the "scholastic mortification" co-editor Kay Armitage describes (quoting Irit Rogoff) in her essay on Nell Shipman.