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It is productive to read Dumont’s and Robinson’s texts within this North American tradition because it sets out the aesthetic and political terms used to inscribe Canadian nationhood into social memory and correspondingly neglect Native and Métis nationhood.Recent studies of captivity narratives engage with the particular ways in which the literary conventions of this genre inscribe gendered subjectivity, racial alterity, and national identity onto the cultural consciousness.Roy Pearce’s pioneering article “The Significances of the Captivity Narrative” (1947) argues for the recognition of multiple genres of captivity narratives by historicizing their numerous reworkings.Yet, it is precisely because they are ideologically invested in its literary conventions that Robinson’s and Dumont’s texts should now be considered within this literary and cultural context.Locating these texts within the conventions of captivity narratives raises questions about the social significance of the genre by invoking both the politics of form and the form of politics.It describes the events leading up to the capture and hanging of Louis Riel and Dumont’s efforts to avoid a similar fate.These memoirs, translated into English by Michael Barnholden and published for the first time in 1993, are Dumont’s second published account of the Métis uprising.1 Harry Robinson’s “Captive in an English Circus,” a told-to story that was recorded and transcribed by ethnographer Wendy Wickwire, is set in 1886, a year after Canada’s Northwest Rebellions.Contemporary critics have probed these changes to further their understandings of the colonial project, white femininity, and the act of literary interpretation.3 This essay resituates this genre within a broader literary and cultural context that includes Native-authored texts about captivity and the Northwest Rebellions in order to rethink the politics of Canadian nationalism as well as literary genres.



The basic plot of the captivity narrative has remained fairly constant over three centuries: “an innocent woman and her children [are] attacked at a frontier homestead, carried away by savages, and subjected to violence, privation, and humiliation, before finally being rescued or ransomed or escaping to the white community” (Sayre 5).However, there have been significant alterations to the language in which these plots have been rendered.


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