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The Americas in Canada, Brno, Czech Republic

  • Written by Dominika Kováčová

At a time when Canada is celebrating its one hundred and fiftieth birthday, it is important to remember that, despite its historical roots in Europe, Canada is in fact a child of the New World - that it is an American country. 

With its neighbours throughout the Americas, Canada has shared many concerns, among them the daunting task of coming to terms with the new American space, both physically and symbolically; the negotiation of its relationship to the Old World and the "Mother Country"; the need to invent its own historical narrative; the development of a new society and new social relations; the creation of a distinctive culture; the necessity of coming to terms with aboriginal peoples.  At the same time, dealing with these and other similar challenges has been complicated by many factors that, in the American context, are perhaps unique to Canada - the sheer size and emptiness of the Canadian space; the lack of a revolutionary tradition; the extremity of the climate; the fundamental diversity of the country and the need to create unity while maintaining difference; the relationship to the dominant culture of the New World, that of the United States; the legal status of the aboriginal peoples as "allies of the Crown".  These and other influences have all contributed to making Canada a unique American country.

The conference aims to treat Canada's "Americanness" from as broad a perspective as possible, welcoming contributions from scholars in the fields of literary and cultural studies, historians, political scientists, geographers, sociologists, anthropologists and those in other relevant disciplines. 

What does "America" mean for Canada? What is its vision of "America"? What in it is distinct, what divergent from practice elsewhere in the Americas?  What forms does the "Canadian Dream" take? 

Keynote speakers:

  • Richard Nimijean, Carleton University, Ottawa - "Reframing Canadian 'Americanness' and Cross-Border Relations in the Age of Trump"
  • Peter Klaus, Freie Universität, Berlin - «Canadianité, Américanité, Québécité : quel destin pour la littérature québécoise?» 

Conference programme: click here

H.E. Barbara Richardson

H.E. Barbara C. Richardson, Canadian Ambassador to the Czech Republic, opening the conference


9th European Seminar for Postgraduate Students in Canadian Studies Photographs

9th European Seminar for Postgraduate Students in Canadian Studies

At the Chateau of Milotice. From left to right: Aleksander Kustec (SLO), Rita Licsicsányi (H), Vladimír Šída (CZ), Katalin Kürtósi (H), Robert Schwartzwald (USA), Jeff Vanderziel (CZ), Don Sparling (CZ), Zuzanna Szatanik (PL), Anna Reczynska (PL), Leona Kovaríková (CZ), Iris Gruber (A), Petr Vurm (CZ), Nadia Pardini (I), Pavel Filip (CZ), Petr Stehlík (CZ), Magdalena Czechowska (PL), Rikke J. Ljungmann (DK), Yannick Meunier (F), Nathalie Zeoli (B), Philippe Durand (F), Ariane Cyr (F).


From the Reception: Don Sparling, Margaret Huber (the Canadian Ambassador to the Czech and Slovak Republics), David Kilgour

From a Session. From left to right: Adina Ruiu-Mosescu (RO), Ariane Cyr (F), Philippe Durand (F), Robert Schwartzwald (USA).

L'équipe quasi-francaise. Yannick Meunier, Philippe Durand, Nathalie Zeoli (B), Ariane Cyr, Aleksander Kustec (SLO), Mathilde Dargnat..

From the Wine-cellar at Horni Bojanovice.


Canada in the European Mind

Canada in the European Mind

More than 60 Canadianists from 12 countries took part in the First International Conference on "Canada in the European Mind" between 24-27 October 2002 in Debrecen, Hungary. Over 50 papers were presented in all areas of Canadian Studies from literature to sociology both in English and French. The participants included Mr. Alan Bowker, Director of International Academic Relations Department, DFAIT, from Ottawa as well as Mr. Ronald Halpin, Ambassador of Canada in Budapest who talked about the relationship between Canada and Hungary. The plenary speaker was Professor Tibor Egervári from the University of Ottawa. After several years' attempt and hard work, Don Sparling managed to realise the formal establishment of the Association of Central European Canadianists which will include members from Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Yugoslavia and Hungary.

2nd International Conference of Central European Canadianists


The network of Central European Canadianists is doing well. Set up a few years ago as a flexible structure of intercommunication among Canadianists and centers of Canadian Studies in the countries of Central Europe, the network is steered by a Committee made up of representatives of seven countries in the region, with Don Sparling as their president, in his double quality of specialist in Canadian Studies and of Canadian resident in the Czech Republic.

The first conference of the network took place in November 1998 in Brno, Czech Republic. The second conference was held this year, between 26-28 October, in Bucharest, Romania.

The proceedings brought together researchers and academics from different fields, but specializing in Canadian Studies. The participants came from 8 Central European countries - Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Slovenia, Yugoslavia, Romania, as well as from Canada, France and Germany. The topic of the conference was Individual and Community: Canada in the Twentieth Century. Representatives of the Canadian Embassies in the respective Central European countries also took part in the conference, as well as high officials of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs. The conference was also a good opportunity to debate the transformation of the network of the Central European specialists in Canadian Studies into an International Association of Central European Canadianists, with the aim of achieving a better cooperation and of promoting vaster research projects involving higher education institutes.

The fifty-five papers presented in the 3 sessions of the conference (cultural representations; poetic, dramatic and fictional discourses; politics and institutions) led to animated discussions, fertile debates and exchanges of ideas that may bear fruit in definite future projects of cooperation. The general meeting of the participants pronounced themselves favourable to the idea of transforming the network into an International Association of Central European Canadianists, whose structure and constitution will be established in the months to come. At the conference two important related events took place - the launch of the first issue of the Central European Journal of Canadian Studies, and of the volume of the proceedings of the first Brno conference.

The conference was organized by the Canadian Studies Center of the University of Bucharest on behalf of the Central European Network of Canadian Studies, benefiting from the generous support of the Canadian Government.

9th European Seminar for Graduate Students in Canadian Studies

9th European Seminar for Graduate Students in Canadian Studies
Brno, 16 - 18 October 2000

The ninth European postgraduate seminar for Canadian Studies took place in Brno, the Czech Republic, from 16-18 October. The decision to hold the seminar in Central Europe reflected one of the ongoing concerns of the European Network for Canadian Studies - fostering the development of Canadian Studies in that region - and Brno as venue was a logical follow-up to the first international Central European Canadian Studies conference, held there two years ago in November 1998. What follows is a brief report on the main aspects of the seminar.

Participants. Altogether 22 students were chosen to participate in the seminar. Unfortunately 3 of them dropped out before the actual seminar, one of them only two days before it began and another on the first day (the day she had been planning to arrive). This meant 19 papers were delivered in the working sessions of the seminar.

The range of countries represented was good; particularly encouraging was the Central European component, which made up approximately one-third of the total. By country, the participants came from Great Britain (1), Denmark (1), Finland (1), Belgium (1), France (4), Spain (2), Italy (1), Austria (1), Poland (2), the Czech Republic (1), Hungary (2), Romania (2). Similarly, the range of topics dealt with was very wide: only five or six papers could be termed "purely" literary, while the rest dealt with such fields as film, federalism, the media and language, anthropology, health measures, ethnicity and identity. Finally, there was also a good language mix, with 8 papers delivered in French and 11 in English.

In addition to the students, there were also a number of academics present. These included Cornelius Remie, Convenor of the European Network for Canadian Studies, Robert Schwartzwald, Editor of the International Journal of Canadian Studies, Alan Hallsworth, past President of the British Association for Canadian Studies, members of the Central European Steering Committee for Canadian Studies, and several teachers from Masaryk University who are involved with Canadian Studies.

The Programme. Working sessions were spread over two and a half days, giving ample time for the papers and subsequent discussions. These were "closed", in the sense that only the participants themselves and teachers were present. The basic format was to have the papers delivered in groups of three, grouped loosely according to theme and, usually, language; each speaker had a twenty-minute maximum, and then a thirty-minute discussion period followed. Discussions were relaxed, lively and usually very much to the point. The quality of the papers ranged from good to excellent. Even those who were not in doctoral programmes presented papers based on work for master's degrees they had just defended or were about to defend, so there was no sense of presentations based on preliminary work. It is planned to publish a selection of the best papers.

In addition to the working sessions, there were two open sessions. At the first of these, which in fact opened the seminar itself, Prof. Alan Cairns of the University of Waterloo delivered a wide-ranging and immensely stimulating keynote address on "Aboriginal peoples in Canada - current issues and future prospects". The next day, Cornelius Remie, from the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, gave a fascinating lecture on the Inuit and Nunavut. Both attracted much attention and drew large audiences of students and members of the general public.

At the end of the seminar, on the final afternoon and evening, there was an excursion that took in the battlefield of Austerlitz (where the French participants found themselves at home on a little patch of extraterritorial French soil marking the spot from where Napoleon commanded the battle), the Baroque chateau at Milotice, and a wonderful wine-cellar at Horni Bojanovice where a group of local folk musicians provided the background to the winetasting and dining. By common consent, it was a great ending to a great seminar.

Some photographs from the seminar.