Heroes, Villains and Canucks: Constructing Canadian “Otherness” in American Juvenile Sporting Fiction, 1890-1940

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Spring 2007

Project Description/Abstract

What did it mean to be a real American boy in the fifty years before World War II? How did that image help define what Americans thought of Canada? This project studies the literary construction of national character in these years through a rich, but underused source: the scores of sports novels and short stories for boys produced during the heyday of the “pulps,” 1890s-1940s. Scholars have identified this popular literature as a vehicle celebrating quintessential American traits; but boys’ sports fiction simultaneously constructed otherness, articulating difference from the American ideal. In those stories that involved winter settings and the sport of ice hockey, almost invariably Canada and Canadians appear. In American hockey stories, the game was used as a canvas on which national cultures were played out, even between cultures as ostensibly similar as Canada and the U.S. This project will examine and interpret the meaning of those depictions, drawing examples from a study of more than 50 novels and 250 short stories.

This document is currently not available here.