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Christl Verduyn
Mount Allison University
Vol. 3 (2013), Articles
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This article looks at the use of the essay genre by Canadian and Québécois women writers since 2000, in particular essay writing by authors known primarily for their works of fiction and poetry. For many, the essay form has served as an ideal venue for combining new, innovative, experimental and “alternative” forms of writing with concerns of personal and political struggle for social, cultural, economic, and even psychological recognition and justice. The article begins with a brief overview of aspects of essay writing by Canadian and Québécois women writers at the end of the 20th century before turning to some comparative observations that suggest convergences and differences, as well as continuity and departures in essay writing by Canadian and Québécois women writers since the beginning of the 21st century. Convergences are seen in the combination of personal commentary on topics of social, political, national and global relevance with experimental use of the essay genre. They are seen as well in the continuum of these explorations and practices from the last two decades of the 20th century into the first decade of the 21st century, even as the latter brings about new forms of essay writing in the use of the internet and the blog-essay. Differences between Canadian and Québécois women writers’ practice of the essay may be seen as well, notably in what one literary and critical community reads and knows of the other. This stems in large part from language barriers and limited resources for translation, though these have been overcome in some cases such as the collection of essays by Nicole Brossard in English translation, Fluid Arguments (2005). Whether writing in French or in English, Canadian and Québécois women writers as essayists have produced and continue to produce important work that calls for ongoing critical attention. 

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