Last weekend I gave a paper at a panel on rethinking regionalisms in Canadian literature¹. Three proper blog posts adapted from that paper will follow. But first, an anecdote:
The concept of region has been given a very hard time in the panel and through the question and answer period. A question is asked wherein suburbs of Vancouver are described and characterized without being named. A panelist (not me) nods in recognition and interjects “Surrey.” The question-asker brightens up and enthusiastically goes “yeah yeah!” They have hailed each other as co-regionalists; they have recognized knowledge of a region as a mutual bond and it pleased them to do it. It made them a little excited, a little happy. This is the affect of regionalism in action.
But if anyone recognized what had happened, no one said anything about it. I didn’t even realize the signifiance of the moment until my husband, Chris Piuma, pointed it out to me after the fact.
I tell this story because I don’t want to forget that moment. I want it to stand as evidence that region is still in play even when we think we’re past it. It runs deep and its actions are subtle.
¹For the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE) at Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Ottawa. Here’s the program.