Television, Nationalism, and Affect
Paper 192 pp.
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“My name is Joe, and I AM Canadian!” How did a beer ad featuring an unassuming guy in a plaid shirt become a national anthem? This book about Canadian TV examines how affect and consumption work together, producing national practices framed by the television screen. Drawing on the new field of affect theory, Feeling Canadian: Television, Nationalism, and Affect tracks the ways that ideas about the Canadian nation flow from screen to audience and then from body to body.
From the most recent Quebec referendum to 9/11 and current news coverage of the so-called “terrorist threat,” media theorist Marusya Bociurkiw argues that a significant intensifying of nationalist content on Canadian television became apparent after 1995. Close readings of TV shows and news items such as Canada: A People’s History, North of 60, and coverage of the funeral of Pierre Trudeau reveal how television works to resolve the imagined community of nation, as well as the idea of a national self and national others, via affect. Affect theory, with its notions of changeability, fluidity, and contagion, is, the author argues, well suited to the study of television and its audience.
Useful for scholars and students of media studies, communications theory, and national television and for anyone interested in Canadian popular culture, this highly readable book fills the need for critical scholarly analysis of Canadian television’s nationalist practices.
Marusya Bociurkiw received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of British Columbia. She has published articles, essays, and reviews in academic, arts, and activist journals and books in Canada and the United States for the past twenty years. She is the author of four literary books, and her films and videos have screened at film festivals, art house cinemas, and universities around the world. She is currently an assistant professor of media theory and head of the Media Studies stream in the School of Radio and Television Arts at Ryerson University in Toronto.
“À l’encontre de ce que soutient souvent la pensée postmoderniste, l’ouvrage de Bociurkiw illustre à quel point la question de la nation est loin d’être devenue obsolète.... Sa force se situe à deux niveaux : à l’aide de la théorie du trauma, il propose un cadre original pour étudier la formation des représentations collectives qui forgent les identités nationales ; avec finesse et sensibilité, il esquisse une image touchante de la société canadienne dans ses efforts de porter un regard réflexif sur elle-même.”
— Angeliki Koukoutsaki-Monnier, Communication
“Bociurkiw’s writing in Feeling Canadian is rich enough to provide the benefit of academic research on our media landscape. Although it examines pop culture academically, the analysis is ... accessible to readers seeking to understand the significance of mediation on our feelings and perception of nation.” (See the full review on Rabble.ca.)
— Humberto DaSilva, Rabble.ca
“Feeling Canadian is an invaluable contribution to the study of Canadian TV. It offers a rigorously theoretical and yet remarkably accessible way of thinking about how televisual representations produce feelings of nationalism. By bringing affect theory to television studies, Marusya Bociurkiw asks us to consider the feelings that television evokes in us. Drawing also on anecdotal theory, and providing anecdotes that most readers will be very familiar with, Bociurkiw’s analysis situates us firmly within the context of our own uneasy, ambivalent, and sometimes embarrassing viewing pleasures.”
— Michele Byers, Saint Mary’s University, editor of Growing Up Degrassi: Television, Identity and Youth Cultures (2005)
“Feeling Canadian is an original and incisive analysis of the pivotal role of television in creating the affective fabric of a nation. In its careful attention to, and appreciation of, the particularity of Canadian feelings, and of feeling Canadian, it provides a compelling model for accounts of different national contexts of affects, popular culture, and feelings. Feeling Canadian reminds us of the necessity to look at the differences and similarities of nationhood in the twenty-first century.”
— Elspeth Probyn, University of Sydney, author of Blush: Faces of Shame (2005)