The protean prairie: examining identity constructions in contemporary Canadian literature
Werbiski, Anthony Robert
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This thesis examines processes of identity construction as they are represented in four contemporary prairie texts. In his book The Protean Self: Human Resilience in an Age of Fragmentation, Robert J. Lifton describes a process of identity formation that he terms proteanism, which denotes a certain “responsive shapeshifting” (Lifton 9) that allows the self to maintain fluid or malleable relationships with the various forces that affect or influence its construction. Through this analysis I intend to show how the authorial personae created in The Kappa Child by Hiromi Goto, Esi Edugyan’s The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, Steppe: A Novel by John Weier and City Treaty by Marvin Francis demonstrate, in their identitarian struggles, protean forms of resilience when dealing with the forces of genre and formal convention, as well as with the politics of postcolonialism, ethnicity, authenticity and authority that impress upon their identities and surge within their narratives.