So, I just started class again yesterday. Which means I've been spending a lot of time looking at course outlines. And (as the title to this post implies) I've noticed something. It's a seemingly insignificant thing, but I actually find it really interesting. It's just a little word string that crops up over and over again in the syllabuses for arts courses (in high school or university): "With special emphasis on Canadian content"*.
"With special emphasis on Canadian content". Now, I think that's valuable. I think it's good to look at what people in our own country are doing, because I feel like their efforts are often overlooked. Where it becomes interesting is when you compare us to, say, America. Now, I've never taken a class there, so I am to a certain extent, talking through my hat here. But I'm guessing most courses don't include "with special emphasis on American content" in their descriptions. And furthermore? I'm betting a lot of those courses still primarily focus on American content.
Why is this? If I had to hazard a guess, it would be something like the following: the USA is (to be frank) a bit of a domineering country. It's built a national identity around the idea of being the top of the heap, of being the best. And as such, it promotes its cultural products pretty aggressively, even in other markets. To use the nomenclature of identity politics, it sets itself up as an unmarked or neutral category.
And what that means for Canada is that we have to, to a certain extent, define ourselves oppositionally. Many Canadians consume mainly (or entirely, even!) American cultural products--American television, movies, theatre, literature...heck, even American foods and beverages! (Most major food chains here--the obvious exception being Tim Hortons--are rooted in the US). And that means that, without courses explicitly protecting Canadian content, it's going to be lost in the shuffle. Which would be a damn shame, because there are some wonderful, vibrant, talented voices coming out of Canada. Voices which all too often go ignored.
I don't have any neat conclusions to draw here--just an observation I thought was worth sharing. It's amazing, how unexpected the sources for inspiration can be.
*Or some variant thereof.
[Crossposted to Dreamwidth]