The Plasticity of Identity: Portrayals of Subjectivity and Identity as Cultural Constructions

    • Présentatrice(s) ou présentateur(s)

    The question of difference, much like that of identity, is highly emotive; seemingly relying on a series of binaries, choices are offered as means to define not only ourselves, but the world around us. Notions of ‘belonging’ are often explored in conjecture to those of exile, and the affected description of who we are is dependent on what is perceived as ‘other’. Through language, imagined communities (Anderson) become subjected to socio-cultural boundaries rather than national ones, highlighting the notion that subjectivity and identity are indeed linguistically determined cultural constructions. Indeed, Barker and Galasiński argue that identity is not a “timeless essence” but rather a flexible notion, “plastic and changeable being specific to particular social and cultural conjunctures” (Barker 28) . By examining certain plurilingual works of Canadian literature – namely those of Rawi Hage and Lola Lemire Tostevin – this paper will explore the notion of plasticity of identity, showing how plurilingual interventions in the text are used to characterize multilingual characters and cultural circles, blurring the lines of belonging with their various socio-linguistic identities.


    – Godard, Barbara. “Theorizing Feminist Discourse/Translation.” Tessera 6 “La traduction au feminine/Translating Women” (Spring 1989), pp.42-53. Print.

    – Tostevin, Lola Lemire. —, “The Pregnant Pause as Conceptual Space (or gimme a break),” Open Letter 6.7 (Spring 1987), pp.74-76. Print.

    – Moyes, Lianne. “to bite the bit between the teeth: Lola Lemire Tostevin’s bilingual literary practice.” Textual Studies in Canada, Issue 5 (1994), pp.75-83. Print.

    – Barker, Chris and Dariusz Galasiński. Cultural Studies and Discourse Analysis : A Dialogue on Language and Identity, London : Sage Publications Ltd, 2001.


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