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Thèse - Julie FREDETTE

« Rare Poems Ask Rare Friends » : Literary Circles and Cultural Capital. The Case of Montreal's Jubilate Circle 


The field of literature taken as a sociological phenomenon has enlightened and deepened our knowledge and appreciation of several national literatures, and the works of Pierre Bourdieu and Georg Simmel in this field are now considered ground-breaking. In Québec, the Groupe de recherche sur l’édition littéraire au Québec (now operating under the name « Groupe de recherche sur l’étude du livre au Québec ») has been particularly active in studying the sociological conditions that make literature possible in this Canadian province. Parallel to this, the Équipe de recherche interuniversitaire en littérature anglo-québécoise (ÉRILAQ) has gathered researchers interested in the “contact zone,” to borrow an expression from Catherine Leclerc and Sherry Simon, that is Anglo-Quebec literature. This dissertation will combine these two interests in order to study in greater depth the discourse and works of the poets of the Jubilate Circle, a network of poets writing in English in Québec at the turn of the twenty-first century. It will not only seek to prove the existence of a literary circle, it will attempt to showcase how the circle itself has contributed to advancing its members’ literary careers. In keeping with Pierre Bourdieu’s theories of cultural, symbolic and social capital, this dissertation will present, from the outset, a prosopographical sketch of the four poets that make up the Jubilate Circle, and examine the conditions in which they met, bonded as a group (of friends and of colleagues) and came to found the Jubilate Circle. Following this, the instances in which capital of all kinds (symbolic, cultural and social) were exchanged by the four poets will be examined through a close reading of correspondence, dedications, book jacket blurbs and even of the poetry itself. In an attempt to identify the homogeneous in the cacophony of discourse, to paraphrase Marc Angenot, the Jubilate Poets’ discourse on Canadian poetry, enunciated in interviews, essays, book reviews and in the press will then be examined. This will provide a better understanding of the position they hold, or wish to hold, within the field of Canadian poetry and indeed within its canon, existing or future. Finally, an analysis of the poetry they have produced will serve to underscore those aspects of their discourse that are deemed particularly relevant and will highlight areas in which some contradictions may be observed. As a whole, this dissertation will shed some light on the production of poetry, of its criticism and of its publication not only as a literary phenomenon, but also as a profoundly social one.