The National Allegory of Fraternity: Loyalist Literature and the Making of Canada’s White British Origins Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • This essay critically examines a rhetorical trope that contributed significantly to the naturalization of white British masculinity as the assumed norm for Canadian citizenship, the “allegory of fraternity” - and particularly its menacing corollary of fratricide - reappears over a 100-year span (1840 to 1943) in novels, epic poems and verse dramas that posit the United Empire Loyalists as the nation’s progenitors, especially through the times of testing they and their descendants endured in the War of 1812, the Revolutionary War, and the Rebellions of 1837. The essay argues that this recurrent allegory conveys a nervous, “unofficial curriculum” which promotes a specific form of whiteness — patterned after the British officer class’s code of honour and enterprise — as the natural order for the Canadian nation.

publication date

  • August 2001

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