Rewriting the Break Event: Mennonites and Migration in Canadian Literature by Robert ZachariasRewriting the Break Event: Mennonites and Migration in Canadian Literature by Robert Zacharias

Rewriting the Break Event: Mennonites and Migration in Canadian Literature

byRobert Zacharias

Paperback | September 20, 2013

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Despite the fact that Russian Mennonites began arriving in Canada en masse in the 1870s, Mennonite Canadian literature has been marked by a compulsive retelling of the mass migration of some 20,000 Russian Mennonites to Canada following the collapse of the “Mennonite Commonwealth” in the 1920s. This privileging of a seminal dispersal within the community’s broader history reveals the ways in which the 1920s narrative has come to function as an origin story, or “break event,” for the Russian Mennonites in Canada, serving to affirm a communal identity across national and generational boundaries. Drawing on recent work in diaspora studies, Rewriting the Break Event offers a historicization of Mennonite literary studies in Canada, followed by close readings of five novels that rewrite the Mennonite break event through specific strains of emphasis, including a religious narrative, ethnic narrative, trauma narrative, and meta-narrative. The result is thoughtful and engaging exploration of the shifting contours of Mennonite collective identity, and an exciting new methodology that promises to resituate the discourse of migrant writing in Canada.
Robert Zacharias is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo, and a Visiting Scholar with the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto. He is the associate editor of the Journal of Mennonite Studies, and co-editor, with Smaro Kambo...
Title:Rewriting the Break Event: Mennonites and Migration in Canadian LiteratureFormat:PaperbackDimensions:232 pages, 8.95 × 6.07 × 0.6 inPublished:September 20, 2013Publisher:University of Manitoba PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0887557473

ISBN - 13:9780887557477


Table of Contents

Introduction: On Rewriting Migration in Canadian Literature Ch. 1: Mennonite History and/as Literature Ch. 2: Gelassenheit or Exodus: My Harp Is Turned to Mourning and the Theo-Pedagogical Narrative Ch. 3: Dreaming das Völklein: Lost in the Steppe and the Narrative of Ethnicity Ch. 4: The Individual in the Communal Story: The Russländer and the Narrative of Trauma Ch. 5: The Strain of Diaspora: The Blue Mountains of China and the Meta-Narrative Conclusion: On Reading Migration in Canadian Literature

Editorial Reviews

“While migration and immigration have always been of central importance in Canadian writing, there is hardly any ethnic or religious group in Canada whose fate has been dominated by migration as much as that of the Mennonites. This applies especially to the ‘Russian’ Mennonites, who started out in Frisia and—after settling in Eastern Prussia and Russia (or Ukraine, in modern terms)—finally came to Canada. There have been a few books on Mennonite Canadian writing and on its surprising success, but Robert Zacharias’s Rewriting the Break Event is the best one to date.” - Martin Kuester