Locations of identity: Space, place, and mobility in contemporary Quebecois immigrant literature

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member

David Ellison - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Celita Lamar - Committee Member


This dissertation examines how space, place, and mobility shape the identities of the protagonists in selected works by five contemporary francophone Quebecois writers of Middle Eastern origin. The three principal axes of analysis are: spatial limitation and restrictions to mobility; the act of relocating and starting anew; and sociolinguistic interaction in a new environment. The field of identity discourse in Quebec has dealt predominantly with questions of collective identity, with the result that analysis of the individual has remained largely neglected. Therefore, I argue that the starting point for approaching issues of identity should be the individual rather than the group. However, because identity is created by the interplay between singular and collective forces, neither can be ignored. Examining the geographical and social locations that the characters occupy offers a clearer understanding of how they relate to their environment and to the people with whom they share it. In each location the characters have different meanings for different people, illustrating the extent to which mobility is integral to the construction of their identity. I conclude that these characters are transformed as a result of how they relate to their environment, and that this transformation is illustrative of the changing shape of Quebecois identity.


Literature, Modern; Literature, Canadian (French)

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