Conférence de Dominic Hardy « Frankenstein’s Tory: satire and suture in 19th and 20th century Canadian visual culture. Notes from the field »

Résumé : In May 1844, the editors of the short-lived Le Charivari Canadien, launched in the wake of recent murderous election riots of which Montreal seemed to make a specialty in the 1840s, offered their readers a visual ‘citation’, taken from a cartoon that had been designed by Kenny Meadows and published in the London Punch six months earlier. Where Meadows had shown British readers the vexed question of independence for Ireland as a frightening monster assembled by ‘Frankenstein’ (Irish political leader Daniel O’Connell), the Charivari canadien offered this ‘creature’ to its audience as the definitive portrait of a Montreal British Tory Merchant. This rereading across transatlantic contexts and across linguistic communities is characteristic of a certain configuration that recurs in Canadian history. In times of political and social conflict, caricature and graphic satire before and after Confederation has given memorable indicators of the negotiations, by turns carnavalesque and difficult, through which the Canadian public sphere acquires and then sheds ever-reinvented (ironic) visual identities. Whether in conjunction with Canada’s Rebellions (in Lower and Upper Canada, in the Northwest) or through the constant transformation of Canadian societies before, between and following the world wars, these identities seem to be persistently plural, marked by such cross-purposed borrowings. In presenting several of the case studies carried out since 2009 by the research team Caricature et satire graphique à Montréal, I hope to draw an outline for a conceptual framework through which the historical record of this instability could be placed in counterpoint to the recent attempts made by the federal government at fixing the parameters of Canada’s visual identity through its own recourse to – and reinvention of – the nation’s history.