The Legend of La Corriveau: Québécois Folklore and The Politics of Nation-Making in Canada

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Savath, Leslie




This dissertation examines the role played by Québécois folklore in Canadian metanarratives of nation using as a case study "La Corriveau," a Québécois murderess whose folkloric tale emerged during the pivotal British Conquest of New France in 1760. It analyzes how the figure of La Corriveau expresses and mediates conflicts between English and French Canada in both literary traditions. Reading through intertextual and interlingual lenses francophone and anglophone texts addressing the legend of La Corriveau such as Philippe Aubert de Gaspé's Les anciens Canadiens (1863), William Kirby's The Golden Dog (1877), Victor-Lévy Beaulieu's Ma Corriveau (1973), Anne Hébert's La cage (1990), and Douglas Glover's "La Corriveau" (1993), as well as examining La Corriveau's portrayal in life writing, popular film, and the global marketplace, this dissertation argues that the legend and its reinterpretations are reworked by both Québécois and English-Canadian authors in a desire to recuperate the figure for distinct national metanarratives of Québec and English Canada. For Québécois writers, the legend has provided a semantically flexible focal point for national image-making across a range of historical contexts and ideological positions, from French-Canadian survivance to Québécois nationalism and settler nationalism. For English-Canadian writers, meanwhile, and in constant dialogue with Québécois uses of the legend, La Corriveau has been made to serve an equally complex and often contradictory role in narratives that alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) reinforce, question, and rewrite English-Canadian metanarratives of romantic nationalism. As it traces ongoing conversations among Québécois, English-Canadian, as well as other francophone and anglophone revisions of the legend, this dissertation shows not only how La Corriveau has developed as a mediator of French- and English-Canadian identity, but also how its treatment continues to regulate images of Indigenous presence in relation to those national metanarratives.


Literature - Canadian (English)
Literature - Canadian (French)
Literature - Comparative




Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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