Book chapter

From a Poetics of Collision to a Hermeneutics of Discovery: Rethinking Knowledge, Ecology, and History in Rudy Wiebe's A Discovery of Strangers

ContributorsBarras, Arnaud
PublisherNarr Dr. Gunter
Publication date2015

In this essay, I argue that Rudy Wiebe's A Discovery of Strangers (1994) contributes to destabilizing and dissolving the rigid boundaries set up by monological and dualistic epistemology. This novel of historiographic metafiction illustrates well the dialogical nature of postcolonial environmental literature. The novel represents the exploration of Arctic Canada in the nineteenth century both from the storytelling perspective of the indigenous Dene community, the Tetsot'ine, and from the historical perspective of the English explorers. This narrative configuration is not antithetical, for it causes the reader to reexamine the hyperseparation of history and story, fact and fiction, and colonial and indigenous ecological knowledge. Instead of separating these binaries, Wiebe's novel unites them through a poetics of collision and a hermeneutics of discovery. In this context, the act of reading is both creative and critical: it consists in piecing together this polyvocal storyworld, and by doing so, to question North American colonial history from a double perspective. In reading A Discovery of Strangers, one enacts dialogism and is made to reflect on it. Ultimately, the reader's responsibility is twofold: it consists in unveiling the harmful exclusion of differences while asserting the need for creative dialogue.

  • Hermeneutics
  • Poetics
  • Rudy wiebe
  • Canada
  • Literature
  • Postcolonial
  • Historiographic metafiction
  • A discovery of strangers
  • Franklin expedition
  • Colonial history
  • Swiss National Science Foundation - Doc.Mobility
Citation (ISO format)
BARRAS, Arnaud. From a Poetics of Collision to a Hermeneutics of Discovery: Rethinking Knowledge, Ecology, and History in Rudy Wiebe’s A Discovery of Strangers. In: Literature, Ethics, Morality: American Studies Perspectives. [s.l.] : Narr Dr. Gunter, 2015. p. 195–214.
Main files (1)
Book chapter (Published version)
  • PID : unige:76906

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