“Hello Canada! It’s Fine to Have You Here.” : Canadian nationhood, women, and popular fiction during the second World War.

Smith, Michelle (2009) “Hello Canada! It’s Fine to Have You Here.” : Canadian nationhood, women, and popular fiction during the second World War. Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 44 (1). pp. 5-22. ISSN 0021-9894

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Abstract

This paper explores original material from a collection of Canadian mass-market magazines that were intended for a female audience during the Second World War. Of these magazines, Chatelaine and the Canadian Home Journal were the most popular, reaching an estimated audience of one and half million readers each month. For the duration of the War, both periodicals devoted themselves to telling readers about war-related topics, causing both the non-fiction and fiction contents of the magazines to become infused with nationalism. Women were addressed as national subjects and asked to dedicate themselves to the War effort in every aspect of their lives; simultaneously, Canada's relationship with Britain during a time of war was both taken for granted and scrutinized in the articles and romance fiction directed at these women. In order to understand these twin phenomena, I begin by providing a brief overview of the articles, advertising and editorial commentary within the magazines, and then move on to an analysis of the short story, “Lady Going West”. Published in July 1942, the story is a representative example of the fiction circulated by Chatelaine and the Journal from 1939—45. In essence, it combined the conventions of the romance genre (thought to be the preferred genre for female readers) with underlying anxieties about the War in a way that, ostensibly, soothed those anxieties. The story thus communicates much about how the War was imagined through popular fiction, as it explores both women's role within the nation at war and Canada's relationship with the United Kingdom.