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Everyday Landscapes: Picturing Places of Labour, Leisure, and Industry in Quebec's Eastern Townships, 1900-2015


Everyday Landscapes: Picturing Places of Labour, Leisure, and Industry in Quebec's Eastern Townships, 1900-2015

Beaudoin, Caroline (2017) Everyday Landscapes: Picturing Places of Labour, Leisure, and Industry in Quebec's Eastern Townships, 1900-2015. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Focusing on the Eastern Townships area of Quebec, this dissertation attends to the complex values that can be assigned to landscape as visual representation, and to landscape as place. The case-studies, beginning at the turn of the 20th-century, consider landscape in relation to a broad network of social relations and cultural meanings. Section I of the thesis starts by examining paintings and illustrations of loggers by F.S. Coburn as a way to address the logging industry in the Eastern Townships, and to consider the presence or absence of labour in landscape representation. Section II concentrates on early 20th-century postcards of towns, sites of leisure and asbestos mines in the region. I approach these postcards as modern material agents that articulate the everydayness of landscape and place through their imagery, as well as through their usage. Section III comes up to the present day through a discussion of an eco-park in Magog that negotiates the tension between ecological activism and eco-tourism, as the Eastern Townships struggles to achieve a post-industrial identity.

Organized into three chronological and overlapping sections that span 115 years of one region's history, the thesis develops an approach to landscape that is both art-historical and interdisciplinary. This study builds on recent scholarship within Canadian art history that challenges the association of landscape art with a myth about the country’s uninhabited wilderness; the region's landscapes studied here are inhabited, and imbued with rural, industrial and bilingual histories. The visual culture methodology deployed here means that canonical modes of artistic landscape representations are addressed relative to landscape images circulating on postcards, newspaper and book illustrations, documentary photographs, a labour recruitment booklet and an ecopark's website for example.

The theoretical and scholarly foundation of this thesis has been constructed by drawing on discussions of landscape by art historians, but also by sociologists, geographers, anthropologists, and philosophers. It is this interdisciplinary breadth that allows landscapes to be regarded as sites of everyday human interactions, that inevitably intersect with collective, commercial and political motives, and with cultural ideals, interests, and values. The writings of Henri Lefebvre on the value of the everyday have been important for this thesis, as has his critique of capitalist practices of labour and leisure. Another key author is Félix Guattari who was also highly critical of capitalism, while turning his attention to the state of the world's post-industrial ecology. Likewise, this thesis calls attention to the role of capitalist initiatives in the production of everyday landscapes. This analysis of diverse landscape images is meant to shed light on the Eastern Townships' complex identity as it transitions from a former industrial modern era to its current post-industrial phase. This thesis asks what the term landscape has come to imply measured against social tensions relating to class differences, or economic and environmental imperatives, and how its range of meanings can encompass territory, property, picture, place, and environment.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Beaudoin, Caroline
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Art History
Date:10 April 2017
Thesis Supervisor(s):Sloan, Johanne
Keywords:landscape, Eastern Townships, Quebec history, natural environment, postcards
ID Code:982512
Deposited On:31 May 2017 15:38
Last Modified:28 Feb 2018 18:06
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