Rewriting the Break Event: Mennonites & Migration in Canadian Literature

Book, 2013, 227 pp
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Despite the fact that Russian Mennonites began arriving in Canada en masse in the 1870s, Canadian Mennonite literature has been characterized by a compulsive telling and retelling of the migration of some 20,000 Russian Mennonites to Canada following the collapse of the “Mennonite Commonwealth” in the 1920s.

This privileging of a seminal dispersal within the broader historic narrative reveals the ways in which the 1920s narrative has come to function as an origin story, or “break event,” for the Russian Mennonite community in Canada, serving to affirm a communal identity across national and generational boundaries.

Rewriting the Break Event examines the fictionalization of the Mennonite break event through strains of religious, ethnic, trauma, and meta-narratives. The result is an exciting new methodology through which to examine the shifting contours of Mennonite collective identity, and a thoughtful and engaging argument that resituates the discourse of migrant writing in Canada.

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