Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Sociology professor Dr. Patricia Cormack highlighted for research on Mike Myers and Canadian identity

June 19th, 2017
Dr. Patricia Cormack

Mike Myers’ new memoir Canada is a revealing case study about the role of the state in Canadian identity, says StFX sociology professor Dr. Patricia Cormack.

Her work was singled out as 9,000 academics gathered in Toronto last month for the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, and highlighted in a National Post article, Mike Myers nostalgia for a golden age of nationalism highlights a Canadian identity crisis: professor.

The article appeared as part of the week-long Oh, The Humanities! series, in which the National Post showcased some of the most interesting research presented at the conference.

“Mike Myers just wrote a memoir called Canada, which is interesting in itself in that he doesn’t call it ‘My Canada, but ‘Canada,” says Dr. Cormack, co-author of the 2013 book, Desiring Canada: CBC Contests, Hockey Violence, and other Stately Pleasures.

In this book, she and co-author Dr. James F. Cosgrave explore connections between these symbols of Canadian identity, media, and the Canadian state, and how they shape our understanding of being Canadian.

Dr. Cormack says when she saw the memoir by Mr. Myers, she was interested in the recurring themes of state and pleasure and national identity.

“The book is two things. It’s a memoir, and it’s about a discussion of what Canada should be,” she says.

“He also hasn’t been in Canada since he was about 22. He’s been away for three decades.”

She says Mr. Myers, who grew up in middle class suburbs near Toronto, presents an idealized version of his childhood, and talks about returning to this version of Canada that existed between roughly Expo 67 and the 1972 Summit Series.

She says he talks about everything good in Canadian culture attributed to state organs like the CBC and free health care, and everything bad glossed over or ignored.

“He has that idealized version of what the state is like. I was really struck by that,” she says.

“It’s one of the weird tensions in the book, presenting this idea of what Canada should be, using his childhood to construct a version of Canada, that that was the time and place where Canada had it all right.”

In terms of national identity, this is how one person sees the past, but there are so many other voices now, with difference experiences, she says.

Dr. Cormack presented her research as a case study during a round table at the Congress, where participants receive comments and feedback on their research. She is now thinking of turning the work into a research paper. 

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