This course examines Atlantic Canada from the early interactions between the Mi'kmaq, Beothuk and the Europeans in the 16th century through to the middle of the 19th century when Atlantic Canadians adopted a modern vision of democratic culture and social improvement. Topics of study will include the powerful role of folk tradition including music, ethno-religious tension, social reform movements, and the question of Confederation.

This course will pay particular attention to the strategic use of culture and history in our contemporary world. How are perceptions of culture and history engaged for commercial, political, and other needs? How are notions of the past deployed for the creation or contestation of affinity-group identities (broadly defined)? We will look at how contemporary perspectives on historical human behaviour, and our notions of “the past,” have been formed and continue to be re-envisioned on Canada’s Atlantic coast. Who are the mediators that participate in making, unmaking, and re-making contemporary notions of history, folk culture and heritage? We will investigate how, why, and by whom the past is mediated in support of contemporary identities such as “folk,” Celtic, Gaelic, Acadian, Indigenous, Black, Atlantic, and Maritime.