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In this text, Maurice Charland and Michael Dorland examine how, over the roughly 400-year period since the encounter of First Peoples with Europeans in North America, rhetorical or discursive fields took form in politics and constitution-making, in the formation of a public sphere, and in education and language. The study looks at how these fields changed over time within the French regime, the British regime, and in Canada since 1867, and how they converged through trial and error into a Canadian civil culture. The authors establish a triangulation of fields of discourse formed by law (as a technical discourse system), rhetoric (as a public discourse system), and irony (as a means of accessing the public realm as the key pillars upon which a civil culture in Canada took form) in order to scrutinize the process of creating a civil culture. By presenting case studies ranging from the legal implications of the transition from French to English law, to the continued importance of the Louis Riel case and trial, the authors provide detailed analyses of how communication practices form a common institutional culture.
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'This is a major and sustained engagement with the history of Canadian governance which while locking-horns with the conventional Canadian historical lexicon provides a reading that comes at it from a rich and sophisticated alternative mode of reading history.' -- Alan Hunt, Department of Law, Carleton University.

About the Author

Maurice Charland is Professor of Communication Studies at Concordia University. Michael Dorland is Professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University.

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