My major field of research has been Quebec Literature: my M.A. was on André Langevin (Une chaîne dans le parc), and my PhD was on Marie-Claire Blais (all her novels, pre-1985). Throughout my career I have been studying 20th and 21st century Quebec writers such as Élise Turcotte, André Langevin, André Giroux, Claire Martin, Marie-Claire Blais, Anne Hébert, Lise Tremblay, Germaine Guèvremont, Michel Tremblay, and Hélène Monette. As the Quebec literary scene was transformed by numerous “migrant” writers, I became increasingly interested in those writers and their specific concerns. “Les écrivain-e-s migrant-e-s,” as they are referred to in French, were examining questions of identity and belonging, intolerance and racism, exile and longing, as well as impossible returns. These are all topics of great interest and relevance to me as well. My research then expanded to Quebec immigrant writers such as Ying Chen, Aki Shimazaki, Sergio Kokis, Monique Bosco, Abla Farhoud, Najib Redouane, and Gérard Étienne.
I often study the patterns and themes of violence, suffering, and death that manifest in these writers’ novels and poetry, drawing on the works of such thinkers as Georges Bataille, Emile Durkheim, and Vladimir Jankelevitch. Another interest has been the rich interrelationship between writing (in a number of languages) and other forms of art: the music in Marie-Claire Blais’ poetry; and the visual art by Meigs, Nidzgorski, Montgomery, and Kokis in Blais’, Bouraoui’s, and Kokis’ literary texts, respectively. My study of the Holocaust ties together a number of my research streams and raises new ethical conundrums. I have examined literary works dealing with the trauma of genocide in the writings of Liliane Atlan, as well as in the unusual text of Guta Tyrangiel Benezra, for example. Such authors’ resilience and transcendence through writing and artistic creation have become my primary research interests. Works by psychoanalyst and philosopher Daniel Sibony on racism and intolerance, psychiatrists Anne Ancelin-Schutzenberger and Boris Cyrulnik studying transgenerational transmission of trauma and resilience, and art therapist Avi Goren-Bar have been most relevant here. This examination will continue to be at the centre of my research in the years to come.
All these research streams have converged in the writing of a book, The Listener: In the Shadow of the Holocaust (forthcoming September 2019, University of Regina Press). Highly personal, this book deals with the intergenerational transmission of trauma and — through both my painting and writing — constitutes a testimony. I am currently developing this book into an intergenerational, interdisciplinary performance-lecture project with one of my children (a musician, performer, and scholar Dani Oore), developed for presentation at universities and institutions across Canada and beyond.