Archives mensuelles : décembre 2015

Le Mur des représentations: Images emblématiques et inconfortables du passé québécois

Le mur des représentations

Nouvelle publication:

Létourneau, J., Cousson, C., Daignault, L. et Daigle, J.(2015). Le Mur des représentations: Images emblématiques et inconfortables du passé québécois. Histoire sociale/Social history, 48(97), 497-548.


Chaque société, nation ou pays est associé à un ensemble de représentations qui en incarnent apparemment l’essentiel. Plus ou moins justes ou factices, ces représentations fabriquées ont une incidence sur les consciences populaires et contribuent à la construction de l’identitaire des peuples. Quelles sont les images qui, au dire des « gens ordinaires », reflètent l’expérience québécoise dans le temps — ce qu’on pourrait aussi appeler la québécité — et quelles sont celles qui, selon les mêmes personnes, ne conviennent pas à cette québécité ou lui sont censément étrangères? Une enquête exploratoire à laquelle ont participé 427 personnes permet de discerner les représentations emblématiques et inconfortables de la québécité. On entre ici au cœur de la production populaire du sens, zone négligée de la recherche historienne contemporaine.


Every society, nation, or country is associated with a set of representations that appear to embody its essential elements. These fabricated representations, which are accurate to a greater or lesser degree, influence the popular consciousness and help build the shared identities of peoples. Which images reflect the Québécois experience—or “Québécité”—of “ordinary people” over time and which images, according to these same people, are unsuited or apparently foreign to Québécité? This exploratory survey involving 427 people identifies the emblematic and uncomfortable representations of Québécité and goes to the heart of the popular production of meaning, an area neglected by contemporary historical research.

Lire aussi:

Le Mur des représentations : associer des images au Québec

Young Québécois, National Narrative, and History Education

Annual UCL Quebec Lecture: Quebec: The Silent Revolution

Quebec Silent Revolution

MON, 14 DEC 2015 AT 18:30 

UCL-Institute of the Americas, Lecture Room 103, 51 Gordon Square, London, United Kingdom

In the 1960s Quebec witnessed the so-called Quiet Revolution – generally acknowledged as a period of spectacular transformation. In the 2000s there has been another revolution in Quebec – the Silent Revolution, a period of tranquil change that has nevertheless resulted in a transition from one era to another as profound as that ushered in by the Quiet Revolution.

In his talk, Jocelyn Létourneau will identify and conceptualise the very significant changes that Quebec is undergoing at the present time. In particular, he will argue that Quebec society is experiencing a deep-seated social debate that is producing a collective change in outlook. The three fundamental questions any society asks about itself – where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? – are being overtly raised in contemporary Quebec. And it appears that the answers proposed by those who are about to lead society are not the same as before.

Photos from Dec. 1 event

Is a Little Knowledge a Dangerous Thing? Young People, National Narratives and History Education

Professor Jocelyn Létourneau, Department of History, Laval University

Dr Arthur Chapman, UCL IoE

Anxieties about national identity and its strengthening and preservation are common in countries around the world, and it is, of course, entirely natural that this should be so in times of great change, challenge and uncertainty.

These anxieties can cause our discussions of history education to tend to the negative and to become counter-productive and even irrational. Public discussion tends, first, to base itself on impressionistic surveys – hardly fitting for matters of consequence. Second, it tends to focus on deficits – on what children do not know. Finding the same absence – repeatedly – is not a constructive act (we learn nothing new by doing it) and, more importantly, a focus on what is not present tells us nothing about what is in children’s heads. Understanding the ideas that children do have is crucial if we want to help them build historical knowledge and understanding and it is more important to know how children think about the past than it is to know which particular fact they do or do not know. Finally, as Sam Wineburg has shown, the habit of repeatedly finding that children know less than they used to has a long history – the obsessive repetition of claims about children’s ignorance of the past generation after generation is evidence of continuity more than change.

What happens if we try and find out what children do know and if we try to do so in a sustained manner and on a large scale?

In the last decade, scholars in a number of places around the world – including this Institute, Quebec, Canada, France, Switzerland (Geneva), Germany, Spain, Australia, and Belgium – have begun to undertake large-scale studies of what young people know about the past.[i] Rather than posing fastidious questions on specific historical issues (such as “Who was Horatio Nelson?”), which usually prove young people’s lack of knowledge, many of these studies invite students to tell what they know (“Tell me the story of your country, as you know  it, from the beginning to the present”). With no constraint on their answers other than an injunction to be serious in responding to the task, most students were able to propose some sort of narrative in the 45 minutes allotted for the task. These narratives often revealed that students had meaningful knowledge and representations about their nation and that they were not ‘empty pots’.

[i] For Swiss, Germany, France and Spain see the Lantheaume, F., and Létourneau J. (2016). Le récit du commun. L’histoire nationale racontée par les élèves. Approche comparative: France, Catalogne, Suisse, Allemagne, Lyon: Presses universitaires de Lyon. Belgian work is currently in process.

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