Quiet Revolutions: Literature in Québec

What is Québécois literature? It’s a question with an ever-changing answer that stretches back nearly 500 years. Early travelogues, histories and verse were published in France for European readers; there was no printing press in Québec until it came under British control in the 1760s. From the conservative Ecole Patriotique, which rejected the ideas of post-revolutionary France; to the “quiet revolutionaries” of the 1960s and ’70s who pushed for a secular, independent Québec and challenged Anglophone influences; to an increasingly cosmopolitan group of writers urging for a more inclusive definition of Québécois identity, writers in Québec offer a rich portrait of the region and its people.

Our focus will be on modern and contemporary Québécois literature. We’ll look first at the influence of the Quiet Revolution, with its educational reforms, creation of a Ministry of Cultural Affairs, and founding of the magazine Parti pris (“Position Taken”) and francophone publishing houses. We’ll then turn to the present day. To what extent does the Quiet Revolution shape the current political, cultural and literary landscape in Québec, and how is Québecois identity defined today? We’ll also read Marie-Claire Blais’s masterpiece of rural Québec and enjoy Québécois noir with a novel by crime writer Louise Penny.

Relax from the day’s activities in truly distinctive accommodation. Le Monastère des Augustines is a former monastery run by the Augustinian sisters, who first arrived in New France in 1639 and founded the North American continent’s first hospital, or hôtel-dieu, on the St. Lawrence River. The cells and cloisters have been turned into bright, comfortable rooms and public spaces with a focus on relaxation and healing.

Québec City, UNESCO City of Literature, is a perfect place for a fall getaway. Explore a fascinating multicultural and multilingual literary heritage from one of North America’s most beautiful cities.

Please contact us at info@classicalpursuits.com for a detailed itinerary.


Aux Anciens Canadiens restaurant, situated in the former home of writer Philippe Aubert de Gaspé

Slideshow photo of Quebec at night: Wilfredor on Wikimedia Commons


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Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

September 26 – October 1, 2021

Michèle Lalonde’s “Speak White” and Marco Micone’s reply poem, “Speak What”
Excerpts from Le Cassé/Broke City
Selected 20th- and 21st-century poetry
A Season in the Life of Emmanuel by Marie-Claire Blais
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Selected recommended background reading

Melanie Blake is the director of Classical Pursuits and a former French-language tour guide. She studied literature and linguistics at the undergraduate and graduate level, and is a longtime lover of francophone cultures.

Le Monastère des Augustines

Group Size
12 to 16 participants

Approx. C$2595 + 15% HST
Single Supplement: Approx. C$300

Cost includes guides, readings, accommodation in double occupancy, two meals a day, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, admissions, and all taxes and gratuities.

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