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Létourneau, Jocelyn, and Sabrina Moisan. “Young People’s Assimilation of a Collective Historical Memory: A Case Study of Quebeckers of French–Canadian Heritage.” In Theorizing Historical Consciousness, edited by Peter Seixas, 109-28. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.


This chapter is based on survey data collected from 403 Quebec high school, university, and CEGEP students between 1998 and 2001. Drawing from this material as well as from an analysis of the Quebec high school history curriculum requirements and how these requirements might influence teaching, the authors conclude that young Quebecers’ narration of Quebec history is “characterized by nostalgia and melancholia.” The dominant construction of Quebec’s history is positioned within three “narrative clusters”: “what unfortunately befell upon a community,” “what that community might have become if only,” and “what that community might yet be if only.”

Létourneau and Moisan maintain that such is the case because, even though history textbooks often contain material that presents Quebec in a positive light, most textbooks construct Quebec history within a “victimization-based narrative.” Further, this narrative is reproduced by teachers because they do not have a solid base from which to teach a counter narrative. As such they suggest that because teachers are given an “all-knowing” status by students, and because dominant social discourse seems to corroborate the victimization-based narrative proposed in history textbooks, teachers need to focus their teaching on helping students deconstruct historical narratives and evaluate and interpret dominant constructions of Quebec’s history.

Ana Laura Pauchulo