(IV) English Symposium: Heritage, Diversity, Futures
25786 (IV) OCdt Brennan Roche
As the academic year draws to a close, the time comes for fourth-year Honours students to present the cumulative work of their directed studies or an expanded essay to a group of their peers. On Friday, April 5th, Shona Couturier, Jackie Gignac, Michelle Hill, and Brennan Roche presented their work at the English Symposium held in Sawyer Theatre. The title of the Symposium, Heritage, Diversity, Futures, embraces the universal aspects that link the presentations of each of the four students and sums up the RMCC experience: Cadets come from their individual heritages and volunteer to join another; at RMCC, they experience change and grow; and with this growth they prepare themselves for their role as future leaders of the Canadian Forces.
OCdt Hill’s thesis, “Look in the Mirror”: The Relationship Between Identity Regulation and Military Strategy, deals directly with heritage, diversity, and futures, through her critical analysis of such works as Ender’s Game and All Quiet on the Western Front in the aim of challenging the, typically, separately held realms of individual identity and military culture as a function of indoctrination. Her conclusion is that militaries depend upon individuality because it is the quality that military formation cannot instill.
If heritage has a source, it is certainly the community from which values and norms stem, and if change, as a result of diversity, can be achieved in trying times, then it is certainly due to the power of love and comradeship. OCdt Couturier, in In Harry We Trust: The Creation of the Hero of Harry Potter through Love, Community, and Friendship, explores the relationship between success and communal support in a series that so greatly impressed and captivated her at a young age. While at RMCC, Cadets learn to support one another, to work as a team, in order to accomplish tasks that surpass the abilities of a single individual, and Shona’s engagement with the seven Harry Potter books seem to support the rationale behind such instruction.
As a Cadet, time seems to be a peculiar thing: there never seems to be enough of it, yet, at times it cannot pass fast enough. By the end of four years, it feels like is has flown by, and yet our time at RMC (for most students) represents the present entirety of our adult lives. It is therefore not surprising that two of the presenters chose to focus on time and its cultural representation through its presence in literature and art. NCdt Gignac presented her paper, “And all is always now”: The Eternal Moment in T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, where she explores the Indian spiritual understanding of time in one of Eliot’s great poems. Time, she argues, is both a “still-point” and “a dance,” and by focusing on these two central notions, Eliot is able to craft a poem where all time is eternal, now.
In a similar vein of thought, OCdt Roche examined the perceived notion of time as an extension of Western consciousness. By exploring the work of Owen Barfield, Brennan demonstrates the idolatrous nature of the modern Western consciousness and how an idol-filled consciousness limits the meaning of art. By analysing the controversial film The Tree of Life, he shows the reincarnation of meaning by means of a “participating consciousness,” a consciousness aware of the Divine imaginative power of the Judeo-Christian God.
All in all, the presenters did an exceptional job: their presentations were critical, unique, and yet accessible. Heritage, Diversity, Futures: English Undergraduate Symposium focused not only on the fascinating realm of literary criticism, but touched on greater notions of what it means to be a military member, a member of a community, and an individual passing through eternal time and space.
I would like to extend a special thanks to Dr. Laura Robinson for being the Master of Ceremonies, for providing the refreshments, and for facilitating the event.