Maymester in Montréal

mtlMaymester in Montréal

Professor Robert Barsky
Office: Furman Hall 227, Department of French and Italian

This course will allow students to become immersed in the vibrant life of one of America’s oldest cities, a veritable turnstile of Quebecois, Canadian, and European peoples and institutions. We will begin with an introduction to key issues in Canadian legal policies relating to migration and resettlement, and with an overview of fiction written in Quebec by recently-immigrated authors. Emphasis will be placed upon the fiction of Quebec’s most prominent and historical communities, and upon fiction by members of recently-arrived immigrant communities.

We will begin our work on campus, consulting seminal texts, discussing important films, and reviewing the social and political context of both Québec and Canada. With texts in hand, for continued consultation, Professor Barsky will in the third week bring students to live for two weeks in downtown Montreal, where they will be introduced to a unique bilingual multicultural setting. We will begin with tours of “Jewish Montreal”, from “The Main” to the main synagogues, and we will visit some of the remarkable archives of Jewish materials at McGill and at the Saidye Bronfman Center. This will be complemented to visits to the key Catholic institutions in the city, including the St. Joseph’s Oratory, the Notre Dame Church, and key historical sites in “Old Montreal.”

Students will also have a unique opportunity to hear talks by community organizers, artists, musicians and  faculty with the McGill University Law School, the Institut national de la recherche scientifique, UQAM, Concordia University, and Université de Montréal. We will also visit the refugee determination board and Federal Court in order to witness Quebec and Canadian migration and refugee institutions in action. They will also meet with people in the government, and in NGOs, who are involved in the process of admitting and integrating new immigrants and refugees, as well as authors who have written about their experiences of migration to this, the second largest francophone city in the world.

Students will further enhance their understanding of Quebec and Canadian society through visits to the cities many museums, cultural centers, sports venues (including the Olympic site and the hockey arenas, notably the Montreal Forum) and monuments, allowing them to have a privileged look at a city which once dominated the entire Eastern seaboard of North America all the way down to Louisiana. No knowledge of French is required, but people interested in learning the language will have the possibility of hearing and speaking French at the many activities planned for Montreal; furthermore, for students who do all the readings and written work in French it will count as an elective for the major or minor in French. By the end of the course, students will have been immersed in activities which will contribute to their understanding of francophone culture, international law, multiculturalism, ethnic studies, and the Other America.

Course material: Government documents on multiculturalism and immigration policy; primary texts relating to immigration law in Canada; several novels, poems and plays by Quebec authors; historical texts.

Course requirements: Keep a journal of activities and thoughts about what is seen and learned about Montreal prior to and during the trip. One oral presentation based upon the journal. One final assignment (topic to be discussed). All texts for this course will be provided by the instructor, or will be available on-line.
Films (screenings of partial or whole films for discussion, in class or afterwards):

Dany Laferrière, Comment faire l’amour avec un nègre sans se fatiguer (text and film with English subtitles).
Jesus of Montreal (film).
Michèle Lalonde, « Speak White » (poem and film).
Denys Arcand, “The Decline of the American Empire” (film)
Pierre Falardeau, “Elvis Gratton” (film)
— “Octobre” (film)
Jacques Payette, “The Rocket” (film)

Timetable: Vanderbilt!

Thursday May 11th: 2:00-4:00.

Monday May 15th: 1:00-3:00
Subject: French-English Relations
Texts: History of Quebec timeline
in English:;
in French:
Poetry: “Speak White”
Film: excerpts from “Jesus of Montreal”

Specific subjects to follow up on today’s discussion:
Furs and trapping:, on the history of the Hudson Bay Corporation.
Native Americans on the history of Native Americans
Canadian History

Tuesday May 16th: 1-3
International Law and Multicultural Montreal
Texts: Africans in Quebec and Canada,
Text: Canada, Government Publications. House of Commons. An Act for the Preservation and Enhancement of Multiculturalism in Canada.
Film and Text: Dany Laferrière, Comment faire l’amour avec un nègre sans se fatiguer (text and film with English subtitles).
Text: Immigration and Refugee Act, online at:
International Law in Montreal

Film: “Octobre” and “Speak White”. Text: “Speak White”
Text: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

Wednesday May 17th: 1-3
Immigrant Montreal

Text: Zachary Baker, “Montreal of Yesterday” A Snapshot of Jewish Life in Montreal During the Era of Mass Immigration.” An Everyday Miracle: Yiddish Culture in Montreal, ed. Robinson, Ira, Pierre Anctil and Mervin Butovsky. Montreal, Canada: Véhicule Press, 1990, 39-52.
Film and text: “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz”.

Roman Catholicism and Montreal
Text: Elaine Kalman Naves, “Keeping the Flame Alight: Montreal As Home to Two Literary Starts,” Putting Down Roots: Montreal’s Immigrant Writers (Montreal: Vehicule Press, 1998), 50-71.

Thursday May 18th: 1-3
Revolutionary Montreal
The October revolution, the Quiet Revolution, the FLQ and the PQ
Film: October

Friday May 19th: 1-3
Hockey in Montreal and in Tennessee
Elvis in Tennessee and in Montreal
films: “Elvis Gratton” and “The Rocket”
Residence Inn Montreal Westmount >> 2170 Lincoln Ave.Montreal, H3H 2N5Canada; Phone: 1-514-935-9224; Fax: 1-514-935-5049


In order to completely immerse students in Quebec culture, we will attend (roughly) 2 plays, 2 dance spectacles, two theatre productions, 2-4 films and several (outdoor and indoor) cultural events, in addition to the central “sites” such as the Olympic Stadium, the Botanical Gardens, the museums, the old port, and so forth.

There’s a good website with history and links at:

Monday, May 22nd, arrival in Montreal, supper in the old port

Tuesday, May 23rd: 
Old Montréal!
Morning: Tour of Old Montreal and Visit to Notre Dame Basilica.Notre-Dame’s twin towers have served as an Old Montreal landmark since the neo-Gothic basilica was finished in 1829. Today they continue to be the focal point, where tourists disgorge from buses and calèche drivers line up for passengers. The interior glows with gilded statuary and gold-leafed fleurs de lys, and is home to one of the largest pipe organs in the world. The Montreal Symphony Orchestra performs its Christmas production of Messiah here.

Late morning: visit to the Point au Callière Museum of archaeology:

Montréal, Tales of a City…
Multimedia showA breathtaking trip through time. The history of Montréal unfolds before your eyes in this unique theatre overlooking the architectural and archaeological remains, all in the space of 18 minutes.
Where Montréal Was Born

Where Montréal Was Born introduces visitors to the history and archaeology of the site. They’ll see the first Catholic cemetery, the canalized river that became the William collector sewer and the town’s first public square. These three sites, keystones in our city’s growth, are all part of the Museum.

More details

Montréal Love Stories – The Cultural Connection

Living in Montréal, the largest Francophone city in the Americas, means rubbing shoulders with a host of interlaced cultures, savouring tastes from around the world, hearing the music of different tongues and taking your bearings from a multitude of church steeples. It means sharing a corner of the Earth where it seems that all of humanity has decided to come together.

More details

On the Spot Improv

Comedyworks, 1238 Bishop, Mtl
Info. (514) 398-9661; Category : Improv – English Comedy

Wednesday, May 24th

From the Art Association of Montreal to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
In 1860, Montreal was the largest city in British North America and the undisputed economic centre of Canada. Yet, although its artistic traditions dated back to the period of French rule, the city had no art school or museum. The aim of the Art Association of Montreal, as defined by its founding president Bishop Francis Fulford in 1860, was to fill these gaps by organizing exhibitions, establishing a library and offering art and design classes.

1879-1912: The Gallery on Phillips Square
The Art Association made a sudden leap forward thanks to a Montrealer named Benaiah Gibb. In 1877, Gibb bequeathed a tract of land and a sum of money to build a museum. His bequest also included paintings, the nucleus of a collection that would become one of the largest in the country. Inaugurated in 1879, the new gallery, which is no longer standing, was the first building in Canada specifically designed to house an art collection. It included an exhibition gallery, a smaller gallery for works on paper, a reading room and rudimentary accommodations for an art school. The original building was the work of architect J. W. Hopkins. In 1893, it was enlarged by Andrew T. Taylor. The Art Association held annual exhibitions of works lent by members and Spring Exhibitions of works by living Canadian artists. About 1900, Montreal became one of the most active centres of art collecting in North America. Although the early collectors’ tastes were fairly conservative, some, like Sir George Drummond and Sir William Van Horne, were among the early purchasers of Impressionist canvases on this side of the Atlantic.

The Gallery on Sherbrooke Street
The growth of the collection made it necessary to build again. This time, the council chose to move to Sherbrooke Street. The new museum, designed by architects Edward and William S. Maxwell, was sober and imposing with its white marble façade, tall colonnaded portico and monumental staircase. The exhibition galleries were spacious, and there were a lecture hall, a library and studios for the art school as well. The museum was inaugurated in December 1912, and the following year, it received fifty thousand visitors. However, development was slowed by World War I and the economic decline of Montreal that ensued. This also spelled the end for the golden age of private collections. Some were dispersed; others were donated to the Museum, in whole or in part, by their inheritors.

1912-1939: The Collection Grows
The Art Association Council entrusted F. Cleveland Morgan with the responsibility of supervising the decorative art section it wished to include in the collection. An enlightened connoisseur, Morgan assumed the task of volunteer curator from 1917 until his death in 1962. He adopted a system of classifying objects by medium and technique, patterned after the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Under Morgan’s guidance, the collection became an unrestricted panorama, encompassing artworks from all continents and all periods. In 1939, through the generosity of the Norton family, a wing designed by the firm of Fetherstonhaught & Durford was added at the back of the building.

1939-1976: Years of Change
The Museum’s expansion coincided with the institution of new programmes for children and the general public. Under Arthur Lismer, a famous artist and an enlightened pedagogue, the art school, in conjunction with the Art Centre, became a model of its kind. At about the same time, a new generation of “revolutionary” artists appeared, rallying around John Lyman and Paul-Émile Borduas. The confrontations between academics and moderns escalated to the point where, in 1944, the Spring Exhibition had to resort to two separate juries. From 1949 on, a new gallery – Gallery XII – was devoted entirely to young artists. The appointment of a first director in 1947 was in keeping with the changes the institution was undergoing. The Art Association was renamed the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and soon after, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal was added as an official designation. In 1960, the publication of a catalogue of selected works and a guide to the collection marked the Art Association’s hundredth anniversary. The Museum had a season of ambitious and highly successful exhibitions, including Auguste Rodin, Tutankhamun Treasures and Picasso and Man. Annual attendance exceeded three hundred thousand. The Museum had long been financed entirely by private funds. During the 1950s, the City of Montreal and the Canada Council began giving grants. In the following decade, the Museum received annually increasing financial support from the Government of Quebec, through the Ministry of Culture and Communications. Subsequently, Canada adopted a national museum policy (1972), establishing subsidies, accreditation programmes and aid for professional training. In order to be eligible, the Museum became a semipublic corporation. Part of the money needed for expansion was obtained in this way; the rest came in the form of substantial donations, notably from an anonymous benefactor and the Maxwell Cummings family. From 1973 to 1976, while an addition designed by architect Fred Lebensold was under construction, the Museum remained closed to the public, but in the hiatus, it began circulating travelling exhibitions throughout the country.

1976-2000: The Museum’s Growth Continues
In 1977, a new guide to the collections was published. The same year, as a consequence of a restructuring of the Quebec educational system, the School of Art and Design permanently closed its doors. The Museum’s internal operations were professionalized with the adoption of an orientation plan and policies on acquisition, programming and general development. In 1981, the exhibition Tintin’s Imaginary Museum drew an audience previously unaware of the Museum’s existence. A William Bouguereau exhibition was organized in co-operation with the Petit Palais in Paris in 1984, a first step towards attaining an international reputation. A number of others followed in its wake: Leonardo da Vinci, Engineer and Architect (1987), The 1920s: Age of the Metropolis (1991) and Lost Paradise: Symbolist Europe (1995). The Museum also mounted major retrospectives of Canadian artists: James Wilson Morrice (1986), Paul-Émile Borduas (1988), Jean-Paul Riopelle (1991) and Ozias Leduc (1995). In 1991, with the support of the governments, the business community and many private benefactors, among them the Desmarais, a new building, designed by architect Moshe Safdie, was completed. Linked to the 1912 and 1976 buildings by a series of underground galleries, the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion doubled the exhibition space, allowing a full reinstallation of the collections on either side of Sherbrooke Street.

2000: The Museum in the New Millennium
A number of large-scale exhibitions organized by the Museum circulated abroad: Cosmos: From Romanticism to the Avant-garde (1999) travelled to Barcelona and Venice; Triumphs of the Baroque (2000) to Venice, Washington and Marseilles; Hitchcock and Art (2001) to Paris; and Picasso Érotique (2001) to Paris and Barcelona. The new millennium was marked by two major events: the merger of the Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts, founded by David M. and Liliane Stewart, and the fruitful fund-raising campaign that enabled the Museum to considerably increase its acquisition fund and, through the creation of an exhibition fund, pursue its ambitious international programming. Montreal may have changed, but the spirit that moved the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ founders in 1860 has never faltered, nor has the steadfast support of its members and benefactors.

Wednesday afternoon
Architecture Museum:

    The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) was founded in 1979 as a new form of cultural institution to build public awareness of the role of architecture in society, promote scholarly research in the field, and stimulate innovation in design practice.

The CCA is an international research centre and museum founded on the conviction that architecture is a public concern. Based on its extensive collections, the CCA is a leading voice in advancing knowledge, promoting public understanding, and widening thought and debate on the art of architecture, its history, theory, practice, and role in society today.

Over 30 years ago, architect Phyllis Lambert began the collection that would become the cornerstone of the CCA. In addition to being founding director of the institution, Phyllis Lambert is Chair of its Board of Trustees.


Today the CCA Collection, comprising works dating from the Renaissance to the present day, documents the culture of architecture throughout the world – past, present, and future. It provides evidence in depth of cultural and intellectual circles of the past, points to the future of architectural thinking and practice, and reveals the changing character of thought and observation pertaining to architecture. Unparalleled in scope, the Prints & Drawings, Photographs, Archives, and Library comprise of dynamically interrelated bodies of primary and secondary materials that advance thinking about the nature of the built domain and the ideas that underlie it.

Exhibitions and Public and Educational Programs forge links between architectural thinking and practice, the history of ideas, and changing social and cultural conditions. Programs are both local and international in scope. They interpret architectural ideas to the wider public at all age-levels as well as to architects and scholars, aiming to reveal the richness of architectural and urban culture and to stimulate dynamic engagement with contemporary issues and debates. The CCA Bookstore specializes in the literature of architecture and an extensive range of interrelated topics, offering a selection of publications from around the world.


Sense of the City
Main Galleries, until 10 September 2006
Asphalt, cacophonies of everyday sounds and smells, competing light effects, manipulations of temperature and climate, the junk and graffiti that disfigure buildings and streets, and the subtle, mostly hidden signs of regeneration in the urban environment. The exhibition offers an analysis of these phenomena and proposes a new “sensorial” approach to urbanism.

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Ecological Landscapes
Octagonal Gallery, until 30 July 2006
Featuring material from the newly completed Oberlander Archive at the CCA, as well as photographs taken by the young German photographer Etta Gerdes in 2005, this exhibition demonstrates landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander’s pioneering vision of socially conscious and environmentally sustainable landscape design.

Hear, Smell, and Touch the City
Sottsass Room, 17 May to 5 June 2006
Exhibition of works created in a new program for elementary schools inspired by Sense of the City. Students present their sensory experiments and impressions of Montréal in drawings, models, and tactile maps.
8PM Théâtre Extrème, written by Jean-Guy Legault, featuring Mariflore Véronneau
5030 rue St. Denis

Thursday, May 25th
1. Theatre presentation
Théâtre de l’Abysse; featuring presentations of Robert Barsky and Sophie Dorais.
On account of her devotion to the life of her brother and that of her neighbor, a young woman sets out a plan to sell bodily organs. The earnings will be shared, but it’s the neighbor who will have to be sacrifced. At the heart of the work is a dynamic monologue covering 24 hours in the life of this woman. She wants to save her brother, to give meaning to the life of the immigrant neighbor who is threatened with deportation, while at the same time providing an answer to someone awaiting organ donation. Through this story of immigration and the traffic of organs, it’s ultimately the turmoil of the woman that is layed bare; howw does she choose between her brother and this neighbor to whom she is attracted?  How can she commit to one without being a traitor to the other? How is it possible to love life while preparing for death?

Friday, May 26th
 Tour of McGill University. With Mount Royal as a backdrop, McGill’s main campus is set in the heart of downtown Montreal, one of the most exciting cities in North America, with three million residents and four universities. Its mix of cultures and languages makes it a dynamic place: museums, restaurants, skyscrapers, nightclubs and beautiful public parks make Montreal a great city in which to live. The campus is a mosaic of historic and modern buildings. Thanks to bequests over the years from generous donors, the downtown campus is an oasis of green and beauty in the centre of a safe, sophisticated and uniquely bilingual city. A short drive west of downtown, McGill’s Macdonald Campus sits on the shores of Lac St-Louis. This mix of academic buildings, research laboratories and student and staff housing is home to the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. In 1813, James McGill, a Scottish immigrant who prospered in Montreal, bequeathed his 46-acre estate and 10,000 pounds to “the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning.” McGill College (now McGill University) was inaugurated in 1829 in Burnside Place, James McGill’s country home. In 1843, the University constructed its first buildings, the central and east wings of the Arts Building. The first women students were admitted in 1884.

Friday evening, May 27, 2006
Soirée Mats Ek Dance production
Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, 175 Ste-Catherine W., Mtl; Info. (514) 842-2112

Art haïda – Les voix d’une langue ancienne; Musée McCord of McGill University, 690 Sherbrooke St. W., Mtl, Info. (514) 398-7100
Category : Museum – History

Saturday, May 27th



French Canadians invaded the West Coast of the U.S. in a cast of man and equine artists in a theatrical production called Calvalia.
“Cavalia is an invented word for an invented concept,” explained Martin Roy, Cavalia publicist. “Of course, there’s the root ‘caval’, that brings ‘cheval’ (horse in French), ‘cavalcade’, ‘cavalry.’ It’s just a good-sounding word.” Cavalia is a display of human artists playing and performing with their equine companions that is nothing short of amazing and will easily take your breath away. There are 36 horses that perform and most perform unbridled and unrestrained, playing as if they are in a game with their human cast members. The show is a display of horsemanship in the purest form.
Dreamy white Lusitano stallions run at full gallop around the 150-foot wide stage while the performers guide them gently by gesture and persuasion. This training is based “on a relationship of trust rather than dominance”, according to Andre Dallaire. Not only do they work with these beautiful horses but they also work with quarter horses that have no prior experience in show business. Equine artists also include, a few performers from draft breeds such as Percherons and Belgians. The white Lusitano is one of the most ancient breeds of horses and most pure. Originally from the Iberian Peninsula, modern day Portugal and Spain, they are easily trained and excel in dressage, jumping, driving, and as pleasure mounts. They are also the stars of the show. Normand Latourelle, president and artistic director of Cavalia stated jokingly, “The horses all speak French, not English, so ask your questions in French.”


Show Biography – Cavalia
Audiences feel the deep relationship and mutual love between man and beast most when performer Frederic Pignon chases and gets chased by two of his stallions Templado and Aetes. It’s not all horses though, it also includes acrobats, contortionists, aerialists, live musicians and singers, and dreamy scenery projected on the back curtain. Special effects include a rainfall and leaves that actually drop onto audience members.
The audience from the Seattle area was very attentive. There was constant applause for the spectacular stunts. Sometimes even a horse can become a bit of a ham and the fans love that. Cavalia is proof that a gentle bond between man and animal can be created, and all with a spirit of fun and joy. “I thought it was pretty cool,” said 18-year-old Brian Redd from Spokane, Washington. “I liked the horses galloping back and forth, the trick riding, people hanging off the side of the saddle.” His friend Zack Bryant also agreed. He stated, “The trick riding spiced it off like Beethoven’s music, how it’s all silent, and then it goes really loud it picked up the pace of the show.”
Because of sell-out attendances and the need for extending dates, the tour doesn’t have a hard schedule, however they plan to tour the U.S. for three years. They had so much success on the West Coast, they will first return to the San Francisco area, then back to Los Angeles and visit Dan Diego before embarking on an Eastern tour of the States in 2005. Cavalia is scheduled to close late in 2006 back in Canada in Montreal, Quebec where it all began.

Ballet Divertimento
May 27 at 7:30pm and May 28, 2006 at 3pm
1200 Bleury St, Mtl; Info. (514) 861-4036; Category : Dance – Ballet

Sunday, May 28th
Botanical Gardens
Patro Le Prévost
7355 Christophe-Colomb Blvd, Mtl; Info. (514) 273-8535
From : Khadija Jabiry With : Tywalline, El Sayed

Sunday, May 28, 2006 at 5pm
Envol pour l’Égypte dance production

Monday, May 29th

May 30th

May 31st Return to Nashville BNA