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Winners’ History: The Group of Seven, the National Gallery and Canada’s Global Affairs (forthcoming)

This study explores the history of Canada’s national art narrative in conversation with other art histories in circulation internationally over the course of the 20th century.

Focussing on representative exhibitions—by definition, state-sponsored shows—this book examines the role of national art histories in advancing hegemonic values, dominant narratives and “winners’ histories.” It grows out of recent research, and a growing body of literature devoted to museum representation and the role exhibitions play in reproducing cultural authority, whether of the artist, the state, the citizens it defines as such, or the museum itself. Providing detailed discussion over fourteen chapters, it deals with government-sponsored international exhibitions of Canadian art to probe the relationship between the extended state sphere of culture and the policy sphere of the state, which historically has been more explicitly directed to the advancement of liberalism and its economics. It opens a particularly rich avenue for research by exploring both the history of these exhibitions as sites of official nationalism, and the implications of their recent, increasingly legible participation in the denationalizing tendencies identified with globalizing dynamics, arguing in conclusion, that insofar as the nationalist art narrative is a means of imagining national subjectivity and territorial identification, it also functions as a strategic site for imaginaries around new subjectivities and geopolitical identities.