by Natalie Debray, Communication
I was recently invited to participate in “The Faces of Quebec: Two Days of Music and Lectures,” co-sponsored by Canadian Studies and the Portland Center for Public Humanities at Portland State University (PSU). Always eager to share my passion for all things Quebec and all things media, I boarded an Amtrak train for the comfortable 3-hour ride and was pleasantly surprised to discover a dynamic Canadian Studies program in the heart of Portland.
My lecture, “Language, Media and Cultural Identity: A View from Quebec,” was held on the first day of the conference (November 15) at the ethereal Native American Student and Community Center near the epicenter of PSU’s urban campus. Flanked by floor to ceiling windows and a fine collection of Native American art, it was easy to find inspiration – and a captive audience. In the talk I provided an historical overview of the province in the context of Canadian history but also focused on issues salient to Quebec identity: notably language preservation and nation building, particularly the role the media play in both.
We packed a lot of information into 90 minutes and I would have loved to continue the conversation. One after another, members of the audience, a mixture of PSU students (including Assistant Professor Annabelle Dolidon’s French class), faculty, and members of the community at large, maintained the interactive tone of the presentation posing thoughtful and compelling questions ranging from the status of the sovereignty movement to the economic impact of Quebec’s strict language laws. It was exhilarating to be part of such an enthusiastic discussion.
Natalie Debray is a Lecturer with the Department of Communication at the University of Washington where she is currently teaching, COM 321/POLS 330 Communication and International Relations, including considerable content on media in Québec. Natalie is an affiliated faculty of the Center. She was a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow (French) in summers 2001 and 2001 and the 2001-02 academic year.
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