|Born||August 24, 1947|
|Education||PhD., 1975, University of Toronto|
|Thesis||Narcissistic narrative: the paradoxical status of self-conscious fiction (1975)|
|Institutions||University of Toronto|
|Notable students||Susan Bennett|
Linda Hutcheon, FRSC, O.C. (born August 24, 1947) is a Canadian academic working in the fields of literary theory and criticism, opera, and Canadian studies. She is a University Professor Emeritus in the Department of English and of the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, where she has taught since 1988. In 2000 she was elected the 117th President of the Modern Language Association, the third Canadian to hold this position, and the first Canadian woman. She is particularly known for her influential theories of postmodernism.
Hutcheon's publications reflect an interest in aesthetic micro-practices such as irony in Irony's Edge (Routledge, 1994), parody in A Theory of Parody (Meuthen, 1985), and adaptation in A Theory of Adaptation (Routledge, 2006). Hutcheon has also authored texts which synthesize and contextualize these practices with regard to broader debates about postmodernism, such as The Politics of Postmodernism (Routledge, 1989), A Poetics of Postmodernism (Routledge, 1988), and Rethinking Literary History (OUP, 2002). She also edited influential text on post-modernity, chief among them being A Postmodern Reader (SUNY, 1993), co-edited with Joseph P. Natoli.
Hutcheon's version of postmodernism is often contrasted with that of Fredric Jameson in North America: while the latter laments the lack of critical capacities to which postmodern subjects have access, and analyses present capitalist cultural production in terms of a dehistoricized spatial pastiche, Hutcheon highlights the ways in which postmodern modalities actually aid in the process of critique.
Specifically, Hutcheon suggests that postmodernism works through parody to "both legitimize and subvert that which it parodies" (Politics, 101). "Through a double process of installing and ironizing, parody signals how present representations come from past ones and what ideological consequences derive from both continuity and difference" (Politics, 93). Thus, far from dehistoricizing the present or organizing history into an incoherent and detached pastiche, postmodernism can rethink history and shed light on new critical capacities.
Hutcheon coined the term historiographic metafiction to describe those literary texts that assert an interpretation of the past but are also intensely self-reflexive (i.e. critical of their own version of the truth as being partial, biased, incomplete, etc.) (Poetics, 122-123). Historiographic metafiction, therefore, allows us to speak constructively about the past in a way that acknowledges the falsity and violence of the "objective" historian's past without leaving us in a totally bewildered and isolated present (as Jameson has it).
Many of Hutcheon's writings on postmodernism are reflected in a series of books she has written and edited on Canada. The Canadian Postmodern is a discussion of postmodern textual practices used by Canadian authors of the late twentieth century such as Margaret Atwood and Robert Kroetsch. More than the other forms she discusses, Hutcheon sees irony as particularly significant to Canadian identity.
Hutcheon argues irony is a "...semantically complex process of relating, differentiating, and combining said and unsaid meanings - and doing so with an evaluative edge" that is enabled by membership in what she describes as "discursive communities". It is through membership in a shared discursive community that the listener is able to recognize that a speaker might be attempting offer an unsaid evaluation. She argues that Canadians lack of a clear nationalist metanarrative and international influences such as history as a British colony, proximity to the United States of America, and immigration, are disposed to seeing their identities as ironic - caught up in multiple discursive communities. For Hutcheon's work on ethnic minority writing see Other Solitudes: Canadian Multicultural Fiction. Eds. Linda Hutcheon and Marion Richmond. (Oxford U.P. 1990).
Since the mid-1990s, Linda Hutcheon has published a number of books on opera with her husband Michael Hutcheon. These works often reflect her interests as a literary critic combined with his interests as a practicing physician and medical researcher.