Dr. Tony Tremblay aims to change perception of New Brunswick with latest research project

Dr. Tony Tremblay hopes his latest research project will impact how New Brunswickers see themselves and how the province is perceived by Canadians.


The project, which has been funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant, will analyze why New Brunswick has been characterized as being “backward” in public narratives.


“Stories and myths are a society’s real currency. Story determines how we perceive ourselves and our place in the world, so studying the stories we tell and the stories told about us are key to understanding both our identities and our roles in larger social configurations like Canada,” Tremblay said.


In his work, Tremblay plans to formulate a language-focused research apparatus to both analyze these narratives of backwardness and consider the objectives and effects of advancing backwardness as a dominant provincial narrative.


“I am studying backwardness as part of a larger national discourse: where backwardness narratives are sourced, how they’re manifest, whose interest they serve, and what their effects are inside and outside of the province,” Tremblay said.


“The knowledge this study will amass is key to New Brunswick’s emergence from the expectations of failure that persistent stories of chronic underachievement assign. Canadians, I hope, will come to understand New Brunswick’s place in a national story that is calibrated for particular social and economic outcomes.”


This project builds off Tremblay’s recent research, including his New Brunswick literature curriculum and his book New Brunswick at the Crossroads: Literary Ferment and Social Change in the East. Importantly, he emphasizes, the funding from SSHRC will allow him to employ students.


“Since 2007, I employed and trained 25 graduate and undergraduate students in humanities computing, digital publishing, archival research, textual scholarship, instructional design, conference organization, and manuscript preparation,” he said.


“This project will be no different. I have already hired two doctoral students to help me begin my inquiries, and I will be hiring two more undergraduate students in the months ahead.”