Tag Archives: collective memory

Introductions : Measuring History / Quantifier l’histoire

Visiting Doctoral Program Report

By David Scott, University of Calgary, PhD, student, Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Doctoral Fellow

As part of the Then/Hier Education Network visiting doctoral program, over the last two weeks I have been fortunate to study in Québec City with Jocelyn Létourneau, who is a holder of a Canada Research Chair in Contemporary Political History and Economy Laval Université. Dr. Létourneau’s work examining the ways Canadians interact with the past and how this influences their identity formations has long interested me. Inspired by Dr. Létourneau’s (2004, 2007) work exploring the ways young Québécois story a national past, in my doctoral research I plan to undertake a parallel study examining how adolescents in Western Canada tell the story of Canada. Specifically, I am interested in the extent to which the narrative structure underpinning their recounting of the historical experience of Canada is collectively held, and the ways particular narratives shape their historical consciousness in terms of how they see the past, understand the present, and anticipate the future.

In undertaking this research, I had several goals in coming to study at Laval.

  • Would this study offer a relevant addition to the literature and would it in fact, as I was assuming, be the first of its kind in English Canada?
  • How did Dr. Létourneau and his research team go about collecting and coding their data set and what particular methodological approaches did they use in their studies?
  • To what extent have scholars theorized the pedagogical implications of various memory studies that have occurred in Quebec and elsewhere (see, for example, VanSledright (2008) in the US and Wertsch (2004) in Russia)?
  • Finally, I came here to meet with other scholars in Quebec whose research parallels mine in order to explore opportunities for collaboration and ongoing dialogue.

Thanks to the warm welcome and ongoing mentorship of Dr. Létourneau during my stay here, along with the continued conversations I have had with other graduate students here, I have gained great insights into my research concerns. In the first instance, it seems that similar research on Anglophone understandings of the past has been documented, but only here in Quebec. However, I was to learn that Dr. Stéphane Levesque at the University of Ottawa plans to undertake a similar study in English Canada. Through a Skype meeting with him, we are discussing possibilities for ways I could help him realize our mutual research interests.

In terms of my methodological concerns, through meeting with Dr. Létourneau and his research assistants Jean-Francois Conroy and Raphaël Gani, I was given access to their corpus of work and sat in on several sessions where they explained the data gathering and coding process. In this regard ongoing conversations and insights from Raphaël have been a tremendous source of support in helping me both better appreciate issues of methodology as well as the scholarly terrain of emerging work in the field.

In relation to how emerging studies in memory studies might inform newcurricular and pedagogical possibilities for history education, it seems that this is a fairly open field for inquiry. Here, I speak of further pushing forward an approach to history education that drawing on Létourneau’s (2004, 2007) work, moves way from seeing students as empty vessels deficient in knowledge and skills, but rather makes the narrative structures that inhabit students’ vision of the past a central object of historical inquiry. Within this frame teachers would enter students’ basic matrixes of understanding, first pointing out limitations and then proposing different narrative referents for storying a national past that might offer new pathways of thinking to emerge. This will no doubt raise debates in the field, as teaching history through narrative has long been out of favour with scholars in both the disciplinary and critical post-modern paradigms. However, I continue to believe that narrative is central to how all people make sense of history, and by ignoring how young people story the past and further failing to offer new narrative possibilities, we are failing to engage their primary engine of historical consciousness that informs how they orientate themselves in the world. This to me provides an important area for further theorizing.

In the coming months I look forward to continuing the conversations begun here and collaborating on future research with people I have met during my sojourn in Quebec.

I would like to thank Dr. Létourneau and the graduate students here along with Then/Hier Education Network in providing me with this opportunity to study here.


Létourneau, J. (2004). Young people’s assimilation of a collective historical memory: A case study of Quebeckers of French-Canadian heritage. In P.Seixas, (Ed.), Theorizing historical consciousness (pp. 109-128). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

Létourneau, J. (2007). Remembering our past: An examination of the historical memory of young Québécois. In R. M. Sandwell (Ed.), To the past: History education, public memory and citizenship in Canada (pp. 70-87). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

VanSledright, B. (2008). Narratives of nation-state, historical knowledge, and school history education.Review of Research in Education, 32 (1), 109-146.

Wertstch, J. (2004). Specific narratives and schematic narrative templates.In P.Seixas, (Eds.), Theorizing historical consciousness (pp. 49-62). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

La conscience historique : deux enquêtes

Voici les résultats de deux enquêtes au sujet de la conscience historique, parus sous la forme de courts articles dans l’édition du printemps 2012 de la revue Canadian Issues/Thèmes canadiens.

Raphaël Gani, « L’histoire nationale dans ses grandes lignes », Canadian Issues/Thèmes canadiens, printemps 2012.

Comment les gens ordinaires résument-ils leur histoire nationale en quelques phrases ? Ce texte propose des pistes de réponse à cette question. Nous avons effectué une première analyse des résultats d’une enquête menée auprès de 5 425 adultes dans six pays d’Europe et d’Amérique – la France, l’Écosse, le Pays de Galles, l’Angleterre, les États-Unis et le Canada. À travers ces six pays, deux trames historiales se dégagent et recueillent un nombre similaire d’adhérents. La majorité des gens sondés par l’enquête résument leur histoire nationale par la trame de l’adversité et du déclin ou par celle de la réussite et du progrès.

Stéphane Lévesque, Jocelyn Létourneau et Raphaël Gani, « Québec Student’s Historical Consciousness of the Nation », Canadian Issues/Thèmes canadiens, printemps 2012.

This article explores some French Canadian (Québec) students’ historical consciousness of the nation through the lens of Social Identity Theory (SIT). Informed by SIT principles, our narrative analysis shows how most Franco-Québécois categorize the past in homogenous categories (e.g., the imperialist Anglophone; the surviving Francophone) and frame their stories into particular modes of present-day orientations. Implications of this study for history education are also discussed.

À l’émission Ideas de la CBC, une série de quatre épisodes sur la pensée de Jocelyn Létourneau

A journey into the subtle and provocative ideas of historian Jocelyn Létourneau. As a leader of a new wave of Quebec intellectuals, he rejects melancholic myths that portray Quebeckers as victims of their past, trapped by unfulfilled political dreams. His ideas on the resilience of Quebeckers and the complexity of their history breathe new life into old debates about Quebec’s identity, distinctiveness and destiny. In this new series, Jocelyn Létourneau talks with IDEAS producer Sara Wolch about his vision of the past, the implications of his thinking for students of history, and his hopes for the future of Quebec and Canada.

Les épisodes, diffusés en 2007.

Jocelyn Létourneau – 1759 and the future of memory in Quebec

Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by the Faculty of Education. In the summer of 2009, the battle of the Plains of Abraham was fought one more time in Quebec. The debate that stormed over the commemoration of the event proved that it is not easy to negotiate the meaning of this founding moment of Quebec’s destiny. Yet, it has been 250 years since « the English burned our farms and bombed our city ». What is to be done today with the Conquest, its history and memory?

Comment les élèves du primaire ont construit l’histoire de la Catalogne ?

Par l’entremise d’un questionnaire, Jocelyn Létourneau invite depuis plusieurs années des jeunes Québécois à raconter l’histoire du Québec. Ce projet a inspiré plusieurs chercheurs, dont certains de l’Université Autonome de Catalogne. Ceux-ci ont invité de jeunes Catalans à raconter l’histoire de leur nation. Voici le résumé d’une présentation orale au sujet de ce projet mené en Catalogne. Cette présentation a fait partie de la 1re conférence de l’Association Internationale de Recherche en Didactique de l’Histoire, tenue à Rome entre le 3 et le 5 septembre 2012 et qui avait pour thème Histoire et sciences sociales enseignées : réalisations et perspectives.

Comment les élèves du primaire ont construit l’histoire de la Catalogne?


La recherche réalisée par l’équipe GREDICS (UAB) fait partie du projet « La fabrication du commun ‐ Récits de l’histoire nationale par les élèves » coordonnée par la professeure Françoise Lantheaume de l’Equipe d’Accueil Education, Cultures, Politiques n° 4571 (ECP) de l’Université de Lyon (France).

L’analyse de l’enseignement et de l’apprentissage de l’histoire nationale n’est pas nouveau. Peut‐être, la nouveauté de notre recherche réside dans le fait qu’elle se centre sur l’histoire de la Catalogne, une nation sans État propre, mais avec une histoire et une langue propre. Le programme d’histoire de la Catalogne a beaucoup d’aspects communs avec le programme d’histoire de l’España (45% de contenus minimums obligatoires pour toute l’España), parce que la Catalogne est une région autonome avec maintes compétences gouvernementales, entre autres éducatives.

Le questionnaire « Que sais‐tu de l’histoire de la Catalogne, et comment l’as‐tu appris? » a été passé par quelques élèves de quatre lycées, trois publics et un privé, pendant le mois de Juin 2011, peu avant la fin de l’année scolaire. La finalité était de découvrir ce que ces élèves savent de l’histoire de la Catalogne en général, de quels personnages et faits ils se rappellent en particulier et comment ils construisent des récits.

Le questionnaire a été passé par tous les cours d’enseignement secondaire obligatoire (12‐16 ans). L’échantillon analysé a été concentré sur trois établissements: Escola Pia de Caldes de Montbui; Institut Banús de Cerdanyola del Vallès; et Institut Vilanova de Vilanova del Camí.

Dans la communication finale, on présentera les principales caractéristiques des établissements et des étudiants (par exemple, la langue utilisée pour s’exprimer et la définition de leur identité « je suis…»). Il sera aussi question de l’analyse des données et des résultats obtenus à propos des principaux personnages et évènements historiques choisis par les élèves. Et surtout, on interprétera les caractéristiques des récits construits par les élèves.

How have primary school children built the history of Catalonia?


Research conducted by the research group GREDICS (UAB) is part of the project « Making common stories of national history by students » coordinated by teacher Françoise Lantheaume from Equipe d’Accueil Education, Cultures, Politiquesn 4571 (ECP) of the Université de Lyon (France).

The analysis of teaching and learning of national history is not new. Perhaps the novelty of our research is that it focuses on the history of Catalonia, a nation without a own state, but with a history and a clean diaper. The history program of Catalonia has many common aspects with the history curriculum of Spain (45%, minimum compulsory contents for all of Spain), because Catalonia is an autonomous region with many governmental jurisdictions among other educational.

The survey « What do you know about the history of Catalonia,and what have you learned? » Was passed students from four high schools, three public and one private, during the month of June 2011, shortly before the end of the school year. The aim was to discover what they know about the history of Catalonia in general, and which characters and events they recalled in particular, and how they constructed stories. The survey was taken by all classes of compulsory secondary education (12‐16 years).


Barca I. (2007). Investigaçâo em Educacâo Histórica. Perspectivas de Investigaçâo em Educaçâo Histórica (Schmidt M.A., Braga Garcia, T.M. org.) Braga : Curitiba Editora UTFPR (26‐42).

Barton K.C. (2008). Research on students’ ideas about history. Handbook of Research in Social Education (Levstik, L.S.; Tyson, C.A. eds.). New York: Routledge (239‐257).

Jenkins K. (2009). Repensar la historia. Madrid: Siglo XXI.

Lautier N.; Allieu‐Mary N. (2008). La didactique de l’histoire. Revue Française de Pédagogie, 162, (95‐131).

Létourneau J., Moisan S. (2004). Young People’s Assimilation of a Collective Historical Memory. Case Study of Quebeckers of French–Canadian Heritage. Theorizing Historical Consciousness, (Seixas P. ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press (109‐128).

Levesque S. (2008) Thinking Historically. Educating Students for the Twenty-First Century. Toronto : University of Toronto Press.

Santisteban A. ; González‐Monfort N. ; Pagès J. (2010).“Una investigación sobre la formación del pensamiento histórico. Metodología de investigación en Didáctica de las Ciencias Sociales (Ávila RM. ; Rivero P. ; Domíngues, PL. coords.). Zaragoza: Institución Fernando el Católico (115‐128).

Wilson S.M. (2001). Research on History Teaching. Handbook Of Research On Teaching (Richardson V. ed.). Washington: American Educational Research Association (527‐544).

“What is to be done with 1759 ?”, dans 1759 Remembered : Interpreting the Conquest, sous la dir. de Philip Buckner et John Reid, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2011

L’histoire du Québec racontée par les élèves du secondaire

Voici un article concernant les jeunes Québécois et leur récit de l’histoire du Québec.

Létourneau, Jocelyn & Christophe Caritey, « L’histoire du Québec racontée par les élèves du secondaire. L’impact apparent du cours d’histoire nationale dans la structuration d’une mémoire historique collective des jeunes Québécois »Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française, 62, 1 (été 2008), p. 69-93.


Les jeunes, que l’on dit amnésiques et déficitaires sur le plan de la culture historique, ne sont pas sans posséder une certaine vision de l’histoire du Québec. Quelle est cette vision ? Est-elle différente selon que l’on est francophone, anglophone ou allophone ? Évolue-t-elle après que les jeunes aient suivi le cours d’histoire nationale ? Quelle est l’importance effective de ce cours dans la structuration d’une mémoire historique collective chez les jeunes Québécois ? Voilà autant de questions abordées dans cet article, premier résultat d’un grande recherche en cours.


Young people, who are accused of being woefully uninformed when it comes to historical culture, are not without a certain vision of Quebec history. What is that vision ? Does it vary according to whether someone is francophone, anglophone or allophone ? Does it evolve after a young person has taken the national history course ? What is the real importance of this course in structuring a collective historical memory among young Quebeckers ? Such are the questions discussed in this article, which is the first result of a larger, ongoing research project.