The End of the Five Solitudes?

The End of the Five Solitudes? Towards a Linguistic and Cultural Map of Contemporary Montreal

Sixth session of the 2023-2024 CEFRES Francophone Interdisciplinary Seminar The map and the border
In 2023, we would like to start by beginning by questionning the very act of bordering and representing (a territory, a period, a trajectory), in short, thanks to the interdisciplinarity of our respective disciplines, to question the map and the border.

Location: CEFRES, Na Florenci 3, Prague 1
Date: Friday 10th, May 2024 from 10am to 12pm CET
Language: French

Speaker: Eva Voldřichová-Beránková  (Faculty of Arts, Charles University)
Discussant: Mateusz Chmurski (CEFRES)


In 1945, Hugh MacLennan’s renowned novel Two Solitudes explored the cultural alienation between Quebec’s French-speaking and English-speaking populations. Over three centuries, language, religion and socioeconomic factors have traditionally acte as barriers between these communities, fostering coexistence rather than integration. Since the 1980s, a revived academic interest in Montreal’s Yiddish culture had led to discussions of a “third solitude” characterizing certain Jewish diasporas in Canada. Simultaneously, a cultural and political renaissance among First Nations and Inuit peoples has been decribes as the “fourth solitude”, reflecting their unique life experiences. Today, authors of migrant literatures frequently evoke a “fifth solitude”, encompassing immigrants, their descendants, and native Quebecers who explore themes of exile and cultural adaptation. Montreal emerges as a historical nexus of these “five solitudes”, each shaping the city’s landcape and narrative. By examining specific neighborhouds, insights can be gained into how diverse linguistic and cultural communities have become ingrained in Montreal’s urban fabric, expanding across space and time. Through their literary contributions, they offer distinctive perspectives on the Canadian metropolis, contributing to its intricate linguistic, cultural and mental map. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commits to addressing the “trauma of historical solitudes”, consideration is given to the practical tools available to realize this aspiration.

View the complete seminar program for 2023-2024 here.