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Volume 38, Number 1 (2013)

Turning Round About: The Use of Nursery Rhyme in Daphne Marlatt’s Ana Historic

February 28, 2014


Ana Historic is primarily a feminist critique of the pedagogical methods that mothers use in relation to daughters. Through her own example and through direct verbal instruction to Annie, Ina attempts to instill a traditional notion of femininity in her daughter. The novel “turns round about” Ina’s pedagogy through various means, one of which is the troubling of Ina’s nursery rhymes. This paper considers the strategic use of “Teddy Bears’ Picnic,” “Mother May I Go and Bathe,” and “Polly Put the Kettle On” and their function in the novel’s feminist narrative to demonstrate the ways in which Marlatt’s use of nursery rhymes provides dissonance with the novel’s dramatization of masculine pedagogies and also creates poetic concordances in order to disempower the patriarchy.