Dr. Chantal Ringuet
Join us for an overview of Leonard Cohen’s work and journey.
Gain an understanding of the greater cultural context of the writers of the beat generation, folk singers in the US, the turbulence of the 1960s, Québec's Quiet Revolution, modernism and postmodernism, and the Cold War; all through Leonard Cohen’s work. You will learn all about the emergence of the young McGill poet and his position as an outsider in his community.
The focus will then shift from the writer to the acclaimed singer, composer, and songwriter that he became when he turned to performance and recording. As a cultural icon, Cohen will be studied starting with the emergence of his first album, 1967's Songs of Leonard Cohen, which later became a cultural phenomenon. We will follow his resurgence after 1988's I’m Your Man and his world fame after the tours of 2008-2013.
This workshop will consist of four two-and-a-half hour sessions.
From a Young McGill Poet to celebrity
This first class seeks to set the stage for the series, primarily by setting the socio-cultural and literary context in which the young Leonard Cohen developed a personal style which brought him to write eclectic poems and experimental novels. During this period (late 1950s-1960s), Cohen followed in the footsteps of, among others, A.M. Klein and Irving Layton. We will also draw a brief overview of his life and career.
Born in Montreal. A Stranger in Exile
While retracing Leonard Cohen’s cultural and religious background, we will discuss the notion of exile and relate it both to Judaism and to Cohen’s personal way to reinvent his origins (“I’m the little Jew who wrote the Bible”). This course might take place at the Shaar Hashomayim synagogue (to be confirmed).
“There Is A War”. From Warrior to Troubadour
In this third session, we will examine the different aspects of war and conflict in Cohen’s works: the cultural representations of the Holocaust, the Cuban revolution, the Yom Kippur War, the Cold War, the crisis of faith in modernity, as well as the decline of post-modern ideas and ideals.
(Songs: The Old Revolution, The Partisan, First We Take Manhattan, Then We Take Berlin)
A Crack in Everything: Leonard Cohen’s Legacy
This final session will focus on darkness and light, sensuality and spirituality, despair and hope in Cohen’s work. In the end, we will try to define what is Leonard Cohen's legacy today.
Dr. Chantal Ringuet is a Québécoise writer, scholar and translator from Québec. She specialises in Literary and Cultural Studies, Québec and Canadian Literature, Women’s Literature (Women’s Studies, Jewish Literature (Jewish Studies), Montréal Yiddish, literary translation, poetry and essays, and Psychoanalytic theory.
For the past decade, she has focused on research, translation, and her own creative literature. She is currently working on her first novel.