the painted or written image becomes a primary means of probing issues
of French-Canadian identity, itself defined, to a major extent, by the inter-
play of nature and culture and the interaction of various cultures.
Only tangentially theoretical, this topic is primarily analytical in
view of the concrete texts and paintings it examines in detail; compara-
tive and interdisciplinary in relating works of different genres on the
basis of period, topic, theme, style, ideology, and often direct influence;
and synthetic in terms of its scope, encompassing works from the earli-
est eras of European presence in the New World to the present. Yet,
having now put into play the terms of this chapter's title, along with
the equally elusive ones of 'imagery' and 'identity' in the topic's subti-
tle, I would like to propose some operational definitions, with full in-
tent to modify them as they arise in specific cases.
Nature and Culture
As in most French dictionaries, Le Petit Robert 's first definition of 'cul-
ture' involves cultivating the land, as in the English word agriculture.
In this sense, culture implies the imposition of order and productivity
on nature, which then becomes the negative correlative, that is, that
By extension, a second, figurative definition of culture involves the cul-
tivating of human faculties, such as thinking, judging, perceiving, and
communicating; and by further extension, those qualities that distin-
guish one society or social group from another, such as language, cus-
this study, in that they relate, respectively but not exclusively, to the
construction, perception, and representation of the landscape.
Despite Édouard Herriot's oft-quoted aphorism that culture is what
remains when one has forgotten everything ('La culture, c'est ce qui
reste quand on a tout oublié'), a nation's culture is clearly a matter of
memory, as the motto on today's Quebec license plate, 'Je me souviens'
(I remember), suggests and the subtitle of Fernand Dumont's classic
work Le lieu de l'homme: La culture comme distance et mémoire (The Place
of Man: Culture as Distance and Memory) confirms.4 4 And, as reposito-
ries of memory, the memorial and the memoir, the landscape and land-
scape representation, become the primary means of preserving cultural
heritage, which, as the geographer Luc Bureau concludes, invariably
involves contradictory elements: 'Car une culture atteint son identité
non pas par un seul ou quelques-uns de ses éléments montés en graine,