July–August 2012

If marketing is the shaping of a product to suit consumers’ demands, what does it say about politics in 21st century Canada when all major parties are now using marketing techniques to attract voters? Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star, who is working on a book of her own about this phenomenon, reviews an academic collection of essays for us this month entitled Political Marketing in Canada in which several academics try to come to grips with the shifting and increasingly consumer-oriented ground on which our politics are based.

And if our politics are on shifting ground, how about our personalities? Nora Young’s new book, The Virtual Self: How Our Digital Lives Are Altering the World Around Us ponders the question of what shape personhood is going to take in the age of Facebook. Our reviewer, Dana Hansen, who teaches at Humber College in Toronto, witnesses the disembodied and relentlessly self-tracking behaviour of her students and worries that they may be detaching themselves far too much from the outside world around them.

Finally this month, Michael Valpy introduces readers to one of the 1812 cast of characters, but one who’s not likely to show up in the country’s commemorations and reenactments: Joseph Willcocks. A traitor yes, but a good Canadian-style traitor who Valpy says we needn’t be annoyed or embarrassed about. You’ll enjoy his story.

Happy summer reading.

Bronwyn Drainie