A Captivating 'Open City': The Production of Montreal as a 'Wide-Open Town' and 'Ville Ouverte' in the 1940s and '50s

Type of resource
A Captivating 'Open City': The Production of Montreal as a 'Wide-Open Town' and 'Ville Ouverte' in the 1940s and '50s
The author examines Montreal as a North American "open city" in the 1940s and 1950s: who was represented by it and who was excluded from it, by what means and in whose interest. While the city carried an alleged "400-year-old heritage of sin", it was only in the mid-twentieth century that this "sin" transitioned from an immoral but "necessary evil" to exciting, sensational and marketable entertainment. The author focuses on mass-produced literary and visual representations (e.g. magazines, popular novels, propaganda, political campaign rhetoric) of Montreal and other open cities, both fictional and non-fictional. These sources provide insight into the open city as a discursive formation, invested in by moral reformers, business men, politicians, journalists and fiction writers alike, working both inside and outside of Montreal. The author also examines what relevance the sensationalistic open city has today, when Montreal is still regarded as an international city of spectacle. Interrogating the construction and effect of Montreal's post-war imaginary, as well as the opportunities and motives which made it possible, will allow for a re-assessment of some long-held beliefs about the city's open city era and will re-open the debate on what "openness" meant for a modern metropolis like Montreal in the mid twentieth century. The open city was not open to everyone.
Master's Thesis
McGill University
# of Pages
Kuplowsky, Adam. “A Captivating ‘Open City’: The Production of Montreal as a ‘Wide-Open Town’ and ‘Ville Ouverte’ in the 1940s and ’50s.” Master’s Thesis, McGill University, 2014. https://escholarship.mcgill.ca/concern/theses/d217qs859.
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