Lament for a Notion: Place and Identity in Newfoundland Literature

Lay Summary 

An investigation of the production and presentation of Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders in contemporary literature. Authors examined include Wayne Johnston, Michael Crummey, Edward Riche, Lisa Moore, Patrick Kavanagh, Michael Winter, Annie Proulx, Paul Bowdring.

I’m examining the continued creation of Newfoundland in literature since D. W. Prowse’s History of Newfoundland, with a particular focus on recent authors and their questioning and perpetuation of Newfoundland identity through their work. I consider the notions of Newfoundlanders as a “hardy race” of people, Newfoundlanders as a post-colonial, put-upon people exploited by foreign authorities, Newfoundlanders as a people “at one” with their island, and Newfoundlanders as an increasingly urban people.

The thesis proposes to use literature as an entry point into the examination of Newfoundland identity and the myths, beliefs, and history that combine to create this identity. As Newfoundlanders become increasingly dependant on the tourism industry for income, it is important to examine the culture that is being created and consumed.
It is the goal of both my supervisor and myself to eventually publish this thesis as a text that can be used as a companion to the novels or as a source text for university courses on Newfoundland literature.

English Language and Literature
Doctoral Fellowship, Department Of English Language And Literature, Memorial University
St. John's
Newfoundland and Labrador
Arts, Culture & Heritage
Industry Sectors 
Heritage Institutions
Start date 
1 Jan 2007