Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Not applicable

Advisor Role

Not applicable


This thesis looks at the theme of gender and the search for identity in three fictional works of Canadian poet and novelist Gwendolyn MacEwen. The works considered are her first novel Julian the Magician (1963) and her two collections of short stories Noman (1972) and Noman’s Land (1985).

The thesis examines the way self-identity is characterized and considers the way gender is presented in relation to the self. The work shows the development of MacEwen’s idea of self from a creative eternal force equivalent to the Christ image in Julian the Magician to an eternal force that finds its expression through the ability to grasp the experience of the essential human aspect of loneliness, in her two collections of short stories. MacEwen’s portrayal of women, however, remains consistent throughout these works. As her work progresses the gender question becomes more clearly articulated.

MacEwen protrays women primarily in terms of the body while men are characterized in terms of the mind. The self is identified with the intellect, thereby indicating that men by nature are predisposed to redemption. Female identity is based on a woman’s role as mother and helpmate to help a male to find his own identity. MacEwen does not provide an understanding of human nature that overcomes the mind/body dichotomy, which leaves women marginalized and disempowered.

Convocation Year