Table of contents


Introduction: Imag(in)ing the National Terrain from the Mid-twentieth Century to the Sesquicentennial

Approaching National Literature
Women in the Linked Roles of Reading and Writing
The Commissions: From Massey to Truth and Reconciliation
From Total Refusal and the Quiet Revolution to Cultural Accommodation
New Images of Movement and Diversity


Prospects at Mid-Century
Wrestling with the Strictures of Marriage and Family
Revolutionary Talents and Experiments
Flowering Careers in the Sixties
Trajectories of Celebrity: Munro and Atwood
The Tangle of Domesticity and Independence
Rhizomes of Sexuality, Nation, Race, and Ethnicity
Extensions in 2017


Original Screenplays
Adaptations of Women’s Writing in Canada


Jaques, Livesay, Waddington, and Page: "fired in the kiln of endurance"
P. K. Page: Onlooker and Participant
Wilkinson, Brewster, Avison, and Macpherson: "clearing the hurdles of sleep"
MacEwen and Atwood: "the slow striptease of our concepts"
Webb, Lowther, Marlatt, and Brossard: "the way any of us are tangled in the past"
Tostevin, Brand, Halfe, and Dumont: "their fragile, fragile symmetries of gain and loss"
Crozier, Moure, Zwicky, Carson, Michaels, Bolster, and Shraya: "the truth likes to hide out in the open"
Karen Solie: "poetic hipster"


Folk Singers Reclaiming Traditions
Punk, Pop, and Country
Adult Contemporary Styling


Ringwood: Canadian Drama’s Foremother
Joudry, Hendry, and Simons: Examining Emotions
Pollock and Bolt: Re-viewing History and Power Politics
Sharon Pollock: "meaning through the making of theatre"
Ritter, Glass, Clark, and Lill: Enacting Vulnerabilities
Thompson and MacDonald: Performing Marginalization and Shape-Shifting
Judith Thompson: "through the looking glass, darkly"
Gale, Sears, Mojica, Cheechoo, Nolan, and Clements: Recording "Documemories"
MacLeod, Moscovitch, and Chatterton: Exploring Impasses

Writing for Children

Fiction about Children and Young Adults
Other Times and Space of Fantasy
Illustrated Narratives


Memoirists and Autobiographers
Commentators on Our World
Advisors and Observers


Works Cited


Spanning the period from the Massey Commission to the present and reflecting on the media of print, film, and song, this study attends to the burgeoning energy of women writers across genres. It explores how their work interprets our national story. The questioning, disruptive feminist practice of their fiction, filmmaking, poetry, song-writing, drama, and non-fiction reveals the tensions of colonial society at the same time as it transforms cultural life in Canada.


"With impressive critical acuity and obvious enthusiasm, Patricia Demers has a range of Canadian female artists in print, film, and music, each contributing to the national story. Non-Canadians interested in the cultural field will be richly informed."

- Patricia Keeney, York University

"Patricia Demers, an established scholar of early modern literature and gender, has turned more recently to an extensive examination of gender and national literature with Women’s Writing in Canada, an engaging account of mid-twentieth-century and contemporary writing in Canada, with some nods to pre-1950s women in the field."

- Stephen Cain, York University