Themes & Motifs

New Brunswick writers have told many different stories in many different ways. Indeed, the province’s literature is marked by a diversity of forms, voices, subjects, and settings. As is so often the case with the literature of a particular place, however, the imaginative work of New Brunswickers has been influenced and shaped by specific social and cultural conditions. As a result, New Brunswick writers across historical eras display common themes and motifs. Some of those themes and motifs, and the frequency with which they appear, distinguish the province’s literature from that of elsewhere, thus forming the basis of a distinct literary tradition. Other themes and motifs point toward the universality of human experience, revealing commonalities and interconnections between the literatures of New Brunswick and literatures around the world.  Readers will discover that the best literature is able to achieve both: express a strong sense of rootedness in place while also conveying human experiences that cut across geographic, cultural, religious, and political differences.

This PDF contains a list of themes that feature prominently in New Brunswick literature. Under that list, in table form, is a corresponding list of works, authors, and modules where each theme is evident. The themes are listed alphabetically; simply scroll through the list to find the one you are looking for. Teachers will be especially interested in these thematic groupings, which can easily be adapted for the creation of lesson or unit plans.