Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Gender and Verse: Religion in New Zealand Women's Poetry, 1970-2019

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posted on 2021-12-09, 09:37 authored by Long, Vida

This thesis explores the remarkable, surprising and enduring presence of religion within the writings of New Zealand women poets since the 1970s. Analysing a comprehensive range of poems, I argue that religion is a dynamic and compelling feature of women’s poetry, emerging in a number of distinctive forms and tones. Using a thematic analysis, I explore religion in relation to domesticities, body and flesh, and whenua/land. I show that women poets deploy and rework religious ideas in ways that illuminate their gendered perspectives and experiences. Arguing that religion should be brought back into the centre of the scholarly analysis of New Zealand literature, I advance a fresh approach to the concept of religion. This framework acknowledges the interdependence and mutual imbrication of ‘religion’ and the ‘secular’, and also facilitates attention to ‘spirituality’. This expansive framework affords careful investigation into the interrelationships between all three of these modern categories. Having shown that religion permeates New Zealand women’s poetry and that attending to religion’s presence is vital for interpretation, I argue for a bona fide cross- disciplinary conversation between religious studies and literary studies; a revitalised investigation on ‘religion and literature’ will be productive for both fields.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Religious Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Social and Cultural Studies


Fountain, Philip; Troughton, Geoff