"That Weeping Constellation": Navigating Loss in Women's Memoirs of Textured Recovery.

Prodromou, Amy (2010) "That Weeping Constellation": Navigating Loss in Women's Memoirs of Textured Recovery. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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This project explores the writing of grief within women's narratives of loss. It is concerned with the question, "How does one honour, in grief, all that up-rises? And how then does one write of it?" (Gail Jones 149). In Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, she laments the absence of any significant body of literature that will help her through her grief. I propose that the grief memoir---a term new enough not to have been included in Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson's 52 genres of life narratives (in Reading Autobiography)---fills this gap left by professional literature of bereavement and itself contributes to "that weeping constellation" (Jones 147) or community of mourners missing from contemporary grief practices as identified by Sandra Gilbert and Darian Leader. This genre, new to literary analysis, provides fertile ground for the discussion of recent literary and psychoanalytic analyses of mourning that have resisted the neat split Freud draws between normal and pathological grief. My chosen texts deliberately complicate "packaged and frozen" (Ellmann qtd. in Payne et al. 78) notions of recovery while honouring what Jenny Diski calls the "texture of experience" (Skating 185). I'm essentially identifying a sub-genre of the grief memoir which I call "memoirs of textured recovery. " What sets them apart is the performance of complex "recovered" selves that show how "recovery," ambiguous and shifting in nature, calls for more complicated theories of mourning able to accommodate an understanding of grief not in terms of Freud's absolute recovery nor Tennyson's "loss forever new" (qtd. in Krasner 226), but rather, a space located somewhere in between. In their refusal to conform to the compensatory paradigms of the grief memoir, these texts contribute to "a dialogue of mournings" (Leader 85) and encourage us to think in a new ways about loss.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--Lancaster University (United Kingdom), 2010.
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02 May 2019 16:29
Last Modified:
28 Sep 2023 00:38