Versions of a Life So Far: Tales from the Ceiling : Versions of a Life so Far: Memoiring the Memoir

Roneson, Julie and Schad, John (2023) Versions of a Life So Far: Tales from the Ceiling : Versions of a Life so Far: Memoiring the Memoir. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Louise Rosenblatt champions the belief that the reading of literature—or the encounter with ‘the poem,’ as she would say—is the active process which includes multiple levels of response by the reader. Rather than considering ‘the structure of the work of art as something statically inherent in the text,’ she explains, ‘we need to recognize the dynamic situation in which the reader, in the give-and-take with the text, senses or organizes a relationship among the various parts of his lived-through experience.’ Rosenblatt also talks of ‘text events’ as a way to explain the very particular experience of reading a particular text at a particular place or time. Cue my memoir Versions of a Life so Far: Tales from the Ceiling, which is built around a series of ‘text events,’ that is to say encounters with certain texts at certain points in my life, in particular my childhood years. These years belong primary to the 1960s and early 1970s, and so reflect the foundational text events of my life. Most notably, and at the heart of my text-sense of family, was the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie series. But I have expanded the definition of text to include artifacts, colours, and photographs, among other ‘text events.’ And as I relate and indeed re-enact my encounters with these texts, I find myself experimenting with form in various ways. The result is that the conventional prose of memoir here becomes a shifting of point-of-view as well as a vacillating chronology. By retelling the story or stories of my early life through its textual events, I have sought to produce a text that is itself an event in the sense that these ‘versions’ are at once representativeof a single life (so far), but exist also in the segmented way that a life unfolds.

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Thesis (PhD)
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23 May 2023 10:00
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 06:03