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Three Women Writing the Postcolonial Experience

French, Danielle F. (2013) Three Women Writing the Postcolonial Experience. Masters thesis, Radford University.

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Abstract

Substantial controversy concerning authorial intentions surrounds many popular memoirs. Still more problematic is the issue of historical events as represented in the memoir; often, the account of a well-known event in a memoir may differ from the “objective” historical version of that same event. With the increasing number of postcolonial memoirs making bestseller lists in the US, many well-meaning readers often oversimplify, essentialize, and fetishize a gender, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, or society, making the author‟s experience and views decidedly “other.” Instead of applying postcolonial theory to each memoir, which can lead to unintentionally essentializing and fetishizing a race, ethnicity, religion, society, or culture, the reader concentrates on three different types of memoir: the trauma memoir, the coming of age memoir, and the academic memoir. Chapter One examines Maya Angelou‟s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings as a trauma memoir, illustrating the steps she takes to recovery after childhood abuse. Chapter Two focuses on coming of age in Marie Arana‟s American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood, showing that human connections help bridge cultural divides and develop identity. Chapter Three studies Azar Nafisi‟s Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, examining how this academic memoir draws parallels between the fiction in literature and the reality of life in Iran. By revisiting what the genre of memoir and the work memoir entails and promises, readers can see that memoir authors are not promising a historically accurate, unbiased, or representative view of a culture, race, ethnicity, gender, society, or religion. Rather, these writers are re-experiencing their own lives through memory and showing how the fine line between fiction and non-fiction offers a multiplicity of realities, and in this multiplicity, the reality of the “objective” historical events and the reality of the author‟s experience can exist in the same space. By focusing on the genre of memoir, its purpose, and its responsibilities, readers can glean not just from the accurate relation of events but from their own experience in reading memoir.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: UNSPECIFIED
Depositing User: Danielle F. French
Date Deposited: 30 May 2013 18:14
Last Modified: 30 May 2013 18:14
URI: http://wagner.radford.edu/id/eprint/124

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