The dissertation combines narrative, scholarly, and lyric modes to explore its author’s life in American literature. From Mary Rowlandson’s twenty “removes” to Joan Didion's migraines, the project locates sources of a personal epistemology in the American literature that has haunted its author. While the primary form of the dissertation is the creative nonfiction essay, it also includes prose poems and scholarship. Blending poetry with narrative and criticism with autobiography, the dissertation breaks down the boundary between literature and self by blurring genre. Alongside formally experimental essays, the dissertation includes two traditionally conceived scholarly essays, both of which analyze contemporary creative writers who work at the boundaries between forms and genres to establish their own authorship. An essay on short stories by Joyce Carol Oates and Cynthia Ozick about Henry James argues that the productively slippery generic designation “biofiction” allows Oates and Ozick to combine criticism with fiction. The dissertation’s second scholarly essay examines the receptions of booklength experiments in lyric feminist autobiography by Lyn Hejinian and Bernadette Mayer, arguing for a criticism that embraces the ideological and formal expansiveness of Hejinian’s and Mayer’s “open” texts. Both essays argue that creative writing works with—and often as—criticism, particularly in interpreting pre-twentieth-century writers for contemporary readers. Presenting scholarly argument alongside mixed-genre creative writing, the dissertation offers an example of how crossing genres and disciplines can lead to descriptions of American literature and American literary history that are both more expansive and more detailed.
|Commitee:||Davis-McElligatt, Joanna, Ingram, Shelley|
|School:||University of Louisiana at Lafayette|
|School Location:||United States -- Louisiana|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Creative writing, American literature|
|Keywords:||Biofiction, Creative criticism, Creative nonfiction, James, Henry|
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