Uniform TitleMigrations of memory: postmemory in twentieth century ethnic American women's literature
NameRice, Maria J. (author), Wall, Cheryl (chair), Edwards, Brent (internal member), DeKoven, Marianne (internal member), Smith, Valerie (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School-New Brunswick,
SubjectEnglish, Literatures in,
African American women authors,
Women authors, American,
Butler, Octavia E.,
Perry, Phyllis Alesia, 1961-,
Danticat, Edwidge, 1969-,
Garc??a, Cristina, 1958-,
Kingston, Maxine Hong.,
Keller, Nora Okja.
Description"Migrations of Memory" studies the experience and resolution of inherited traumatic memory as depicted in the late twentieth-century narrative works of Ethnic and African American women writers. Often raised in the shadow of cultural or traumatic memories with which they have no direct experience, but deep affective connection, these writers from traditionally marginalized or subjugated groups find themselves, in the post
1960s era, with greater opportunities than ever before to enter the mainstream of American society and separate themselves from their cultural pasts. My study argues that, in response to this possible loss of cultural moorings, contemporary Ethnic and African American women writers use narrative to theorize their relationship to their cultural inheritance and the influence that relation has on the formation of contemporary identity.
This dissertation builds on the scholarship of Marianne Hirsch who coined the term postmemory to describe the relationship the children of survivors of cultural or collective trauma have to their parents' memories. Although Hirsch originated the term in relation to the Holocaust, my project utilizes the concept as a starting point for a theoretical approach to analyzing narrative representations of the generational impact of traumatic memory in a diversity of cultural contexts and resulting from a variety of experiences. The texts in my study have in common a process of identification, translation, and differentiation, whereby American-born protagonists first identify with or bear witness to their traumatic inheritance, then translate it into the terms of their lived
experience, and finally differentiate from it by re-articulating it in a form appropriate to their generational or cultural perspective. Analyzing the experience of inherited traumatic memory depicted in Gayl Jones' Corregidora, Octavia Butler's Kindred, Phyllis Alesia Perry's Stigmata, Edwidge Danticat's The Dew Breaker, Cristina Garc'sDreaming in Cuban, Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior, and Nora Okja Keller's Comfort Woman, I argue ultimately that the resolution of postmemory requires representation and consistently engenders formal innovation.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 276-283).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.