Dec 08 2010

Reflections on 391W

Published by at 3:14 pm under Uncategorized

Discussing Autobiography in this class has introduced me to a profound way of looking at myself and what can be said about oneself with varied consequences. Text that really stood out to me were Kathryn Harrison’s The Kiss, Tim O’Brien’s The Things We Carried, Linda Anderson’s Autobiography, and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. Anderson’s analytic work in particular really impacted me because it pieced apart the elements that go into Autobiographical writing, the process beforehand and the process after. Harrison’s work really created controversial debates for me that I am writing about in my paper and will forever influence my views on life writing and the consequences of choosing certain content. I was often taught to analyze the text and not what the author was possibly thinking or what of their life experiences shaped them to write what they did, however this class provided me with the authority to keep those things in consideration as it was non-fiction work, mostly.

O’Brien’s work taught me an extremely valuable lesson at the beginning of the semester, that it is the desired impact you carried from your experiences that you want your audience to take away with them, not the fixation with factual acuteness of events. His work as well created controversy as readers and critics accused him of violating the privilege a writer takes on when writing autobiography of being allowed to tap into a high level of trust and believability within their audience. However, it can also be argues that the writer is also connecting and opening themselves up to public scope, so how they chose to portray their stories should definitely be within their reigns.

Bechdel’s work along with much of the reading this semester dealt with trauma, but her handling of it was extremely sobering and nuanced as she reacted in an unfamiliarized way to her fathers death. She was unable to react and socially familiar way of crying and feeling extremely vulnerable or depressed and withdrawn. Bechdel’s memory of her father being the focus of her memoir challenged the traditional grieving process many people are used to in that she had private moments of violence or anger regarding her fathers death. She also explored her own connection to him not only textually but graphically. Her work allowed her to draw parallels between herself and father rather than fixate on his absence. She gives away at the beginning of the memoir that he is death, familiarizing the reader in every way with the concept of death and losing someone close to you and thus she defamiliarizes our traditional concept of death at the same time as her portrayal of her father isn’t entirely sympathetic, but realist and sobering.

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