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"Exactly the same story only it was different": Explorations into autobiography

Maftei, Micaela (2011) "Exactly the same story only it was different": Explorations into autobiography. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This project is concerned with issues of multiplicity and truthfulness at the heart of autobiographical writing. Although main themes commingle and resurface throughout the thesis, each of the four chapters focuses on one of the following questions: What does it mean to write autobiographically truthfully, and who determines success or failure in this arena? How do we understand the author as a split identity, both in terms of the temporal distance between events and writing, and as a figure who features in the story as well as writes it? What are the possible effects of seeing memory as a tool authors can choose to use in order to access past events, and how is this complicated by the way our brain experiences the act of remembering? Can we divorce autobiographical writing from traditional fiction/nonfiction categorisation by understanding it as a totally new creation that relies on the past but is not bound by it? I refer to Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Vladimir Nabokov’s Speak, Memory and Natalia Ginzburg’s The Things We Used to Say, as well as a number of other relevant texts and authors. I focus on authors who have written autobiography and also written about writing autobiographically; I do this in order to examine how the authors describe and understand some decisions (structural, stylistic, etc.), in combination with textual analysis of their work. The thesis also includes an appendix of original writing. This consists of a collection of short stories that are autobiographical in nature. These stories represent the launch pad for the research and critical writing. They were written first, and writing them encouraged the above questions, and subsequent reading and research, to develop. They are therefore profoundly connected to the project but are also a body of work distinct from it. They do not need to be read in order to approach the main body of the thesis. They act something like scaffolding in the way that they enabled the critical reading and writing to develop, but are no longer essential in structuring or approaching the thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: memoir, autobiography, identity, creative writing
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Reeder, Dr. Elizabeth
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Ms Micaela Maftei
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-3106
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2012
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:04
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/3106

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