The working title of my thesis was "'That Weeping Constellation': Narratives of Loss and Recovery in Contemporary Women's Writing."
'How does one honour, in grief, all that up-rises? And how then does one write of it?' -- Gail Jones ('Without Stars')
Although memoir uniquely satisfies "a desire to assert agency and subjectivity after several decades of insisting loudly on the fragmentation of identity and the death of the author" (Miller 12), it has often taken a backseat to autobiography studies within lifewriting criticism. As Helen Buss suggests, "[t]he study of memoirs from a theoretical and critical perspective informed by scholarly research is now overdue" (7-8).
I proposed that the grief memoir—only recently advocated as a genre in its own right by Kathleen Fowler—fills a gap left by the professional literature of bereavement and itself contributes to "that weeping constellation" (Jones 147) or community of mourners missing from contemporary grief practices as identified by Sandra Gilbert in Death's Door (2006) and Darian Leader in The New Black (2008). If, as Gilbert believes, we are at "a historical moment when death [is] in some sense unspeakable and grief—or anyway the expression of grief—[is] at best an embarrassment, at worst a social solecism or scandal" (xix), then the grief memoir can contribute to what Leader calls a much-needed "dialogue of mournings" (85) and shed new light on how we navigate loss.
What sets my chosen texts apart is the performance of complex "recovered" selves that show how "recovery," ambiguous and shifting in nature, calls for more complicated theories of mourning able to accommodate an understanding of grief not in terms of Freud's absolute recovery nor Tennyson's "loss forever new" (Laura Tanner), but rather, a space located somewhere in between.
I have given numerous conference papers, most recently "'Memoirs of Textured Recovery':Navigating Loss in Women's Contemporary Memoir" at Founding Conference IABA Europe "Life Writing in Europe" (VU University, Amsterdam, 29-31 October 2009); "'No Bones Broken': (Dis)Embodiment and Recovery in Jenny Diski's Skating To Antarctica" at "Writing Bodies/Reading Bodies in Contemporary Women's Writing" (Postgraduate Contemporary Women's Writing Network, Oxford University, Sept. 2009); and a short story, "Girl Flights," at "Glocal Imaginaries" (Lancaster Univeristy, Sept. 2009). I'm currently working on a novel, sections of which have been published in journals including: Cadences: A Journal of Literature and the Arts in Cyprus, EAPSU: An Online Journal of Critical and Creative Writing, and most recently in R.KV.R.Y Literary Journal and Blood Lotus: An Online Literary Journal.
Amy graduated in 2011.