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Date of Award
Dissertation-ISU Access Only
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Department of English
This dissertation explores the influences of emotional trauma and social attachment on the writing of life narrative. In the first chapter, “An Autography of Mental Illness,” I apply standpoint theory, trauma theory, and Jeanne Perreault’s “autography” to discuss community influences upon “authentic” expressions of trauma. Through Lauren Berlant’s “intimate publics” and “cruel optimism,” I indicate that social expectations of trauma and the genre conventions of “honest” narratives constrain expressions of trauma and marginalization. I interrogate my own positionalities in relation to divorce, military service, and mental illness. The next four chapters consist of life writing vignettes thematically focused on aspects of performing “the good parent” for my son. “Writing Pain” explores my experiences of physical pain from military service. “Writing Depression” examines the interplay of writing and mental illness, revealing the difficulty of narrating “a life.” “The Daddy War” contrasts perceptions of “a good dad” to my own experiences as a parent. “Divorce” interrogates the sources of my emotions during divorce and custody. The sixth chapter, “Pedagogy and Social Media in Creative Writing,” examines how social relationships affect students in creative writing in the era of digital social media.
Edel, Ryan J., "Writing Mental Illness and Interrogating Autobiographical Positionality" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 666.