Title

Memorial

Publication Date

April 2017

Advisor(s)

Douglas Martin

Major

French Studies, English

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

Memorial is split into two parts. The first, Catastasis, is a collection of poems that traces my reconstruction of the relationship with my cousin, Dempsey, who died of cancer when we were both four years old. I introduce a series of artifacts—toys, photos, sound recordings, emails, and family stories—and reflect on how each one sparks, or fails to spark, a resonance in my memory, shoddy to begin with, and faded after many years. Intermixed are assorted ruminations on memory, dementia, time, death and learning about death, and family mythology. The second part, Littoral, is driven by an analytical reading of Édouard Levé’s Suicide (2008), a work of French contemporary nonfiction. The author bares his scattered process of recollection of a friend who committed suicide twenty years prior, alternating between asking (rhetorical) questions and offering his own reflections on the implications of the act of suicide. My analysis draws on the writings of many narrative theorists, including Freud, Barthes, Derrida, Hernstein Smith, Hillis Miller, and Brooks, in an attempt to unravel the knotted significance in the form of the work. My aim is to deconstruct the way in which Suicide functions as a monument to the deceased friend, and to Levé himself. The critical strain is juxtaposed with a strain of italicized interjections, illustrative anecdotes that help to clarify and ground the piece.

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