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ERIC Number: EJ1097304
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0007-8034
Study of Family Memoir and Ideologies of Gender: Application to the Intersection of the Creative and the Scholarly in the Writing Classroom
Williams, Elly
CEA Forum, v35 n1 Win-Spr 2006
Elly Williams is an adjunct instructor at Johns Hopkins where she received her M.A. in writing. She is a faculty member for the Sewanee Young Writers' Conference, and the author of the novel "This Never Happened." The article she presents here is divided into three parts: (1) Tales of a Grandmother's Commonplace Memoir; (2) Assignment: Lying Autobiographical Essay; and (3) Syllabus: Women and Writing. Williams begins part one with a description of her maternal grandmother's memoir entitled "Annals and Anecdotes," in which Williams notes that her grandmother wrote her memoirs to re-create and honor the world of the past and the members within it in order to preserve it for future generations. She compares the somewhat emotionally enhanced writings of her grandmother to Susan Miller's "Assuming the Positions: Cultural Pedagogy and the Politics of Commonplace Writing." Williams notes that while Miller's Southern upper-class mentality was not different from her own, the key difference between the two writers is the more rigid, romanticized stand that her grandmother takes. Miller's stance on the other hand is the concept that rhetoric can provide movement within a family's life for love, understanding, change, and growth in both roles and feelings. Williams' considers that her grandmother's writings did not, and a rhetoric of lack of flexibility and movement was at the heart of her "Damma's" memoir. Part one draws to a conclusion as Williams says she has come to understand that Damma didn't precisely lie on purpose, but rather wrote what she perceived as her necessary truths. The problem is that she demanded that they be the rest of the family's truths, and practices as well. Part two, presents a book called "Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir" by Lauren Slater. The premise of the book is that emotional truth "is" the truth--that if Slater writes she has epilepsy in order to describe trauma in her life, the fact that she doesn't have epilepsy is not relevant. All that matters is that the emotional truths are on the page. Having recently undergone the dissolution of her own relationship with her grandmother due to divorce, Williams loved this concept, and began to use this book as a text in her Women and Writing class. Williams tells her students that what matters most in writing is that the emotional truths are on the page. A class assignment is outlined in which Williams encourages her students to think beyond the literal. Guidelines for writing a lying autobiographical essay to guide students away from the traditional essay are provided. Part three offers a detailed syllabus.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A