UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Remembering and reuniting fragments : an autobiographical and theoretical exploration of children's stories offering healing and hope to a young child Ehrenholz, Karen M


This thesis explores my relationship with my mother as a young child through the lens of children’s fiction and film. It is comprised of poems, each of which embodies my understanding of aspects of texts I engaged with throughout my early childhood. The poems are my response to themes, images, and phrases that I integrated into my own world view and belief systems in the context of a turbulent childhood. Themes that emerge include: a mother-daughter relationship, family secrets, trauma, abuse, and the transformative power of children’s book characters and stories. My exploration reveals the key role libraries and children’s fiction and film played in informing my childhood story. Children’s stories pulled me up and out of the ashes and rubble of my familial home and abusive maternal relationship. Children’s stories showered me with hope where none existed. This thesis is my attempt to distill the shadows and suffering of my childhood into something luminous and light (Martel, 2009). Visiting the library as well as reading and viewing children’s stories, helped me prosper emotionally, cognitively, and relationally; stories offered me healing. Through reading children’s books and projecting my thoughts and emotions onto the characters and their individual plights, I gathered insights, encouragement, clarity, and courage that helped me understand my mother in the broader context of my life, and to move beyond survival to thriving as a grown woman--as mother to my own children, as well as professional teacher nurturing the minds and hearts of others’ children. Following the poetic component of the thesis is a discussion of the approach I have undertaken, which might be described as a combination of poetic inquiry, narrative research, memoir, life writing, autobiography and autoethnography. I have elected to position this piece following the thesis, as a reflection, so as to let the poetry stand in the first place on its own, as a valid form of academic discourse.

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