UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"What remains remain remains" : scrapbooking grief in the memoirs of Alison Bechdel, Anne Carson, and Karen Green Furlong, Lian


This thesis explores multimodal, scrapbook-style responses to loss in three autobiographical works: Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Anne Carson’s Nox, and Karen Green’s Bough Down. With particular consideration to their use of the deceased’s documents, scraps, and detritus in articulating their grief, I argue that these authors manipulate their archives and reassemble their contents to generate new past, present, and future conditions for their relationships both to the dead and to themselves. From the wreckage of artifacts – paper scraps, paste, and ink – counter-histories emerge framed by desire and affection: works that present fragmented histories as changed by the material engagements of those left behind. By virtue of these books’ experimental, collage-style forms, and their often-intertextual meditations on loss, this project necessitates diverse theoretical engagement. It draws on scholarship primarily from the fields of media studies, cultural studies, queer and feminist critical theory in accounting for Bechdel, Carson, and Green’s formulations of grief, memory, and time. As becomes apparent over each case study, all of these works ultimately resist their authors’ closure and resolve in suspended irresolution. This project considers how these authors’ formal experimentation stresses the impossibility of their catharsis; the gap between body and shadow, past and present, dead and living refuses reconciliation.

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