From walls to windows : healing through self-revision in Dorothy Allison's nonfiction

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Christine L. Massey (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
Janet Ellerby

Abstract: In the following pages, I explore the connection between recovering from trauma and autobiographical writing. Using Dorothy Allison’s nonfiction, various trauma theorists, and my own experiences writing nonfiction, I show how vital the role of writing the trauma is to the trauma sufferer. Trauma negatively effects identification with the self and causes memory of the event to become fragmented, instead of following the narrative form of other memories. This negative sense of self and the incoherence of traumatic memories disallows the trauma sufferer to make sense and come to terms with painful events. Writing the trauma can be a way of formulating it into a coherent narrative. Writing can organize the disorganized pieces of traumatic memory; once a narrative is created, understanding of the event can begin, and emotional recovery can occur. While writing the trauma story is imperative, the trauma victim must first overcome roadblocks which prevent telling the tale. Telling can be difficult and painful, and I explore many of the aspects which prevent telling. I argue that the need to tell becomes so strong, not telling is no longer an option, as Allison continually proves in her work.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Allison Dorothy--Criticism and interpretation
Allison, Dorothy -- Criticism and interpretation

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