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Unsettled and destabilising life writing : the gothic memoir
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Donna BrienDonna Brien
This chapter explores character, writing and a “new” narrative trajectory for the Gothic, embodied in life writing and, in particular, the contemporary memoir. Mapping how memoirs, including Alison Bechdel’s acclaimed memoir presented in the form of a graphic narrative, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006), have recently been characterised as Gothic in order to highlight how the autobiographic mode’s fact-based authenticity can work with the obvious constructed artificiality of Gothic style, I suggest that all life writing is a form of Gothic reanimation, where authors and their pasts are eternally brought back to life though the readers’ engagement in these narratives. Exploring how notions of the uncanny and liminality are integral to both the content and writing practices involved in such memoir, this essay argues that utilising the features, tropes and concerns of Gothic fiction in memoir reveals not only how such life writing can provide a fertile platform for Gothic expression, but how this enhances life writing’s ability comment on uncanny, uncomfortable and liminal personal, social and cultural situations.