Chasing Peace: A Memoir

Stainsby, Meg Elizabeth (2022) Chasing Peace: A Memoir. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Chasing Peace: A Memoir is an auto/biographical prose work of literary non-fiction. At root, it is a trauma memoir, exploring both long-standing family trauma and its intersection with the narrator’s singular experience of having been abducted and sexually assaulted as a teenager. The work’s five-part structure braids together a superficially chronological rendering of the narrator’s life, from early childhood in the 1960s to present day, with intrusive, often repetitive strands of story that disrupt and frame this surface linearity. The intrusive strands foreground the narrator’s search to understand the traumas that shape and often limit her life as an adult woman diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); they also foreground her decades-long struggles with competing impulses to disclose and examine her condition, on the one hand, and to mask and avoid her symptoms, on the other. These struggles are explored in family, social and professional contexts, where themes of silence and disclosure figure prominently: the silences are sometimes voluntary, sometimes imposed, and not always conscious; the disclosures are, in the earlier years, often thwarted, displaced and/or masked, but with time and practice become more confident and intentional. Because of the significant attention paid to the integration of early family story, including intergenerational trauma, Chasing Peace is not a conventional trauma memoir; rather, it straddles the genre line between this sub-genre and the more comprehensive coming-of-age auto/biographical story. In this, as well as in its literary voice and craft, it reaches for a broader readership than the narrower trauma story might typically enjoy. The critical reflection following the creative thesis comprises four sections: an account of the genesis of the project; an account of the iterative writing process, including significant developments in structure, theme and craft over multiple drafts; a discussion of trauma narrative, in both the psychotherapeutic and the literary sense; and a discussion of comparator texts in the publishing field to which this thesis would contribute. This last section positions Chasing Peace among sixteen auto/biographical works, ranging in content from graphic, narrowly focused rape memoirs through more comprehensive and literary coming-of-age stories, all of which feature trauma, and ranging in style from academic argument through journalistic realism to allusive, literary text. The evidence of these works confirms that the market for memoir in general continues to thrive, even more steadily so for trauma-based stories, thanks in part to the 2017 viral reckoning of the #MeToo movement.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: creative writing, memoir, intergenerational trauma, PTSD, rape memoir, post-traumatic stress disorder
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Meg Stainsby
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2022 14:02
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2022 14:06

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