Essays

Crossing the Void: Grieving and Transformation

Lara Bardsley reflects on the value of collecting “familial stories of loss, trauma, separation, suicide, and genocide” for her research. Beautifully capturing her feelings of loss upon her PhD submission, she notes the “transformative power of witnessing our stories” she has gained during the PhD, which she carries with her in her professional career.

When I finished my PhD, I fell into a hole, a descent that was unplanned, too long unwitnessed and incomprehensible for many (including myself), who expected the completion to come as a celebration. I have been present to stories of suffering and transcendence in my twenty-two years as a psychologist and supervisor, but my PhD had offered me a unique experience: to turn my attention to my own stories and reflect upon them as an artist and researcher, using the language of film, life writing, photography and fine art. Immersed as I was in the stories that emerged when I asked, “What does it mean to know who we are?” I did not expect that I would feel such a loss when it was over. Continue reading “Crossing the Void: Grieving and Transformation”

Essays

Gutters of Relationality and the Visibility of Vietnamese American Experiences in Bao Phi’s A Different Pond

Thai Luong discusses how Bao Phi’s autobiographical picture book, A Different Pond, resonates with his own experiences and memories. Examining illustrations, gutters, and silences in the book, Luong shows that the text invites members of the Vietnamese American community to identify with its representation of the challenges of life in a new country.

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In the autobiographical picture book, A Different Pond, written by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui, Phi recalls a fishing journey with his father after they moved to Minneapolis at the end of the Vietnam War. On this fishing trip, the young Phi learns about his father’s traumatic involvement with the Vietnam War and the family’s struggle with poverty and adjustment to America—themes central and visceral to most Vietnamese American refugees and immigrants who are adjusting to a new life in America.

Reading A Different Pond as a Vietnamese American, I felt a close bond with Phi’s story and his struggles with his experience in America. Although Phi’s book is autobiographical, I felt as if he was writing a chapter of my life, too. This relationship between the reader (myself) and Phi amplifies the book’s themes of family and immigration. G. Thomas Couser and many life-writing theorists have argued that self-representational genres are relational, that they represent lives of others beyond the author’s own intention. I expand Couser’s definition further by exploring Leigh Gilmore’s definition of “representativeness”—that is, how one’s trauma can represent another group’s experience, which Gilmore describes as the “intertwining of individual and collective representation that demonstrates the close relation between representing yourself and participating in a representative structure in which one may stand for many” (19). A Different Pond operates as a dual representation of both the author’s experience and the reader’s by depicting the Vietnamese Americans’ experiences of immigration, war, and adjustment to life in America. Continue reading “Gutters of Relationality and the Visibility of Vietnamese American Experiences in Bao Phi’s A Different Pond”

Announcements

2019 International Conference on Narrative – Call for papers!

The call for papers is now open for next year’s International Conference on Narrative, held at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, May 30 – June 1 2019. The conference coincides with the IABA Europe Conference in Madrid. Hopefully many scholars will attend both!

Here are all the details:

We welcome proposals for papers and panels on all aspects of narrative in any genre, period, discipline, language, and medium.

Deadline for receipt of proposals: 15 January, 2019

Proposals for Individual Papers

Please provide the title and a 300-word abstract of the paper you are proposing; your name, institutional affiliation, and email address; and a brief statement (no more than 100 words) about your work and your publications.

Proposals for Panels

Please provide a 700-word (maximum) description of the topic of the panel and of each panelist’s contribution; the title of the panel and the titles of the individual papers; and for each participant the name, institutional affiliation, email address, and a brief statement (no more than 100 words) about the person’s work and publications.

Please send proposals by email in PDF or Word to: narrative2019@gmail.com

All participants must join the International Society for the Study of Narrative. For more information on the ISSN, please visit: narrative.georgetown.edu

The conference will be held at the University of Navarra, Pamplona (Spain) from June 6-8, 2019.

Plenaries will be given by Professor Rebecca Garden and Professor Julie Rak.

Conference organizers:

Professor Rocío G. Davis (rgdavis@unav.es)
Professor Rosalía Baena (rbaena@unav.es)
Professor Anabel Martínez (abmartinezg@unav.es)
Department of Philology
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
University of Navarra
31009 Pamplona, Spain

For more details, see here.

 

Please note that conference dates have been updated from original announcement.

Essays

Crossing the Void: Uncertainty and Self-Doubt vs Finding Joy in Research

Ana Belén Martínez García talks about the difficulties of a self-funded PhD, marriage, and the road to tenure. She refers to the importance of mentorship and her turn from medieval literature to the study of human rights life narratives of young refugee women. In a beautifully reflective tone, Ana shows why this kind of life writing matters to her, both in relation to her role as an academic and beyond it.

Life as a young scholar is full of questions: “Is this the right choice for me? Am I prepared to handle the pressure of a scholar’s life?” I believe many of us start our career course with these unanswered questions in mind, and given the nature of the PhD they intrude in our thoughts every now and then. I asked myself similar questions while writing my PhD but I could not find anybody who was able to provide any answers. I therefore pushed forward on my own, but had doubts that I would have liked to express at the time. Now, I feel I ought to share them with colleagues in a similar situation. This blog series presents me with both an opportunity to voice a little bit of that story, but also a challenge – it is quite a personal story. As such, readers beware – digressions and flashbacks are inevitable. Continue reading “Crossing the Void: Uncertainty and Self-Doubt vs Finding Joy in Research”

Interviews

Deviant Women: An Interview with Lauren Butterworth and Alicia Carter

Lauren Butterworth and Alicia Carter, hosts of Deviant Women podcast, discuss collaboration, the podcasting community, and the importance of women’s stories.

You can thank us later, because we’ve found your new favourite podcast. Deviant Women is created by two Australian writers, Lauren Butterworth and Alicia Carter (pronounced A-liss-ee-ah, not A-lee-sha), who are highlighting the lives and stories of extraordinary women in history and literature using the aural medium of the podcast, which is seeing a surge in popularity as well as critical and scholarly attention.

Deviant Women is a “chumcast”—a style of podcast “in which two experts or pals riff on a theme” (McHugh 105). In this case, Alicia and Lauren are both experts and pals. Alicia is currently completing her PhD in creative writing, and Lauren is an early career researcher in literary studies and creative writing. Both of them research representations of femininity in history and stories, and they also create their own representations in their fiction.

We were lucky enough to ask Lauren and Alicia about how and why they started the podcast, their strategies for functional and fun collaboration, and what they really mean when they use the term “deviant” to talk about women’s histories and representation! Continue reading “Deviant Women: An Interview with Lauren Butterworth and Alicia Carter”

Essays

Crossing the Void: The Constructive Wilderness that Is Post-Submission

Sarah Lightman presents the experience of the void from the perspective of a woman who also happens to be a successful cartoonist and a mother. Having just submitted her PhD thesis, Sarah explains how she balances the needs of her son, her artistic creativity, and her scholarly output. 

It has been three months since I submitted my thesis, Dressing Eve and other Reparative Acts in Women’s Autobiographical Comics, to the University of Glasgow. Since then, my busyness has been tempered by the sense of a vacuum, or, rather, a space of gestation. And in this no-woman’s-land before graduation, I have a thesis written, but not published; submitted, but not viva-ed; and I am still a student, yet am not studying. But I also planned in advance for this time, with a lSarah Lightman Drawingong list of academic and non-academic projects: books to co-edit, journal articles to finish, a beginner’s yoga class to attend, contemporary galleries to visit, and a CD of children’s songs to record for our synagogue. I have done some teaching and I continue to work with Nicola Streeten, and others, on Laydeez Do Comics, the foremost comic forum in the UK now, with branches worldwide, and I host in my home an artist salon, Salon 16, for women artists. In addition, my home life makes continuous demands on me. I still have to make breakfast and a packed lunch for my three-year-old son, and keep ahead of all his plans for the upcoming term – football, ballet, and a flu injection. So, whilst the PhD was a project, a big, important, time-greedy self-development project, it was never my whole life, and its completion would not leave me bereft. Continue reading “Crossing the Void: The Constructive Wilderness that Is Post-Submission”