Date of Award

5-11-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

English Language, Literature, and Creative Writing

First Advisor

Markoic, Nicole

Rights

CC-BY-NC-ND

Abstract

ow do we create narratives out of the material of our lives? What happens when these narratives are challenged? What hold does the past have on us? Can we ever rely on the narratives we construct? These are the questions which drive Everything Begins as a Memory, and the stories that comprise this collection offer eight different ways of dealing with them. All set in Halifax Nova Scotia and the surrounding rural communities, these loosely interconnected stories are meditations on place and memory. In the course of each story a character is forced to come to terms with the meaning of some aspect of their past, and to reconstruct the narrative they have created for themselves. The process of their reconstruction is a form of epiphany in each case. I propose thinking about the literary epiphany through the ideas of three thinkers who diverge in many ways, but whose thoughts influence and impact my short stories. Specifically, I take on the concept of experience, borrowed from 20th century German phenomenologist, Hans Georg Gadamer, I invoke Freud's concept of the uncanny, and I turn to literary theorist, Svetlana Boym for her work on nostalgia. In the course of these stories and the accompanying critical essay I am interested in reviving the literary epiphany as a mode of expression and literary exegesis. To do so, I privilege a phenomenological approach to literature, considering the experience of the characters to be of paramount importance. I argue that tracing the character’s arc of self-understanding, or the failure thereof, is an essential structuring principle in short fiction.

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