Date of Degree

2-2018

Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor(s)

Carrie Hintz

Committee Members

Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing | Family, Life Course, and Society | Nonfiction | Personality and Social Contexts | Photography

Keywords

grief, death, photography, melancholy, childhood, mother loss

Abstract

This capstone is a multidimensional visual narrative project that incorporates heuristic methodology to illustrate complicated grief that emerged from early childhood loss. The memoir’s intention is to exemplify grief as a complex and mutable composite response to the death of my mother. One objective of this capstone is to understand melancholy, commonly associated with mental illness or symptomatic of depression, as an aesthetic emotion as well as a conduit for philosophical reflection. I use non-verbal approaches to the genre of a memoir by incorporating my photography to epitomize art as a powerful means to comprehend the totality of loss: as visual evidence. I use text in an allusive rather than discursive way, thereby shifting perceptions of loss, grief and melancholy on to the viewer. In this way, the project portrays loss as an elegiac honoring of the deceased while also enacting recovery for the bereaved. I ask the viewer to think about the photograph contrarily, paying particular attention to time. The photograph is not just an image but offers temporal shifts; the past is the viewer’s present and the present is the subject’s future.

This capstone project envisions autobiographical art as articulating the intricacies of profound loss, and that artistic narratives have a place within scholarship. I hope that my visual memoir offers insight into life writing, thanatology studies, and children’s resourceful engagement with the totality of death. The paper and project delineates the fluidity of loss and posits grief as a gift that allows for profound self-expression and the ability to share that knowledge with others. This capstone is digitalized on the internet. The completed memoir project is hosted at https://lbr2000.wixsite.com/rothrosencapstone

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