Date of Degree

6-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Carrie Hintz

Subject Categories

Children's and Young Adult Literature | English Language and Literature

Keywords

Memoir, Literacy, Childhood, Memory, Reading, Auto-Bibliography

Abstract

This thesis analyzes Francis Spufford’s The Child that Books Built: A Life in Reading, Jane Sullivan’s Storytime: Growing up with Books, and Margaret Mackey’s One Child Reading: My Auto-Bibliography to investigate how memoirists recall events and reread stories from childhood. I argue that memoirs of childhood reading or bibliomemoirs temporarily fuse childhood and adulthood through the act of rereading, which produces emotional responses, and writing a memoir. By rereading childhood stories, memoirists identify with their child self and express feelings comparable to those they felt upon first reading. In bibliomemoirs, passive and active reading create what I describe as a child and an adult voice upon rereading. The imaginative and transformative properties of books make it easier for memoirists to journey back to their childhood. Returning to physical and imaginative places in childhood is also a critical part of memory retrieval and rereading. As “embodied readers,” with cognitive and physical reactions to reading, our “sites of literacy,” the places where we read, help memoirists of childhood reading establish unique senses of self (Mackey 56). Inspired by William Blake’s notion of the fluidity of childhood and adulthood and by recent literary urges to reconsider categorizations for children and adult literature, this project explores the way memoirs of childhood reading can cross boundaries of age and time.

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