Date of Degree

6-2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Biography and Memoir

Advisor

Bridgett M. Davis

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing | Dance | Nonfiction

Keywords

Dance, Chronic Illness, Beauty, Legacy, Control

Abstract

This collection of three interconnected personal essays draws from the genres of memoir and biography to answer the following question: What are the physical, mental, and emotional repercussions of covering up hardship and sickness with a facade of normalcy and perfection? Overlaid by themes of chronic illness, dance, beauty, and control, this project chronicles my own personal battle against this tendency. The first essay explores the complexities of the year and a half I spent working as a ghostwriter for Larry Rhodes, an elderly dancer attempting to rewrite his history in the wake of societal change. The second piece follows my journey learning to incorporate chronic illness—namely Crohn’s disease and inflammatory arthritis—into my quotidian life from childhood on. And the final essay investigates my sense of identification with my grandmother, Edith Lansky, whose life was characterized by a desire to repress pain and escape into art and beauty. Presented together, these subjects provide a backdrop for a deeply relatable memoir in essays revealing the unavoidable messiness of the human condition.

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