"Belonging To An Outlaw Tribe”: Identifying With Difference In Three Autobiographies By Bechdel, Anzaldúa And Allison

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2019-05-01

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Connolly, Katelyn Marie

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My thesis centers around the autobiographies and autobiographical fiction of American authors from underrepresented or marginalized communities. I am working with three texts, each of which defies traditional norms of the autobiographical genre, deviating in form, structure, language and perspective. This project seeks to establish how the integration of such texts into the American literary and historical canons can function as a tool in the process of identity construction for those who deviate from the white, male, heterosexual identity that dominates traditional American storytelling. In Fun Home, the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, the author opens new terrains of memory in the gaps between text and image. Gloria Anzaldúa depicts the landscape and emotions of dual culture in Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, a hybrid text of English and Spanish, prose and poetry. Finally, Bastard Out of Carolina,by Dorothy Allison, demonstrates the power of “telling lies” in an autobiography, as a method of working through the effects of trauma. The significance of my inquiry lies in its social-justice and educational implications, and I strive towards more equitable representation in the academy and American schools, as well as the wider philosophical aim of advocating for every individual’s agency in telling their own story.

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