Feminist nostalgia for healing and strength : mnemonic sites and signs in Bronwen Wallace's poetry and prose

Sniderman, W. (Wendy) (1996) Feminist nostalgia for healing and strength : mnemonic sites and signs in Bronwen Wallace's poetry and prose. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

From her earliest published poems in the early 1980's to her final posthumous works of short stories and prose poems in the early 1990's, the remembered past is a constant undercurrent throughout Bronwen Wallace's work. While some might criticize Wallace for including nostalgic sentiments in her lyrical, mnemonic constructions of history, Wallace recovers and reconstructs a home of and for women precisely from her decidedly feminist nostalgia. Nostalgic reminiscence is also the key to the door of the subconscious, allowing Wallace to explore the complex remembered past as a means towards understanding identity. As Wallace finds when constructing an historical home in her earlier work, subjectivity is built upon similarly tenuous ground in her later work. -- Mnemonically rich sites or signs often prompt one to recall the past. Wallace uses photographic imagery as a powerful site for nostalgic sentiments. Photographs at once invite recollection and ensure regret. The time and place presented in a photograph discloses as much as it conceals, by presenting a sanctioned, picture-worthy version of the past that does not always coincide with Wallace's memories or reveal the information she needs to recover a personally valid, female ancestry. As well, the photograph functions as a potent sign for defining subjectivity, as the self can always be explained and proven by the tenuous testimony photographs provide. -- Finally, the scar surfaces as site for nostalgia in Wallace's later writing. As a totem from the past, a scar ensures memory; as a site of injury and healing, it also ensures regret. As such, Wallace's use of scar imagery speaks clearly to a regret particularly enjoined upon women who have survived domestic violence. Bronwen Wallace uses the scar as an emblem for recovery and strength upon a damaged, physical site. Thus, Wallace's feminist nostalgia does not function as a prescription for the future, but rather as a means towards change and possibility, where once only limitation prevailed.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7087
Item ID: 7087
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 126-130.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1996
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Wallace, Bronwen, 1945-1989--Criticism and interpretation; Nostalgia in literature; Feminist poetry--History and criticism

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