Beyond Literary Landscapes—Recent Reads 2022 – Literary Memoir

Beyond Literary Landscapes—Recent Reads 2022 – Literary Memoir

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.

Who

Although this column typically focuses on a literary theme or author in-depth, this week I decided to do something a bit different and focus on some of my personal recent reads; several literary memoirs that were released in 2022.

This week, I read the works of writer and radio producer Stephanie Foo and writer and poet Megan O’Rourke.

What

In particular, I read Foo’s literary memoir What My Bones Know, which considers healing from complex post-traumatic stress disorder or CPTSD.  CPTSD is differentiated from PTSD, in that individuals “have repeatedly experienced traumatic events,” as opposed to once single event.

In addition, this week, I also read O’Rourke’s Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness, a part memoir, part investigation, which considers the author’s own journey with chronic illness, as well as the medical system’s treatment of increasingly frequent illnesses, such as autoimmune disease.

Some of the topics in these works may be difficult for readers, so a content warning is included in this column.

Where

Many of these works take place throughout the United States, including New York City, Connecticut, and throughout California, as well as in Malaysia.

When

Many of these works take place during the 21st-century.

Why

These works may be of interest to readers who would like to know more about chronic illness, invisible illness, autoimmune disease, complex post-traumatic-stress disorder (CPTSD), grief, healing, and disability.

How

AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to these memoirs are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with a counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may consider ENGL 384: Writing Creative Non-Fiction, a senior-level, three-credit course, which “offers students the opportunity to write creative non-fiction and receive feedback on their writing.  Creative non-fiction, also called literary non-fiction or literary journalism, is a genre that applies to non-fiction the principles of storytelling usually associated with fiction.”  (Note that ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays and professor approval is required to register in this course.)

On the graduate level, students may be interested in WRNM 605: Creating Life Histories, a graduate level, three-credit course, which “focuses on three types of life history documentation: oral histories, memoirs, and autobiographies.”  (No prerequisites are required for this course.)  Happy reading!

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