Autobiography as myth of origin
The following PhD thesis will explore the connection between autobiography and myth of origin: On the one hand, I am concerned with the ways in which women autobiographers rewrite classical myths of origin; on the other hand, I contend that autobiography itself is a myth of origin, a recreation of the forces that created the narrator. Throughout this thesis, I will develop two main themes: the first is the use of myth as a framework for autobiographical writing. This is possible because of myth's characteristic double focus on the universal and on the particular version, the historical context. Myth allows feminist autobiographers to connect themselves to universal truths from which they are barred by patriarchal tradition and to carve out their own, highly personal version. The second theme is that the autobiographers depict the origin as the core of the self and utterly Other. First, the narrator has to rely on the stories of other people, or a 'family memory'. Second, the past can be seen as connected to or leaving traces in the present; at the same time, it can be completely Other and incompehensible. Third, the autobiographical I is often cut off from her origins, and a constructive return that integrates the past and the present self is only possible through a deliberate act of mythmaking: It is mythmaking and storytelling that provides a connection between self and Other. I hope to make a contribution to feminist theory of autobiography as well as to feminist theory. Reading autobiography as myth of origin approaches the persistent problem of the relationship between the historical author and the autobiographical self. Moreover, I will explore the the specific relation between women and origins, and address the necessity for feminist theory to develop a framework where self and Other are intimately connected.