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Title: Identifying and exploring the particular ethical, narrative and aesthetic pressures on the production of life writing by siblings bereaved by suicide
Author: Limburg, Joanne
ISNI:       0000 0004 6349 6031
Awarding Body: Kingston University
Current Institution: Kingston University
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis includes a creative project and a critical essay. The creative project takes the form of a piece of autobiographical life writing, Small Pieces: A Book of Lamentations, about the suicide of my brother and the loss of my mother to cancer. Its structure is informed by trauma theory and inspired by Jewish religious texts. In the critical essay, I survey the life writing by siblings bereaved by suicide. There are few such texts. Given the near-universality of the sibling relationship, and the significance of suicide as a public health issue, I query why this should be so. I identify three forces which may inhibit such writing: the cultural neglect of the sibling relationship, the taboos surrounding suicide and the unassimilable nature of traumatic experiences. I also identify forces which might compel me and others to write: the need to reaffirm and explore the continuing bond with the lost sibling; the imperative sense of an 'appointment to witness' experienced by traumatised subjects. I argue that suicide bereavement further complicates this picture, infusing the sibling relationship with grief and anger. It prompts the survivor to search for answers and to attempt to address their trauma through a legal paradigm of healing, which offers but cannot deliver closure. The literary paradigm offers an alternative. I explore these issues further in relation to texts by two other bereaved siblings. Using Object Relations theory, I consider suicide survival and siblinghood with reference to Hattie Gordon's 'The Café after the Pub after the Funeral'. Trauma and the legal and literary paradigms of healing are discussed in relation to Jill Bialosky's 'History of a Suicide: My Sister's Unfinished Life'. I hope that by examining life-writing texts from this unique perspective, informed by my own experience as a writer and bereaved sibling, and by my knowledge of Object-Relations theory, I have made an original contribution to the field of life-writing studies. I conclude that this interdisciplinary approach yields useful insights, and could be applied further.
Supervisor: Jensen, Meg Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English language and literature