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Title: The autobiographical pact and the selection of self in memoir
Author: Palmer, Andrew William
ISNI:       0000 0004 6349 2401
Awarding Body: University of Lincoln
Current Institution: University of Lincoln
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis examines the influence of spiritual conversion narratives on autobiography and the novel. It traces a lineage from Augustine, to Bunyan, Rousseau, early novels of the eighteenth century, bildungsromans of the nineteenth century, and on to the modern memoir of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It argues that spiritual autobiography was foundational to these other literary genres and that its proto-psychological processes can be seen as having influenced self-life writing from one of its earliest applications with Augustine right through to the present day. It also argues that, even though the classics of spiritual autobiography were seminal texts with original thought and style that this started to be eroded with the more formulaic Puritan texts and that spiritual conversion narratives of the last two centuries have fallen out of favour and the narrative of conversion has become the mainstay of more compelling memoirs of addiction and recovery. In comparing the styles of the classics of spiritual autobiography with contemporary spiritual conversion narratives, it is argued that the latter are formulaic and lack a deep analysis of the self and its relationship to the divine. They rely on a set structure and suggest that the conversion episode is a completion of their faith, unlike the classics that show a continual process of change. It is also argued that modern spiritual conversion narratives should follow the example of the novel as a basis for creating a compelling story with a vibrant narrative if they are ever to be read by the mainstream again. Integral to this is a rigorous selection process of the material to be included in the narrative; a process that will produce a stronger and more unique narrative arc. Drowning, the memoir written as part of this thesis, is a spiritual conversion narrative taking influence from the classics with regard to the psychological processes of analysing the self and the conversion experience. It departs from the contemporary conversion narratives, eschewing their typical shape and prosaic style and instead borrows from the narrative arc, style and voice of the novel in order to create an immersive reading experience. Drowning presents the conversion experience as the first step of spiritual rejuvenation and leaves the narrative open-ended to allow the reader to formulate their own understanding of the events and how they affect their understanding of spiritual epiphany.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Q323 English Literature by topic