Only By Dreaming or Writing: Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking
In her characteristically sparse yet rich prose, Didion’s book recounts the year in which she was simultaneously grieving the death of her husband of forty years, John Gregory Dunne, and coping with the hospitalization and illness of their only daughter. With the current Broadway staging of Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, featuring Vanessa Redgrave, the memoir has garnered renewed attention following its initial publication in late 2005. Halfway through the year, Didion asks: “Was it only by dreaming or writing that I could find out what I thought?” This panel seeks papers which address Didion’s text, Redgrave’s performance of it onstage, or which more broadly explore the concept of “magical thinking” as an escape from or construction of reality, at the intersection of “dreaming or writing”.
Approaches and connections could include, but are not limited to: death and dying; grief, mourning, and representation; the physiology of grief; staging and performing grief; public grieving; the stylistics of bereavement; trauma studies; crisis management; narrative theory; narrative medicine and medical humanities; memory and meaning (or the collapse of meaning); reconstruction and recovery; memoir and lifewriting. Email submissions preferred; please send 250-500 word abstracts as MSWord attachments to Dr. Clare Emily Clifford no later than September 15, 2007. Accepted panelists must be or become members of NEMLA by November 2007 in order to present at the conference.
Dr. Clare Emily Clifford
Department of English
Birmingham Southern College
900 Arkadelphia Road
Birmingham, AL 35254 Email: ccliffor[at]bsc[dot]edu
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