2016FallSymposiumURCreativityEngagement has ended
Tuesday, December 6 • 8:20am - 8:40am
“Some Pride Of Place”: Analyzing Memoirist Responsibility And Place Perception Through The Lens Of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle

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Remaining on the New York Times bestseller list for over six years, Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle has been read by millions across the nation and globe since its publication in 2005. Keeping this widespread popularity in mind, the memoir’s depiction of the small town of Welch, West Virginia comes to be responsible for a large majority of the public perception of Welch, a town primarily hidden from public consciousness until the publication of Walls’ book. This project provides a close reading of Walls’ language and use of detail surrounding Welch, and examines what effect her description has on forming the perception of Welch in the minds of her readers. By placing Walls’ personal experience and description of Welch within the context of the town as it existed then, and as it stands today, a pathway is then opened to explore the positive and negative effects of her decision to display the town in the way that she does, particularly to such a vast readership. Incorporating Welch’s reaction to the text, scholarship about small town identities, and a historical and contextual analysis of the representation of Appalachia in literature, this project engages in discussion around the responsibilities and agency a memoirist has when establishing public perception of place, particularly smaller, vulnerable places, and how this perception comes to negatively or positively impact town identity.

Tuesday December 6, 2016 8:20am - 8:40am
232 Karpen Hall

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