'The black turnip': an invitation to Poland & "The fantasy of flight," or, escape in contemporary Jewish narrative: reading my memoir through the Jewish picaresque

Weinberg, D (2019) 'The black turnip': an invitation to Poland & "The fantasy of flight," or, escape in contemporary Jewish narrative: reading my memoir through the Jewish picaresque. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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Abstract

This thesis contains two linked parts: (1) my memoir, 'The Black Turnip'; and (2) a contextualizing essay, 'The "Fantasy Of Flight," Or, Escape In Contemporary Jewish Narrative: Reading My Memoir Through The Jewish Picaresque'. The memoir, 'The Black Turnip', is narrated by a young, naive, bumbling Jewish American woman who accepts an invitation to a theatre conference in Poland. While learning more about the country from which her grandfather escaped, she becomes obsessed with Polish theatre. Improbably, she decides to become a Polish theatre artist herself. This story is my own story, drawn from memory. In the contextualizing essay, I read 'The Black Turnip' in the company of four works that influenced my writing: one critical analysis and three narratives. I consider Miriam Udel's 'Never Better! The Modern Jewish Picaresque' (2016) and novels or memoirs by Philip Roth (1979), Jonathan Safran Foer (2002), and Roz Chast (2014). I explore how features of Miriam Udel's Jewish picaresque (i.e., escapism, avoidance of adulthood, episodic narrative, etc.) manifest in my memoir and other American Jewish narratives. Throughout this thesis, I examine the literary strategies that American Jewish writers use to portray the desire to escape from some part of their family, history, culture, or circumstances. I intend for this thesis to be read by fellow writers, especially those working with Jewish narrative, writing from diaspora cultures, or exploring avoidance in the context of cultural memory. I seek to demonstrate that a writer's escapism can be productive from a literary standpoint, and generative of renewed cultural understanding. I hope this thesis will be of interest to other writers of diaspora literature, especially those who are working with the memory of a shared, complex, and sometimes troubling historic past. This thesis may shed light on the possibilities of a picaresque sensibility for such projects.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Note:

The document attached to this record is the contextualising research section of the thesis only. It does not include the creative component, which is the novel 'The Black Turnip'.

Keywords: creative practice based, creative writing, memoirs, American Jewish literature, Polish theatre, family history, diaspora literature, Miriam Udel, Philip Roth, Roz Chast, Jonathan Safran Foer
Divisions: School of Creative Industries
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2021 17:03
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 12:28
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