memory-craft, memory, narrative, scrapbooks, altered-books, domestic technology
The term "memory-craft" refers to arts and crafts media where personal memorabilia and journaling are combined and assembled into book form. Examples of memory-crafts include scrapbooks, art journals, and altered books. Traditionally, women have been the primary assemblers of memory-crafts, using this form as a method of autobiography and genealogical archiving. Memory-crafting is often associated with the amateur home-crafter, and while historians have long understood its cultural significance, academia has not properly considered memory-craft as a type of alternative discourse. The purpose of this study is to examine the use of memory-crafting as a non-traditional method of writing, especially among women who use it to record personal and familial narratives. Just as women are usually the primary care-takers of the family, through memory-craft they also become responsible for collecting and preserving memories, which would otherwise become lost. These memories of the everyday birthday parties, family vacations, and wedding anniversaries grow to be culturally significant over time. Through the use of domestic technology, which today includes both paper scraps and home computer systems, memory-crafts assist in the interpretation of the present and provide insight into the past. To help explore the connection between domestic technology and memory-crafts, I have organized this study into four themes: history and memory-craft; women and domestic technology; feminist literary autobiography and memoir; and feminism and hypermedia. My approach is a mixture of fictionalized personal narrative and analysis loosely modeled after Writing Machines by N. Katherine Halyes and Alias Olympia by Eunice Lipton. Just as I discuss experimental methods of writing in the form of memory-crafting, I also use an experimental writing technique which gathers from personal memories in the form of a persona named Tess and from the life of my Great Aunt Mamie Veach Dudley. Mamie's journals and letter to her sister document the memories of the Dudleys including a tragic double suicide, which still haunts the Dudleys almost 100 years later. As narrator and storyteller, my stories connect to those documented by Mamie and link the past to the present. Along with Mamie's family records, I consider other memory-related works by women during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries including Jane Austen, Anne Bronte, and Emily Dickinson, and I also examine contemporary memory-crafters such as those constructed by altered book artists Tom Phillips and Judith Margolis. Digital memory-craft is another source of support for my argument, and I look at web groups and bloggers. For example, I discuss the Wish Jar Journal, a weblog written by illustrator Keri Smith, where she journals her life and creative process and often mixes textual and visual elements in her blog posts. Writer and blogger Heather Armstrong from Dooce.com is another case study included in this project as her blog is an example of documenting familial events and memoir. Because of their fragmented formats and narrative elements, hardcopy and digitally-based memory-crafts become artifacts which combine text and visual elements to tell a story and pass on knowledge of the everyday through the mixture of text and domestic technology. Memory-craft construction does not follow conventional writing models. Therefore, this provides opportunity for experimentation by those writers who have traditionally been removed from established rhetorical writing methods.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Texts and Technology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Powley, Tammy, "Memory-craft: The Role Of Domestic Technology In Women's Journals" (2006). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 846.