"Closer to the Truth Than Any Fact": Memoir, Memory, and Jim by Jennifer Jensen Wallach

By Jennifer Jensen Wallach

Although historians often use memoirs as resource fabric, too usually they confine such utilization to the anecdotal, and there's little methodological literature in regards to the genre’s probabilities and obstacles. This research articulates an method of utilizing memoirs as tools of historic knowing. Jennifer Jensen Wallach applies those rules to a physique of memoirs approximately existence within the American South in the course of Jim Crow segregation, together with works by way of Zora Neale Hurston, Willie Morris, Lillian Smith, Henry Louis Gates Jr., William Alexander Percy, and Richard Wright.

Wallach argues that the sector of autobiography stories, that is at present ruled via literary critics, wishes a brand new theoretical framework that permits historians, too, to learn from the translation of existence writing. Her such a lot provocative declare is that, as a result of aesthetic energy of literary language, expert artistic writers are uniquely situated to trap the complexities of all over again and one other position. via strategies akin to metaphor and irony, memoirists jointly provide their readers an empathetic knowing of lifestyles throughout the period of segregation. even though those recollections endure yes similarities, it turns into transparent that the South because it was once remembered by means of every one is infrequently a similar place.

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