One in the Head: A White Trash Memoir.
This dissertation consists of two parts: One in the
Head: A White Trash Memoir, a spiritual memoir, and a scholarly
article entitled “The Haunting of Days: The Use of Temporal Models
in William Kennedy’s Ironweed.” The memoir, One in the Head, offers
a study of spiritual conversion rooted in the socio-cultural
particularities of lower class America, and a detailed examination
of the racial and class politics that accompanies social ascension.
A range of characters – including a violent teenage criminal who
plays the protagonist, a non-practicing homosexual politician and
mystic, a lower-class homophobic mathematical genius, the
schizophrenic sister and itinerant father of the protagonist, and a
single mother in pursuit of the perfect man – navigate the trials
and tribulations that arise from dysfunctional families, poverty,
the conflict between the individual experience of spirituality and
particular religious traditions, and the myriad social scripts of
masculinity and femininity. Through first person narration, the
author explores these subjects through the concept of demonic
possession in both metaphorical and literal elaborations, including
the influence of words, stories, and other personalities. Combining
the tropes and techniques of magical realism with the genre
trappings of memoir, the book’s disparate sections are tied
together through a progression through the stages of the mystical
journey: awakening, the dark night of the soul, purgation,
illumination, and unity. While tracing these stages, the book also
complicates them via continuously drawing alternately on sacred and
secular temporal models and materialist and ideational realities.
The critical section entitled “The Haunting of Days: The Use of
Temporal Models in William Kennedy’s Ironweed,” is connected to the
memoir by virtue of the fact that it explores a similar tension
between the material and spiritual realms. The article investigates
the use of both sacred and secular models of temporality in
contemporary fiction in general, and William Kennedy’s Ironweed in
particular. After examining the political consequences of
materialist linear, archetypal cyclical, and qualitative rhythmic
models of time, and their associated worldviews – evident in
fantastic and realist modes of literature, the author examines how
rhythmic time offers a psychologically more accurate and
existentially more useful model of both linearity and cyclicity.
The author concludes that a rhythmic model of time successfully
overcomes the subordination of the individual body to cosmic
archetypes, which is an inescapable consequence of the cyclical
model of time, as well as the loss of psychological meaning and the
depiction of the individual body as an ever-decaying object, which
arises from a materialist linear model of time. The author argues
that through this elaboration of these other models of time,
rhythmic time is a model that embraces both the material and
spiritual worlds, and makes room for the cohabitation of both
ideational and materialist philosophies.
Advisors/Committee Members: Griffith, Michael (Committee Chair).
to Zotero / EndNote / Reference
APA (6th Edition):
Branscum, J. (2010). One in the Head: A White Trash Memoir. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Cincinnati. Retrieved from http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=ucin1281989306
Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):
Branscum, John. “One in the Head: A White Trash Memoir.” 2010. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Cincinnati. Accessed December 12, 2019.
MLA Handbook (7th Edition):
Branscum, John. “One in the Head: A White Trash Memoir.” 2010. Web. 12 Dec 2019.
Branscum J. One in the Head: A White Trash Memoir. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Cincinnati; 2010. [cited 2019 Dec 12].
Available from: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=ucin1281989306.
Council of Science Editors:
Branscum J. One in the Head: A White Trash Memoir. [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of Cincinnati; 2010. Available from: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=ucin1281989306