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2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium-Francesca Fontana

Francesca Fontana “Seeking Truth through Investigative Memoir”
Abstract
My project seeks to define the emerging genre of the investigative memoir – memoirs, like David Carr’s The Night of The Gun, that use journalistic methods to report out one’s life and tell one’s story. In order to do so, I compare and contrast genres of memoir and autobiography with literary and narrative journalism, then analyze instances in which the genres have been blended in journalists writing memoir. I also analyze how each genre defines truth and how their respective authors set out to discover the truth in different ways. After conducting my research, I will use what I have learned to write a book proposal for my own investigative memoir about my father’s secret criminal past in Chicago, using public records, archives and interviews to report out formative events of my childhood. The purpose of this research is to examine and analyze the intersection of memoir and narrative journalism and each genre’s search for “truth.” This combination of genres has been scarcely discussed by scholars in my preliminary research thus far. Few attempts have been made to reconcile the two genre’s different definitions of truth – whether one person’s perception of an event is truer than another’s, and how authors can use public records and interviews to add credibility to their “unreliable narration” and get closer to unbiased fact.

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