Elusive girlhood in adoption memoirs

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Sammanfattning

This paper begins by arguing that when the concept of girlhood is considered in relation to the presently growing body of memoirs by transnational adoptees, two central tensions emerge. On the one hand, the adoptee authors/protagonists are seen as perpetual children always being spoken for by adoptive parents, social workers, or other adults. On the other hand, the full story of their own girlhood is elusive; haunted by a past that was never to be. 

The analysis focuses on adoption from South Korea using Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom’s graphic novel Palimpsest (2016) as a case in point; reading it in relation to other Swedish, and American memoirs of transnational adoption (Jane Jeong Trenka, Katy Robinson, Soojung Jo, Nicole Chung, Astrid Trotzig, and Sofia French). The coming-of-age theme is strong in these autobiographical narratives: they are not written at the end of a long, eventful life, but at a stage when it is necessary to move back into the past in order to move into the future. Hübinette (2005) notes that Swedish YAL about Korean adoption focuses on adoptive (rather than biological) relationships and promotes a liberal and progressive view of adoption as a form of family-making well suited to the idea of a multicultural society. The memoirs challenge this view, offering a more complex picture. All center on the theme of finding identity and a sense of belonging. By putting her life story into words, the adoptee memoirist writes herself into being, and the journey to South Korea constitutes a rite of passage in which the encounter with the mother (country) enables a reconciliation with the past, and serves as a necessary step on the way to adulthood and motherhood. In addition to investigating the trope of adoption as enabling independence and hybridization (Novy 2001), the paper focuses on representations of an alternative past, and the persistent need to fill in the gaps about one’s childhood, which for many of the writers amount to a yearning for memories that were never formed. 

OriginalspråkEngelska
StatusPublicerad - 2020
EvenemangConceptions of Girlhood Now and Then: "Girls' Literature" and Beyond, Linnaeus University, Sweden, October 6-8, 2020. -
Varaktighet: 1980-jan-01 → …

Konferens

KonferensConceptions of Girlhood Now and Then: "Girls' Literature" and Beyond, Linnaeus University, Sweden, October 6-8, 2020.
Period80-01-01 → …

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  • Humaniora och konst (6)

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