Taking stock of the Warehouse Cooperative School: A personal inventory of the formation of adolescent subjectivity in the context of 1970s alternative education
Constructed according the conventions of a subgenre the author defines as “formation text,” this creative non-fiction work is an experiment in form that addresses the experimental coming of age of a subject within an experimental era and within the more specific context of an experimental education. Playing off the name of a school the author attended in the 1970s, The Warehouse Cooperative School, its structure employs a series of lists, both organizationally—as a textual version of inventorying, and as metaphor for storage and retrieval of memory. As an overt challenge to the bildungsroman, and its unacknowledged influence on contemporary memoir, the work follows the writer's chronological process of composition, the inventory-in-the-making, rather than a chronology of past events, and examines those past events primarily through a series of “finds,” both current and archival. As the writer moves from one artifact to another—a doctoral dissertation composed by someone else, past student evaluations, online social networking connections, letters, photographs, objects, and physical locations, among others—memories and reflections percolate. These artifacts are not presented as representations of memory or past events; they constitute modes of discourse and so the work takes discourse rather than experience as its point of origin. ^ The composition explores a range of cultural, social, historical, psychological, educational, and personal influences and their effect on the adolescent self, but it does not assert a causal relationship between those influences and the contemporary self. At times the subject may appear diminished by context or circumstance—the social may overwhelm the personal, for example—and then may reappear as central from another viewpoint. Numerous thematic threads—time, place, weight, truth, parenting, education, sexuality, travel, memory, ethics, discipline, experimentation, scholarship, and perhaps above all storage —are woven through the text. Their related imagery and connotations surface and resurface both overtly and obliquely in/as a story, a letter, a hint, a shout, a focus, a digression. The overall effect is a purposeful fragmentation; like shards of glass reflecting alternately a broad expanse, a sliver of light, or a prism refracting in on itself. ^
Literature, American|Language, Rhetoric and Composition
"Taking stock of the Warehouse Cooperative School: A personal inventory of the formation of adolescent subjectivity in the context of 1970s alternative education"
Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access).