Frankel, Matthew [faculty advisor, Department of English]




non-fiction; culture; literature


Within the past several years, best-seller lists have witnessed a growth in popularity of memoirs or creative non-fiction writing. Being an avid bookstore wanderer, I noticed this influx and wondered about the reasons behind it. What is so appealing about this genre to readers, and why do people write these kinds of books? What sort of mental processes within the author’s mind are expressed on the page, and how do those processes reflect or interact with the reader? Is it all merely cathartic writing/reading? Or is it a mode of solidifying one’s identity and place in the world, both for the writer and the reader? Midnight Dawning is a non-fiction collection that combines multiple genres, specifically poetry, vignettes or prose and journalistic writing. I focused on my experiences growing up in an Italian dominated neighborhood and the alienation I felt, having strongly identified with my Swedish heritage. Along with interpreting and analyzing these experiences and how they shaped my attitudes and views, I researched Swedish traditions and culture, including the Swedish community in RI. I used my affiliations with cultural organizations and groups to conduct interviews and research information, also using library and Internet resources. The overall aim of the project is to attempt a form of creative writing I haven’t explored before, and to study multiple genres by actively participating in them. Regarding non-fiction specifically I want to study how non-fiction writing acts as a structuring of experience or reflection that the audience experiences as the writer re-experiences it, to study my own development through conflict and personal experience, and offer new insight into Swedish culture and the ethnic community in Rhode Island.