Marginalia as Autobiography: My Mother’s Confirmation Bible


From Apr 19, 2011

Please click on the image above to zoom in and read the slide.

I think something that many people find troubling about the genre of autobiography is that despite claiming to have some large share of “the truth” it can often seem over-constructed, over-analytical, and inauthentic. That is why the subject of marginalia fascinates me, for there is nothing less constructed, less analytic and more authentic than the realization of a sudden impulse to write a thought down on the published page. Marginalia exists, as Edgar Allen Poe wrote in 1844, because “the reader wishes to unburden itself of a thought” that relates to what he or she is currently reading. The way marginalia is manufactured in the mind is uncomplicated; the reading goes in through the eyes and the interpretation comes quickly out through the fingers. Marginalia emerges outside of the factory of the mind, which often forces all thoughts to align themselves in a congruous manner. Marginalia, although usually created for specific, pragmatic purposes—such as taking notes in class—is also always accidentally autobiographical…

Please click here to view my the entire introduction to my project as well as the accompanying website, which includes an introduction to marginalia, marginalia as autobiography, and marginalia as autobiography in my mother’s confirmation bible.

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