By Richard Martin

ISBN-10: 0870997491

ISBN-13: 9780870997495

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When we consider the motion picture, still other genres emerge. At one end of a continuum is the home movie, made more or less spontaneously on a very low budget and with low production values, exclusively for private consumption—at least, initially. If preserved, such footage is later available for inclusion in documentary films intended for public consumption. Many such films combine vintage footage with new footage—ideally made with the subjects’ knowledge and informed consent (which may not be true of the original footage).

Think of all the anecdotes you have told and heard over the course of your life: you’ve been producing and consuming life narrative since well before you entered school! So unlike most literary or artistic genres, memoir is a particular, highly developed form of a very broad-based human activity: the narration of our real lives. This means that it is, or has the potential to be, by far the most inclusive and democratic of genres. It is so because, again, its roots are not literary. Memoir’s sources, then, are in the ways in which ordinary people represent their lives: in spontaneous, unique oral narratives; in anecdotes that are not only told but retold as signature stories; in personal stories that may be passed down as family or institutional lore, and so on.

Like it or not, we are the subjects of dossiers not of our own making. Life narrative, then, comprehends all sorts of records of our lives. Most of these are utilitarian and instrumental; they serve practical, rather than expressive or aesthetic, purposes. Many of them are not in our control. ) Memoir has lots of other relatives in the extended family of life writing, as well. The term has been retroactively applied to old modes of visual representation, like portraiture, whether painted, sculpted, or photographic.

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Bloom by Richard Martin


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