Both Broken and joined: Subjectivity and the lyric essay

Paul HETHERINGTON, Rachel Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issue

Abstract

The lyric essay is a protean form that allows writers to evoke and explore aspects of personal memory and individual subjective experience with great immediacy, while also addressing more general and abstract ideas. The use of the term ‘lyric essay’ has been questioned but still successfully serves the purpose of suggesting the kind of work that proceeds not as a conventional essay does – through logical argument – but rather through the juxtaposition of sometimes contradictory tropes, often presented as fragmentary, suggestive and even ‘poetic’. Such essays render an impression of the happenstance and provisionality of lived experience. They raise questions about the coherence (or otherwise) of the multiple perspectives informing an individual’s subjectivity.
The authors’ practice-led Mosaics project examines the lyric essay’s multiplicity of viewpoints, fragmentation and faceted nature through investigating the mosaic-like nature of its form and content, along with the extent to which such mosaic-like patterning may make the lyric essay especially well suited to the rendering of particularised subjective experience. In doing so the project references the example of Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí in his work on the Palau Guell and Parc Guell (with Joseph Jujol), where he incorporated fragmented and broken tile and stone pieces into his mosaics. Such mosaics, in creating extensive and ever-evolving patterns, may be seen as closely analogous to the lyric essay’s own expressive patternings and techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalTEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses
Volume39
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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