Browse Exhibits (4 total)

Identity Formation

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This exhibit explores two aspects of identity formation--literary identity and the expression of writerly identity. Literary identity is signaled through character and plot development and how readers negotiate interpretations of the text. In drafted material and letters between Cormier and his readers, we see such grapplings with how characters' identities unfold. In Cormier's universe, what is deemed appropriate and moral in society is often at odds with the realities of his antagonists, which serves to show, in sharp relief, what we label as monstrous and shameful.

While his characters are frequently morally dubious, Cormier's motives to continually write seems to arise from making genuine emotional connections with characters, stories, and even readers. In this collection, we see Cormier's struggles to persistently write early in his career and his instance on representing authors as a living person. Students' conversations with Cormier, whether via speakerphone interview or letter exchanges, also reveal their curiosity about their own potential writing identities through their interest in Cormier's life and sources of inspiration, particularly surrounding autobiographical writing and the craft of writing.

Mythology of Childhood

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The "Mythology of Childhood" exhibit addresses the complexity of the movement between the state of innocence and the fraught development of the child into an adult via adolescence. In this exhibit are artifacts that address both the nostalgia around the innocence, purity, and beauty of childhood and its inevitable necessary disruption. This theme is expressed, here, through the adolescent moment of coming of age, which can be perceived as  violence upon or corruption of the child as easily as it can be considered an awakening -- sexually, psychologically, and socially -- towards aduldhood. In these artifacts, and in much of Cormier's fiction, the rites de passage, while organized, aim toward nefarious ends  as oppored to those of many deep culture societies that support their budding adolescents toward full and productive adulthood. 


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Parents can be benevolent, protective, and involved; or they can be controlling, possessive, or absent. This exhibit includes representations and explorations of parenting from Cormier's fiction and nonfiction work by Cormier and others, including some artifacts by students. Most of the pieces in this exhibit are heartwarming or even nostalgic nonfiction works where Cormier explores his parenting experience as his children grow up children and the father-child relationship necessarily shifts. The fictional pieces in this collection show less favorable parenting strategies of distant or inappropriate parents. The letters from Cormier, in this section of the exhibit, are responses to his youthful readers and show him as a sort of parent-figure (in the best sense of the word) to those readers.

Women and Feminism

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In "Women and Feminism" we consider artifacts that provoke us to consider how gender constructs raise moral and social questions. Gendered language, itself, is reflective of those constructs and it may be a useful exercise to consider the degree to which any one of us is a person of his or her time. The swing between men's or society's attitudes of chivalry and misogyny, or between women's degrees of dependence and independence and the language and imagery each conjures is a worthwhile contemplation.