SURF

Lisa Levin

Fireworks, Then My City is Ashes: Poems about World War II

Part creative writing, part auto-ethnography, part literary analysis — my project examines how war blurs distinctions between national and individual identity, the ways in which this complicates family bonds, and how both of these issues haunt future generations. My research focuses on the memoir as a genre of historical narrative, specifically of the Jewish diaspora and the Japanese experience in the Second World War and its aftermath. My goal is to relate these seemingly disparate stories to one another, and to ultimately bridge both sides of my own Jewish-American and Japanese family history. I am traveling across the world this summer; from California through New York City to Poland, France, and finally, Japan. I will create an original auto-ethnographic memoir as a series of poems based on my experiences meeting my relatives and immersing myself in the surroundings that affected them during and after the war.

Message to Sponsor

I am thrilled to have this unique opportunity to dedicate a summer to both my academic and creative work, and to find a way to connect the two disciplines. The SURF grant will allow me to complete the foundational research for my Comparative Literature senior thesis. My paper will contribute to the ongoing conversation about what constitutes a memoir, and where the genre figures in the domains of history and literary art. My own memoir will build on what I discover from research, and will give voice to my familys experiences including those of my grandmother who is 82, does not speak English, and has never had her stories recorded.
  • Major: Comparative Literature, Music, French, Creative Writing (minor)
  • Sponsor: Anselm Fund
  • Mentor: Robert Haas, English