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Communicating Pregnancy Loss

Narrative as a Method for Change


Rachel Silverman and Jay Baglia

This book is the Winner of the OSCLG Outstanding Book Award

The loss of a desired pregnancy or the inability to experience pregnancy are intensely personal phenomena; these losses are also, in our culture at least, extremely private. Communicating Pregnancy Loss is a collection of first-person narratives about the experience of pregnancy loss. Although there is no shortage of books that help prospective parents cope with an unintended pregnancy loss or ‘survive’ infertility, most of these books are authored by physicians or therapists and address pregnancy loss through the language of guidance. This book is different. It is the first of its kind because the contributors (primarily communication scholars but also healthcare personnel and other scholars from the social sciences) tell their story of loss in their own words, offering a diverse collection of narratives that span experience and identity. The authors employ various feminist theories, narrative theories, and performance theories as well as other well-known communication theories and concepts. The book’s narrative approach to writing about and thereby understanding pregnancy loss offers readers a method for changing the way pregnancy loss is understood personally, culturally, and politically.
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9. Hidden in Plain Sight: Mystoriography, MelancholicMourning, and the Poetics of [My Pregnancy] Loss


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The object that is “invested” with vision will be an object in which she is deeply invested. (Schneider, 1997, p. 184)

In this chapter, in the fashion of my previous work (Kennerly, 2002, 2008, 2009), I use the mystory, a method of research and writing that Denzin situated in/as “a genre within ethnography” (1997, p. 91) that presents partial explanations of cultural phenomenon which includes and interrogates the standpoint of the researcher in/as a member of the culture under investigation. Borrowing from Ulmer’s (1989) “mystory” experiment (p. 209), which shows us “how to articulate the private, public, and learned spheres of culture” (p. 118), and Bowman and Bowman’s “Performing the Mystory,” which compares the neologism mystory with a similar neologism, herstory, which brings to light “the collective story of women suppressed in patriarchal history” (2002, p. 164), I take up the challenge to put into conversation a sampling of my field research, writing, and performance with and about roadside shrines to take a closer look at my personal investment in the search for the meaning of these shrines.

The patterning of this conversation is likened to Benjamin’s “constellation of ideas” (in Schleifer, 2009, pp. 314–315), “one that avoids the seamless and finalized representation of death and memory and is, following Sontag (2003) an appropriate and ethical response to the textual and visual images representing, among other things, the suffering of singular and collective others” (Kennerly, 2009, p....

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