Gila Ashtor and Emily Rapp Black - "Aural History" and "Sanctuary"

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Gila Ashtor and Emily Rapp Black

Gila Ashtor and Emily Rapp Black will discuss Aural History and Sanctuary.

Presented in partnership with punctum books

Virtual event

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About Aural HistoryAural History is an anti-memoir memoir of encountering devastating grief that uses experimental storytelling to recreate the winding, fractured path of loss and transformation. Written by a thirty-something psychotherapist and queer theorist, Aural History is structured as a sequence of three sections that each use different narrative styles to represent a distinctive stage in the protagonist’s evolving relationship to trauma. Aural History explores how a cascade of self-dissolving losses crisscrosses a girl’s coming of age. Through lyric prose, the first section follows a precocious tomboy whose fierce attachment to her father forces her, when he dies and she is twelve years old, to run the family bakery business, raise a delinquent younger brother, and take care of a destructive, volatile mother. In part two, scenes narrated in the third person illustrate a high-achieving high school student who is articulate and in control except for bouts of sudden and inchoate attractions, the first of which is to her severe and coaxing English teacher. The third story tells of her relation with a riveting, world-famous professor, interspersed with a tragic-comic series of dialogues between the protagonist and a cast of diverse psychotherapists as she, now twenty-five years old and living in New York City, undertakes an odyssey to understand why true self-knowledge remains elusive and her real feelings, choked and incomplete.

About Gila Ashtor: Gila Ashtor, PhD, LP is a critical theorist, psychoanalyst and writer. She teaches at Columbia University and is in private practice in New York City. She is the author of an experimental memoir, Aural History (Punctum, 2020), a work of academic criticism, Homo Psyche: On Queer Theory and Erotophobia (Fordham UP, 2021), and a book of clinical theory, Exigent Psychoanalysis: The Interventions of Jean Laplanche (Routledge, 2021). She trained at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR) in New York City and is an editor at Studies in Gender and Sexuality. Her primary areas of academic and clinical expertise are trauma and grief, affective disorders, identity, and sexuality.

About Sanctuary“Congratulations on the resurrection of your life,” a colleague wrote to Emily Rapp Black when she announced the birth of her second child. The line made Rapp Black pause. Her first child, a boy named Ronan, had died from Tay-Sachs disease before he turned three years old, an experience she wrote about in her second book, The Still Point of the Turning World. Since that time, her life had changed utterly: She left the marriage that fractured under the terrible weight of her son’s illness, got remarried to a man who she fell in love with while her son was dying, had a flourishing career, and gave birth to a healthy baby girl. But she rejected the idea that she was leaving her old life behind—that she had, in the manner of the mythical phoenix, risen from the ashes and been reborn into a new story, when she still carried so much of her old story with her. More to the point, she wanted to carry it with her. Everyone she met told her she was resilient, strong, courageous in ways they didn’t think they could be. But what did those words mean, really? This book is an attempt to unpack the various notions of resilience that we carry as a culture. Drawing on contemporary psychology, neurology, etymology, literature, art, and self-help, Emily Rapp Black shows how we need a more complex understanding of this concept when applied to stories of loss and healing and overcoming the odds, knowing that we may be asked to rebuild and reimagine our lives at any moment, and often when we least expect it. Interwoven with lyrical, unforgettable personal vignettes from her life as a mother, wife, daughter, friend, and teacher, Rapp Black creates a stunning tapestry that is full of wisdom and insight.

About Emily Rapp Black: Emily Rapp Black is the best-selling author of Poster Child: A Memoir (BloomsburyUSA) and The Still Point of the Turning World (Penguin Press), Sanctuary (Random House), and Frida Kahlo and My Left Leg (Nottinghill Editions/New York Review of Books). A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, she is the recipient of the Rona Jaffe Award, a Fulbright scholarship, and a Guggenheim fellowship, she is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California-Riverside and in the UCR School of Medicine.

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