Date of Graduation

Fall 2009


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Margaret Weaver


creative nonfiction, family history, St. Louis, maternal legacy, learning from the past

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


After sitting around the kitchen table one night at dinner and listening to older relatives reminisce about the past, I wanted to compile the family stories and legends in story format for future generations. Using casual interview techniques and creative nonfiction storytelling, I wrote a large chronicle of stories told from the characters' perspectives. Though the collection contained many entertaining stories, at least for members of my own family, I realized that I needed to have a more directed purpose to engage readers not personally invested in our tales. Seeing a pattern emerging, I chose to make my mother, Mary, the focus of the collection by narrowing in on her troubled relationship with her own mother and how the ramifications of that tension deeply affect our relationship today. By working closely with my mother, I was able to gain very intimate knowledge of both events in the tales and the history affecting these events. Exploring this relationship ultimately has given me a great deal of insight into how my mother and grandmother's decisions have shaped the person, and more indirectly, the writer that I am today. Out of this narrative journey, not only have I grown in my skills as a writer and my understanding of creative nonfiction theory, my mother and I have grown in our understanding of one another - a need very often present in mother-daughter relationships.


© Nicole Marie Cox

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