Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Sarah Heidt


In considering the past, émigré life writers take on a version of the broader challenge of reconstructing memory heightened by the inaccessibility of the spaces that defined their lives before emigration.In Masha Gessen’s Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler’s War and Stalin’s Peace (2004), Elena Lappin’s What Language do I Dream In?: A Memoir(2017), and Julia Alekseyeva’s Soviet Daughter: A Graphic Revolution(2017), pre-existing familial artifacts, particularly works of life writingand images, form a basis for new texts that depict both events within the authors’ experience and outside of the scope of their lifetime. This combinationof depictions of the self with depictions of other subjects allows for the representation of both sides of the divide of emigration within one text. In creating works of life writing which merge records of memory and acts of imagination, Gessen,Lappin, and Alekseyeva define new spacesin which dimensions of the émigréexperience are represented outside of the geographic and temporal realities of the lived experience of exile, forming connections both to the specific experiences of the authors and to the broader experiences of displacement and nostalgia.

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