Katra Byram’s current research centers around two projects. The first is a book that surveys novels and memoirs about mothers and grandmothers of the World War II generation to investigate how gender inflects cultural memory. The book argues that some of the changes in memory practice that are usually attributed to generational shifts are actually produced by new patterns of gendered memory. It also demonstrates the relationship between gender and the different genres associated with postwar cultural memory. A recent article showing that mother books from the 1970s and 1980s already exhibit many of the features usually associated with family novels from around 2000 can be found here.
The second project explores how ecological crisis is affecting our ideas about what it means to be a human self and the kinds of stories we tell about these selves. In particular, it asks whether and how eighteenth– and nineteenth-century concepts and narrative forms—from scientific and natural collections to the Bildungsroman—are relevant to the new stories about human existence that people are telling today. Click here for a recent article on the way that tiny-house blogs adapt the tradition of the coming-of-age novel.