From Soil to Soul: A Narrative Exploration of Family, Place, and Identity




Terry, Isabelle

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In this Creative Nonfiction thesis, I explore four family members' experiences in their hometowns to understand how their experience in a place contributed to their identity formation. The thesis begins by exploring identity and self, socialization, and creative nonfiction place stories, all of which serve as my work's theoretical underpinnings. I situate discussions of identity within Erik Erikson’s model of psychosocial development. I then move to the story of my mother’s life growing up in Hays, Kansas, my paternal grandmother’s life growing up in Galesville, Wisconsin, my paternal grandfather’s life growing up in Thomastown, Mississippi, and my father’s life growing up in McAllen Texas. Each chapter begins by establishing a sense of what the place is like, followed by the experiences of the individual. Each chapter ends with a reflection of how the person’s experience in a place shaped an aspect of their identity. I end with a discussion of Erikson’s theory of identity crises and why people may decide to leave or stay in the place they were raised.



Creative Nonfiction, Place, Identity, Self, Socialization, Place Story, Erik Erikson, Psychosocial Development, Hays Kansas, Galesville Wisconsin, Thomastown Mississippi, McAllen Texas