So Many Memoirs: What's Behind The Genre's Boom

May 1, 2014

Memoirs are everywhere. It seems natural that we’ve always been drawn to reading about other people’s lives. But where does this appeal come from, and why does it seem that the popularity of memoirs has exploded in recent years?

Dartmouth College professor Irene Kacandes will be discussing the appeal of the memoir in a lecture entitled The Memoir Boom on May 7 at the Rutland Free Library. The lecture is part of the Vermont Humanities Council's First Wednesdays series.

Kacandes says that while that history has seen several spikes in memoir writing, the current boom dates back to the 1990s, when "nobodies became somebodies" with the success of memoirs such as Girl Interrupted, Angela's Ashes and Tuesday's With Morrie.

The rise of graphic novels such as Alison Bechdel's Fun Home also helped fuel the medium.

Kacandes says the current popularity of storytelling with programs such as The Moth is related to the success of the memoir form.

She also sees a correlation to social media forums, which allow virtually anyone to become a "mini-celebrity" among his or her followers.