Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Joel Peckham, Ph.D., Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Anna Rollins, Professor

Third Advisor

Rachael Peckham, Ph.D.


Shadow Smoke investigates the neuroscientific nature of memory and memory’s role/ authority in creative nonfiction as an illustration of how the genre lays the process of memory bare and accurately models the mind’s process of memory. The scholarship as well as body of creative works revolve around the understanding and tension of memory being a creative process which is explored through genre discussions, neuroscientific studies, and individual creative works. Shadow Smoke consists of four braided nonfiction essays and five nonfiction vignettes to form a collection on memories lost, taken, and storied framed by a critically researched introduction assessing the collection’s alignment and originality in the genre at large. Each of the four creative nonfiction essays imagines those traces of stories that are not really ours, but can be, and should be and the neuroscientific backing of storytelling culture. Although self-contained, all four essays are connected thematically through their overlapping themes and focuses on family, region (West Virginia), memory, memory loss, storytelling, identity, and trauma. Lyric in nature, but research driven at their core each creative nonfiction piece focuses on the process of finding, but more so understanding, how to engage with the remnants of the Appalachian region’s and my family’s oral traditions. As the subtitle to the collection represents the represented essays: “Remembering Sophia Jane,” “Homeplace,” “Stories of the Broom Sage,” and the title essay, “Shadow Smoke” each grapple with the research and experience of memories lost, taken, and storied. Stories and writing are not functional. They are creative, expressive, flawed, and thankfully free from the pressure to capture exactly what happened. Free to imagine what happened and what those memories, or lack thereof, can mean.


Authors, American -- Appalachian Region.

Creative nonfiction, Appalachian Region.

Memory -- Miscellanea.