Naomi Banks writes:
I am due to present a paper at the ‘Poetry and Melancholia‘ conference this July in Stirling. My contribution to this conference is based on a section of my PhD thesis on Northern Irish Elegy. Elegy can be basically defined as the poetry of mourning, or more poetically, ‘the literary site of collision between life and death’. The conference paper is focused on some poems by Medbh McGuckian which I have classified as pre-emptive elegies, in that they deal with the anticipated deaths of the poet’s parents, written as they were dying.
As far as I know, proleptic grief is not usually covered in literary theories of mourning. Some of the few articles that I have found on the topic deal with prose fiction rather than poetry. Most of the work that has been done on elegy is largely informed by psychoanalysis, and often harks back to Freud’s essay ‘Mourning and Melancholia’. This was written nearly 100 years ago! I am looking for some input from anyone from a psychological, counselling or sociological background who could bring me up to date with more current theories of grief and mourning, and help me to develop a literary theory of proleptic mourning, which might be used to analyse the poetic genre of elegy. Please leave a comment here or email me directly. Thank you.