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‘Why is this girl telling us all this stuff?’: authenticity and the confessional impulse in Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation

Brauner, D. ORCID: (2021) ‘Why is this girl telling us all this stuff?’: authenticity and the confessional impulse in Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation. Comparative American Studies, 18 (2). pp. 192-205. ISSN 1741-2676

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/14775700.2021.1982327


In the Author’s Note to Prozac Nation, Elizabeth Wurtzel writes: ‘As far as I am concerned, every word of this book is the complete and total truth. But of course, it’s my truth’. The tension between this absolute claim to ‘truth’ and the acknowledgement that this truth is personal and subjective is one that resonates throughout the memoir. On the one hand, Wurtzel takes great pains to establish the authenticity of her narrative; on the other hand, she is acutely aware of the ways in which it – and the life it describes – is performative, shaped by a confessional impulse that she situates in the tradition of confessional writing. In this article, I explore how Prozac Nation stages and interrogates confessional acts, simultaneously constructing and deconstructing notions of authenticity. I focus on the ways in which Wurtzel deploys cultural references to represent herself as both exceptional and representative, her narrative exemplifying what it is like to be, as the book’s subtitle puts it, ‘Young and Depressed in America’, while at the same time insisting on the singularity of its author’s experience. I conclude by arguing that Prozac Nation rejects the authentic/inauthentic binary, presenting a mediated series of selves that are always in flux.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Identities
ID Code:100235
Publisher:Taylor and Francis


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