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Publication Date

Spring 2011

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Andrew F. Altschul



Subject Areas

Fine Arts; Literature


This thesis, a novel, takes place in the near future when a global memory loss epidemic dubbed "The Blank" breaks out for an unknown reason. Those affected experience a specific type of amnesia that erases any knowledge essential to personal identity, though they retain a recollection of popular culture, history, language, and those things associated with the society in which they live. The novel's main focus is with nine characters who have either lost their memories or had loved ones who "blanked." The frame of the narrative involves weekly group therapy sessions during which the nine characters meet to discuss how the Blank has affected and continues to affect them through stories the individuals tell one another. These intermediate sections divide the primary stories and are written in a third person omniscient point of view. Each character tells his or her own story, narrated in first person, and these nine stories are the main focus.

In the novel, each character's personal experience holds more importance than the Blank's effect on the world as a whole. This highlights a belief in the individual as opposed to the collective. The characters all suffered in their lives before the memory loss epidemic and consequently are able to bond together and find an inner strength that never would have been possible in their old mindsets. The novel also asks the questions of how much our environment shapes our personality and how much is innate.