Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Mary Eisendrath


In this paper I investigate the limitations of memory, physical and psychological effects on individuals’ perception that effect memory, and the impact of those limitations on our ability to recall objective truth. The paper is introduced with an explanation of my interest in the subjective narrative voice in historical accounts and questions the possibility of a completely objective voice. In the first chapter, a fantastical biographical story of the life of Tycho Brahe is used as an example of the difficulty in parsing truth from legend. Descriptions of changes in scientific methods exemplify the uncertainty of scientific fact. I propose that Brahe sought empirical data to replace the unfiltered memory perception an anosmic lacks. Additionally, if Brahe had a sense of smell his murder may have been unsuccessful. In the second chapter I describe anosmia, then explain the dominant theories of how olfaction takes place, and memory storage through smell. Memory recall through associated odors is unfiltered by the intellect, and unalterable, while other forms of memory are subject to change as our psyche continually reforms the experience. An objective account of events is impossible. I search instead for histories where myth, legend, truth, and imagination converge.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2009