News & Information

Olive Oatman the Tattooed Girl, Personal Memoir Writing

Top of Mind with Julie Rose
  • Apr 5, 2016 9:27 pm

Today's episode originally aired on January 15, 2016. Click here to listen. Olive Oatman the Tattooed Girl Guest: Margot Mifflin, Professor of English at the City University of New York At the age of 14 Olive Oatman was captured and enslaved by Native Americans, then sold to a friendlier tribe who tattooed her chin with distinctive blue hash marks and raised her as one of their own. Four years later, Olive was delivered back to the whites in exchange for horses, blankets and beads. She became a national sensation. People flocked to read her autobiography and gawk at her on the lecture circuit. But Olive Oatman could never really be white again, says author Margot Mifflin. In her book, “The Blue Tattoo,” Mifflin deciphers fact from fiction and explores what Olive’s story teaches us about race and identity in America.  Memoir Writing Guest: Joey Franklin, PhD, Professor of English at Brigham Young University A lot of us write about our lives on Facebook or Instagram. We share little snippets of our lives. They’re often mundane and always curated. We crop the clutter out of the picture; wait for the one moment when the kids are finally playing together nicely to snap a shot; and channel a little extra positivity before writing the caption--#blessed. Maybe we’re completely honest in a private diary, but certainly not when publishing our lives to the world. And yet, when was the last time you read a memoir or autobiography that including only sunny, sweet moments? How boring. The messy truth of life is what makes memoir so compelling to readers. Adolescent humiliation, marital angst, parenting failures and a willingness not to take himself seriously all figure prominently in the collection of personal essays BYU English professor Joey Franklin has just published. The book is called, “My Wife Wants You to Know I’m Happily Married.”