This essay uses Alexander Pope’s celebrated poem The Rape of the Lock as a case study for understanding how to read literature in a way that is more cognizant of loss and for understanding the role of active and embodied remembering in doing so. It frames the poem as a type of literary memorial and then posits a different way of reading it as a form of active remembering and traumatic return. The essay also points toward the insights of disability studies and how that framework allows a definition of the human that sees loss as constitutive and hence “normal” rather than singular. The essay concludes by gesturing toward how the meaning/memory of this poem is ongoing and “subject to negotiation”—as Michael Rothberg argues in Multidirectional Memory—as shaped by current events just as it was shaped by the politics of its time.

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