Swing Time: In the Land of Flat Feet Societal Impacts on Individual Recollective Identity

Document Type : Original Article


23, Mercan 1, Mercan Complex, Sedef St., Atasehir Blvd., Atasehir Ataturk District


Studies on fictional and factual narratives suggest the prominence of memory and culture in

the formation of individual self-portrait(s). This study aims to foreground the milieu in Zadie

Smith’s Swing Time (2016), zeroing in on social semiotics underlying the narrative’s structure.

Drawing on Maurice Halbwachs and Pierre Nora’s theories, the paper dissects the mechanisms

of diachronic memory in the conception and development of the narrator’s lived experience,

hence her collective and individual identity. Through Juri Lotman’s semiotic ideation of

memory, the prevailing web of collectivity in Swing Time will be explored. In this fashion, the

eminence of collective memories in life narratives will be pinpointed. The life of the narrator in

Swing Time manifests how dominant discourses in societies give rise to the deprivation of

subjects from interpreting their memories autonomously, thereby, transforming the individual to

a witness to a pre-fabricated existence rather than a participant in a lived reality.