Trauma and wounding

James-Dunbar, Heidi (2011) Trauma and wounding. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis recalls and surveys the work of major theorists in the field of Trauma theory, including Freud, Charcot, Prince, Caruth and Leys. It will consider if literature can provide a positive response to the attestation and representation of trauma. For Derrida, testimony must always remain irreducible to evidence or proof. This secret at the heart of every telling is what is at stake for survivors of trauma. Further, pain (either physical or mental) is that which precisely can't be shared between subjects it cannot be denied neither can it be confirmed. On the one hand it induces certainty (I feel pain) and on the other, doubt (I can't see or feel your pain). One's pain is entirely aversive, a secret that evades language. How does this affect the textual production of trauma narratives? And how are those narratives received? The definition of testimony, that it alone can't constitute a 'proof whilst possibly recuperating one's right to 'tell' insomuch as one can construct an apparatus to evade censorship by government or other authorities, reduces that telling to a fiction, a story; which could be described as akin to the violence of blocking one's ears, refusing to partake in witnessing, a dismissal of subjectivity/sovereignty. Can literature and the art of testimony confront the impossibility of a proper response to trauma, a trauma that evades language and majority discursive practices?

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