Wounds and Words

Childhood and Family Trauma in Romantic and Postmodern Fiction

Trauma has become a hotly contested topic in literary studies. But interest in trauma is not new; its roots extend to the Romantic period, when novelists and the first psychiatrists influenced each others' investigations of the »wounded mind«. This book looks back to these early attempts to understand trauma, reading a selection of Romantic novels in dialogue with Romantic and contemporary psychiatry. It then carries that dialogue forward to postmodern fiction, examining further how empirical approaches can deepen our theorizations of trauma. Within an interdisciplinary framework, this study reveals fresh insights into the poetics, politics, and ethics of trauma fiction.

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2013-05-14, 346 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8376-2378-9

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Christa Schönfelder

Christa Schönfelder, Universität Zürich, Schweiz

... with Christa Schönfelder

1. Books the world doesn't need. Why is this not the case for your publication?

The topic of trauma revolves around a number of pressing concerns of contemporary society. The last few decades have often been described as a ›wound culture‹ or ›post-traumatic culture‹, that is, as a culture profoundly concerned with the impact of trauma on individuals and collectives, with victimhood and survival, with narrating and sharing stories of trauma. This book engages with these highly current issues but also re-perspectivizes them by providing a sustained comparison of ›postmodern trauma‹ and ›Romantic trauma‹.

2. Which novel points of view does your publication offer?

This book sets out to explore new as well as marginalized directions within literary trauma studies in several ways: It extends the discussion of trauma back in time and investigates Romantic trauma novels through the lens of Romantic psychiatry – and in dialogue with postmodern trauma novels and contemporary psychiatry. Through this dual historical focus and a decidedly interdisciplinary trajectory, this book leads to new insights into the complexities of trauma and trauma fiction.

3. What is the significance of the subject in current debates?

Since the mid-1990s, trauma has emerged as a hot – and hotly contested – topic in the humanities. This book participates in the ongoing debates on trauma, endeavouring to rethink some of the leading paradigms. Notably, it challenges universalizing and/or aestheticizing approaches and departs from a one-sided focus on acting out and the crises caused by trauma; it investigates – in dialogue with trauma psychology – the importance of giving space to explorations of working through and recovery. At the same time, the book also aligns itself with recent studies that place particular emphasis on trauma and ethics.

4. With whom would you most like to discuss your publication?

Beyond discussions with scholars in my home field, I would especially appreciate further exchange with trauma experts from psychology and psychiatry in order to continue the interdisciplinary dialogue that is at the heart of this book. Moreover, I would be keen on hearing the thoughts from people who experienced the types of trauma discussed in the book, that is, on getting responses to literary trauma and theoretical debates from those who have first-hand experience of childhood and family trauma.

5. Your publication in one sentence:

Trauma re-examined – at the intersections of literature and psychiatry, of Romanticism and postmodernism.

Book title
Wounds and Words Childhood and Family Trauma in Romantic and Postmodern Fiction
Publisher
transcript Verlag
Pages
346
Features
kart.
ISBN
978-3-8376-2378-9
DOI
Commodity Group
1564
BIC-Code
DSB JFC
BISAC-Code
LIT004120 LIT000000 SOC022000
THEMA-Code
DSB JBCC
Release date
2013-05-14
Edition
1
Topics
Psychoanalyse, Literatur
Readership
Literary Studies, Cultural Studies, Trauma Studies, History of Psychiatry
Keywords/Tags
Trauma, Childhood, Novel, Romanticism, Postmodernism, Literature, Psychoanalysis, British Studies, General Literature Studies, Cultural Studies, Literary Studies

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