Writing History, Writing Trauma

Writing History, Writing Trauma

Paperback Parallax: Re-Visions of Culture and Society (Paperback)

By (author) Dominick LaCapra

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Paperback $25.15
  • Publisher: JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Paperback | 248 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 229mm x 15mm | 272g
  • Publication date: 24 November 2000
  • Publication City/Country: Baltimore, MD
  • ISBN 10: 0801864968
  • ISBN 13: 9780801864964
  • Sales rank: 162,612

Product description

Trauma and its often symptomatic aftermath pose acute problems for historical representation and understanding. In Writing History, Writing Trauma, Dominick LaCapra provides a broad-ranging, critical inquiry into the problem of trauma, notably with respect to major historical events. In a series of interlocking essays, he explores theoretical and literary-critical attempts to come to terms with trauma as well as the crucial role post-traumatic testimonies-particularly Holocaust testimonies-have assumed in recent thought and writing. In doing so, he adapts psychoanalytic concepts to historical analysis and employs sociocultural and political critique to elucidate trauma and its after effects in culture and in people. In the first chapter LaCapra addresses trauma from the perspective of history as a discipline. He then lays a theoretical groundwork for the book as a whole, exploring the concept of historical specificity and insisting on the difference between transhistorical and historical trauma. Subsequent chapters consider how Holocaust testimonies raise the problem of the role of affect and empathy in historical understanding, and respond to the debates surrounding Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's book Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. The book's concluding essay, "Writing (About) Trauma," examines the various ways that the voice of trauma emerges in written and oral accounts of historical events. Theoretically ambitious and historically informed, Writing History, Writing Trauma is an important contribution from one of today's foremost experts on trauma.

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Author information

Dominick LaCapra is in the Andrew D. White Center for Humanities at Cornell University.

Review quote

This is a comprehensive, informed and generously footnoted contribution to trauma studies... Writing History, Writing Trauma will thus important reading not only to trauma theorists and their critics, but to historians and literary critics of all persuasions invested in rethinking the relationship between trauma, history, and ethics. -- Debarati Sanyal SubStance Intellectually complex yet lucid. -- Erik Weisengruber Literary Research [T]houghtful and compelling... LaCapra's discussions of historiography, philosophy, and psychoanalysis are extraordinarily lucid, and this book is a brilliant example of some of the capabilities of contemporary trauma theory in analyzing representations of trauma. Tikkun