A Poetics of Trauma after 9/11

A Poetics of Trauma after 9/11 : Representing Trauma in a Digitized Present

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The 9/11 attacks brought large-scale violence into the 21st century with force and have come to epitomize the entanglement of intimate vulnerability and virtual spectacle that is typical of the globalized present. This book works at the intersection of trauma studies, affect theory, and literary studies to offer radically new interpretive frames for interrogating the challenges inherent in representing the initial moments of the terrorist encounter. Beyond the paradigm of traumatic unspeakability, post-9/11 texts expose the materiality of the human body in its universal vulnerability. The intersubjective empathy this engenders is politically subversive, as it undermines the discourse of historical singularity and exceptionalism by establishing a global network of reference and dialogue. Innovative theoretical interconnections between clinical pathology, concepts of cultural trauma, and political aesthetics lay the foundations for exploring formally and geographically diverse texts. Close readings of works by Jonathan Safran Foer, Art Spiegelman, Don DeLillo, and William Gibson map the relationship between representations of 9/11 and complex aspects of trauma theory. This detailed approach makes a case for revisiting trauma theory and bringing its Freudian origins into the digitized present. It showcases trauma as a physical and psychological wound as well as an experience that is simultaneously pre-discursive and inhibited by the virtuality of the present-day real. Exploring how contemporary trauma studies can take into account the digitization and virtuality of present-day realities, this book is a key intervention in establishing a contemporary ethics of witnessing terror.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 214 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 17.78mm | 454g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1138121339
  • 9781138121331

Table of contents

1. Introduction: Why Trauma Now? 2. Trajectories into Theory I: Trauma Literature 3. Trajectories into Theory II: Imaginative Literature and Cultural Trauma 4. Traumatic Singularities, Traumatized Detours: Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 5. `Icons of a More Innocent Age'? Comix of Trauma in Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers 6. Precarious Bodies and the Ethics of Witnessing Trauma: Don DeLillo's Falling Man 7. Trauma in a Virtual World: William Gibson's Pattern Recognition 8. Conclusion: Questions of Genre - A 9/11 Chronotope? Space-Times and the Timelessness of 9/11 Trauma Fiction
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About Katharina Donn

Katharina Donn is a lecturer and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Augsburg, Germany, focusing on trauma and memory in U.S.-American literature, and has held visiting fellowships at the Eccles Centre for American Studies, the Institute of Advanced Studies at University College London, and a visiting professorship at the University of Texas at Austin.
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