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Contemporary American Trauma Narratives$
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Alan Gibbs

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748641147

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748641147.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

The Trauma Paradigm and Its Discontents

The Trauma Paradigm and Its Discontents

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction The Trauma Paradigm and Its Discontents
Source:
Contemporary American Trauma Narratives
Author(s):

Alan Gibbs

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748641147.003.0001

The Introduction assesses and critiques the notion of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related theories of trauma that have come to be dominant in cultural and literary studies of the phenomenon. Cornerstones of these theories – including belatedness (or Nachträglichkeit), the allegedly literal character of traumatic flashbacks, and the idea that trauma is necessarily caused by a sudden event – are interrogated, and in the field of cultural trauma studies, the work of Cathy Caruth in particular is critiqued. Discussion also centres on the emergence of what this study refers to as the ‘trauma genre’, a self-perpetuating circle of literary works according to an approved aesthetic and its attendant criticism. The Introduction finally broaches wider paradigms for the discussion of trauma in contemporary culture, for example the experience of the perpetrator.

Keywords:   post-traumatic stress disorder, Caruth, Nachträglichkeit, perpetrator trauma, trauma genre, postcolonial trauma, Whitehead, Vickroy

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