Review of the Book The Unspeakable: Narratives of Trauma, M. Stroinska, V. Cecchetto, K. Szymanski
The Linguist LIst
Scholarly/refereed, publisher version
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The Unspeakable: Narratives of Trauma (henceforth, Unspeakable) is an edited collection of 14 papers drawn from and inspired by “Exploring the Edge of Trauma” (Kingston University, London, UK, May 2010) -- an international conference organized by Lieve Spaas and Fran Lloyd on trauma and the representation of trauma through art and other visual means. As a collection, the chapters address three themes related to the study of trauma and traumatic events: 1) the effect of traumatic experiences on the trauma survivor’s relationship to self and others, 2) the processes by which voice and meaning are given to traumatic experiences, and 3) the manner in which individuals and societies do (Posttraumatic Growth) or do not (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD) move on from these experiences. Individually, the texts differently interrogate trauma as it is understood (from more medically-oriented definitions as determined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders versus more psychologically-oriented ones associated with the APA), experienced (as a result of war, displacement, rape), documented (through letters, diaries, novels) and analyzed (as discourse, archival texts, newspaper coverage, visual art). Following a brief introduction by the volume’s editors, the papers that comprise Unspeakable are presented through four “contexts” of trauma: 1) Historical, 2) Socio-political, 3) “Singular Events”, and 4) Theoretical. Additionally, each text is preceded by a quotation reflecting a major theme within the paper. For example, the quote by Abraham Lincoln, “With the fearful strain that is on me day and night, if I did not laugh, I should die”, introduces Jakub Kazecki’s “The Functions of Humor and Laughter in Narrating Trauma in German Literature of the First World War”. A short summary of each work follows, presented under its respective context, and with the first and last names of the authors provided in parenthesis.
Thomas, M. (2015, August 26). Linguist List [Review of the book The Unspeakable: Narratives of Trauma, M. Stroinska, V. Cecchetto, K. Szymanski (eds)]. Linguist List, https://linguistlist.org/issues/26/26-3788.html.
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