Representations of Trauma in Contemporary American Literature and Film: Moving from Erasure to Creative Transformation
AuthorParziale, Amy Elizabeth
AdvisorWhite, Susan M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 02-Jul-2015
AbstractThis dissertation attempts, in its limited way, to redress the repeated erasure of trauma from public knowledge and social consciousness by examining how a variety of crisis events have been represented in contemporary American literature and film. Intersecting archival, trauma, literary and film studies, this project highlights connections across politics of institutions and politics of identity by considering the creative transformation of trauma in representation. Considering how trauma aesthetics across a broad spectrum also illuminates the ways social structures are reinscribed, how trauma permeates and crosses borders in productive ways, and how race, gender, sexuality, and class relate to the traumatic. Each text included here has an interesting relationship to cultural history and historic events - including the Holocaust, 9/11, and slavery - challenging a variety of accepted social narratives. After an introduction outlining the theoretical frameworks, the first chapter considers Cuban-American author Cristina García's work; specifically how her first two novels - Dreaming in Cuban and The Agüero Sisters - attempt to resolve the traumatic pasts of female characters, while her subsequent two novels - Monkey Hunting and A Handbook to Luck - consider which stories are collected and which are lost. Reading novels as potential counter-archives envisions more inclusive understandings of truth, history, memory, and trauma. The image/texts analyzed in the next chapter continue this line of inquiry, further blurring supposedly stable categories like truth and history through complex interpretative relationships between textual and visual narratives in two Holocaust and four American novels. The third chapter argues that the archive created by films is not only citational and referential but potentially rewrites history. The fleeting traumatic revelations in Vertigo, Chinatown, Taxi Driver, The Searchers, Chan is Missing, and The Return of Navajo Boy acknowledge the impact and implications of trauma while creating collective memories through cinema. Similarly, the brief moments of idealized community in Toni Morrison's novels move the readerly experience out toward the current sociopolitical moment. The ambiguous endings of The Bluest Eye, Beloved, and Paradise open quietly kept narratives to history and recuperate traumatized voices that represent our past and call us to our present.
Degree ProgramGraduate College