The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary and Cultural Criticism

By Rodi-Risberg, Marinella | Studies in the Humanities, March 2015 | Go to article overview

The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary and Cultural Criticism


Rodi-Risberg, Marinella, Studies in the Humanities


The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary and Cultural Criticism, edited by Gert Buelens, Samuel Durrant, and Robert Eaglestone. London: Routledge, 2014. $43.95, paperback, 182 pages.

The early 1990s experienced what can usefully be called a traumatic turn in literary studies, and recent publications reassess the limits and possibilities of the trauma paradigm for the twenty-first century. The aptly titled collection, The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary and Cultural Criticism, is a timely intervention in the theoretical dialogue concerning the future development of trauma theory. While the notion of suffering has always been an important topic for literary scholars, trauma theory has--more than twenty years after its inception in a canon of primarily Holocaust, modernist, and postmodern texts by North American and European authors with mainly (post)deconstructive and psychoanalytic literary methods--burgeoned into a decidedly diversified field, concentrating on a wide range of genres, writers, and artists from different parts of the world. The essays by international scholars from the U.S. and Europe, gathered together by Gert Buelens, Samuel Durrant, and Robert Eaglestone, innovatively reappraise trauma studies for the future, resituating Euro-American frameworks and models of trauma in postcolonial and global contexts. The volume falls short in largely ignoring gender issues (and less than a third of the contributors are women). In a study that engages with multiple disciplines (including history, philosophy, politics, cultural studies, and sociology) and in which editors claim that trauma theory is "profoundly interdisciplinary" (3), one would perhaps expect an engagement with gender theories. However, with its breadth of focus, the book stands as a solid contribution to the existing scholarship on trauma.

While the volume's first two essays by Dominick LaCapra (one of the founders of trauma theory) and Robert Eaglestone, respectively, advance trauma theory by exploring its beginnings in representations of the Holocaust, which in the 1990s was viewed as the trauma of Western modernity, the majority of The Future of Trauma Theory's essays reconsider core concepts or genres by engaging with biopolitics (Jenny Edkins and Pieter Vermeulen) and science fiction (Roger Luckhurst), or highlight some of the limitations of what Michael Rothberg in the preface calls "classical trauma theory" (xii) in the face of globalization and (post)colonial trauma. Stef Craps, in "Beyond Eurocentrism: Trauma Theory in the Global Age," analyzes Aminatta Foma's work. Craps contradicts Eaglestone's view that the future of trauma theory can be found by investigating it through its deconstructive history and instead sees "breaking with Eurocentrism" by "acknowledging the traumas of non-Westem or minority populations for their own sake" and "on their own terms" as central (48). The relationship of trauma theory to non-Westem minority cultures that concerns Craps is also taken up by Ananya Jahanara Kabir in "Affect, Body, Place: Trauma Theory in the World," in which she analyzes non-narrative cultural products from Cambodia, Angola, and Afghanistan as responses to trauma, underscoring that the future of trauma theory lies in finding tools "that acknowledge the myriad modes of consolation, memorializing and reconciliation which are deployed by traumatized subjects who may never have heard of Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis and, indeed, 'trauma theory'" (64). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary and Cultural Criticism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.