The problem of sexual violence, including rape, domestic assault, sexual harassment, and molestation has recently become a topical issue both in public discourse and popular culture. The unspoken individual traumas have found their way to the world of TV series, such as HBO’s mini-series Big Little Lies. The essay explores the unique ways in...which the television series treats sexuality and personal traumas. It argues that while by no means can it be regarded as a soap opera, Big Little Lies occasionally uses and rewrites the genre-specific codes of this traditionally low-prestige television genre intended for women to alter the representation of individual traumas in popular culture. The use of flashbacks and involuntary repetition as narrative elements along with the retrospective framework of a criminal investigation make the serial form much suited to examine individual traumas. The television series attempts the almost impossible: to speak of the trauma’s unspeakability, and simultaneously it seeks to maintain its high viewership. (ZsOR)
This analysis of “Spanish in the Morning” (2009) and “The Girl Who Raised Pigeons” (1992) by Edward P. Jones offers a preliminary (re-)interpretation of the urban imaginary in Jones’s oeuvre by focusing on how urban places interact with the protagonists’ coming-of-age process. Detailed descriptions of routes, references to exact loc...ations in the city, spatial relations, and changes of place run through both stories. Relying on trauma theory and Jon Anderson’s conceptualization of places, the essay argues that the geographical landscape is in the forefront in these narratives, but not as a means of emphasizing, matching, or complementing the emotional one, but rather to hide it from view. The protagonists’ memories and identities gain expression in spatial terms, but foregrounding the city is posited as a hindrance to their coming-of-age process insofar as it prevents them from accepting the reality of their loss and from facing and coping with trauma. (ZsLM)
Riley, Rochelle, ed. The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2018. 178 pages. ISBN 978-0-8143-4514-6. Hb. Npr.
Drąg, Wojciech. Revisiting Loss: Memory, Trauma and Nostalgia in the Novels of Kazuo Ishiguro. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014. 211 pages. ISBN 1-4438-6057-3. Hb. £47.99.
Mechanized and trench warfare, which dominated World War I representations and made millions of soldiers suffer, challenged the rigid gender ideals and hierarchies in the Europe of the time. As the destruction of the traditional manly ideal ran parallel with the destruction of male bodies in the war, the hegemony of traditional representational... modes of soldiers was also gradually replaced by more innovative strategies both in poetry and painting. The essay analyzes such works of art with a focus on the crisis of masculinity, manifested quite tangibly in new strategies and representations of visual art. Similarly to soldiers’ written reminiscences, works of visual art depict a sense of emasculation, powerlessness, physical and mental breakdown, testifying that the masculine ideal, which was in large part defined by the chivalric heroic tradition, became anachronistic and unattainable. The figure of the physically or mentally disabled, disempowered soldier as a new phenomenon gained a central position during and after World War I, questioning the validity of the old patriarchal order. Previously marginalized masculinities, for example, the masculinity of homosexual men, and traits previously associated exclusively with femininity such as sensitivity, found their way to open up the borders and shape the Modernist discourse of European masculinity, changing it once and for all. (EEB)
This essay is devoted to a discussion of Stephen Daldry and David Hare’s film adaptation of Bernhard Schlink’s critically acclaimed but controversial Holocaust novel, The Reader (1995; 2008), through one of the film’s many intertexts—Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Little Dog” (1899). The scenes related to this short s...tory are crucial to the understanding of Daldry and Hare’s filmic reinterpretation of Schlink’s novel, since they form the mise en abyme of Hanna and Michael’s ambiguous story and stalled self-reflection. The parallels and contrasts of Chekhov’s and the filmmakers’ narratives call viewers’ attention to the ambivalences inherent in the main characters’ representation. Inspired by a passing reference to Chekhov in Schlink’s novel, the scenes alluding to “The Lady with the Little Dog” provide a metanarrative in The Reader, and, as such, reflect the adaptors’ heightened sensitivity to the ambivalences and complexities of reflecting the trauma of the Holocaust—not only for “the second generation” of Germans after World War II. (AR)
David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks (2014) centers on Holly Sykes, the main character whom the novel follows from her youth into old age, thus witnessing the major events of a lifetime through her. This recounting serves as the traditional plotline that is intertwined with a fantastic story of two warring organizations of quasiimmortals... and a narrative of climate change that ultimately leads to “Endarkenment,” the environmental catastrophe that hits the globe in Holly’s lifetime. These three distinct stories converge on the novel’s protagonist, through whom the reader encounters questions about aging, time, and mortality. The war between two atemporal factions, the Horologists and the Anchorites in particular, sheds light on humankind’s aspirations for immortality and focuses on present society’s conceptualization of old age. The paper analyzes these three distinct but tightly connected issues for a complex view both on the aging process itself and on society’s reaction and relation to it, that is, ageism. Mitchell’s novel—fantastic and realistic at the same time—becomes an intricate statement about aging, one of the most pressing issues facing humankind. (NA)
Wilker, Frank. Cultural Memories of Origin: Trauma, Memory, and Imagery in African American Narratives of the Middle Passage. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2017. 302 pages. ISBN 9783825361921. Hb. $49.05.
Mr. Peters’ Connections (1998) is often viewed as Arthur Miller’s most experimental late play. Yet, despite its uniqueness and evident dramatic value, scholarly
commentary usually focuses on its likeness with Pinter and Beckett plays and sometimes on how it is an apt product of an “octogenarian” mind. Although the
Rieder, John. Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2017. 224 pages. ISBN 9780819577160. Pbk. $22.95.
Representations of the American South and the southern sense of space have been changing rapidly due to transnational effects of colonialism, globalization, and the rise of technologies. Due to such factors, unprecedented numbers of people now travel to more distant and less visited places. One consequence of such changes is that place and spat...iality represent multicultural and global perceptions and experiences rather than being uniquely and distinctively local. Market economies exploit the space and create retroscapes to serve the economic aims of various industries. Within this context, drawing on the aesthetics of space, memory, and nostalgia, the paper focuses on the Lucky Leaf Casino in Cynthia Shearer’s The Celestial Jukebox to discuss how the text challenges and problematizes plantation nostalgia and labor exploitation through which power structures continue to restrict, disrupt, and exploit space, people, and history. (HA)
Bolton, Lucy. Contemporary Cinema and the Philosophy of Iris Murdoch. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2019. 228 pages. ISBN 9781474416399. Pbk. £75.00.