50. évf. , 3–4. szám (2011): A trauma alakzatai
A trauma szó csakis alakzatként kerülhet át olyan tudományterületekre, mint az irodalomtudomány vagy a kultúratudomány. Sőt, a terminust a baleseti sebészettől kölcsönző pszichológia és pszichoanalízis is alakzatokban tudja a saját traumafogalmát meghatározni. A pszichopatológiából vett ismérvek szerint a poszttraumás...stressz-zavar (PTSD) egyik jellemzője az elfojtás, mely könnyen párhuzamba állítható a kihagyás alakzatával, egy másik szimptóma, az ismétlés(kényszer) pedig az egyik legalapvetőbb retorikai megoldások közé tartozik. A megfeleltetések sorát lehetne folytatni, de kétségkívül félrevezető következtetésekre is vezethetnek, mint ahogyan a traumadiskurzus nyitányakor, a kilencvenes évek elején a „dekonstruktív” traumaelmélet valóban elkövetett efféle következetlenségeket. Az immár két évtizedre visszatekintő interdiszciplináris bölcsészettudományi irányzat sikere viszont abban is mérhető, hogy viszonylag hamar, egy évtizeden belül megszülettek az ezekre a hibákra rávilágító kritikák is. Ezért tartottuk fontosnak, hogy a traumaelméletet elemzésekben alkalmazó tanulmányokat több, elméleti reflexiókat tárgyaló írás is megelőzze.
Trauma, the key experience of twentieth-century Europe, has recently gained global importance. That is the reason behind the growing number of trauma theories. An important notion of Freudian trauma theory (Cathy Caruth) is that the traumatic event does not inevitably coincides with the emergence of traumatic state of mind (or consciousness). T...he concept of sociological trauma, coined by Jeffrey C. Alexander, suggests that it is the community that eventually decides which past event can be considered a traumatic experience. This is how traumatic experience is becoming today a decisive political doctrine that designates directly our moral and political attitude towards the events in the world.
The essay investigates what role the notion of trauma gets in the texts of Shoshana Felman and Cathy Caruth: trauma enables both authors to open up Paul de Man’s textually oriented deconstructive approach to questions of referentiality, history and ethics. After studying three main features of trauma theory (how does literature and the litera...ry figure in trauma theory, what link is there between trauma and jurisprudence, and how does trauma become the paradoxical model of the relationship between consciousness and history), the essay confronts it with recent critiques arriving mainly from feminism and postcolonial theory.
The present survey aims to overview the criticism on the theory of cultural trauma, as well as to define the specific character of this theorem in the light of its critical judgement. Trauma studies, an interdisciplinary field of humanities has been successful for over two decades and this popularity manifests itself also in the very early emer...gence of severe criticism. The first wave of critics attacked especially the fact that Shoshana Felman’s and Cathy Caruth’s arguments regard the trauma as a metaphysical centre, as opposed to their point of origin in deconstruction. Because of this defect, Wulf Kansteiner, the fiercest critic considers even the use of the term cultural trauma an ethical delinquency. At this point, however, he himself can be criticised too: he fails to make any conceptual distinctions, based on which one could clearly distinguish between individual, psychic trauma and cultural traumas. In case of an individual trauma the medium is the body, the therapy is the representation, thus the traumatic experience becomes part of another medium. Mediality is an inevitable factor in the interpretation of any trauma, which we can also conclude when taking into consideration other context such as the theory of cultural memory or narratology. Therefore, I finally argue for the integration of the aspect of mediality into trauma-theory.
While we can consider the difficulties of using the cultural trauma theories for texts produced before the nineteenth century, and several hurried interpretation resulted misapplication of these approaches to early modern history and litearature, in this essay I intend to introduce a new British research project, and try to frame by cultural tr...auma theory and its critics. British state prayers, fasts and thankgivings (1540s–1940s) is managed by a research group of the University of Durham, United Kingdom. Participants investigate the tradition of national state prayers, fast or humiliation days, thanksgiving days and national days of prayer.
Special church services were organised and prayers were read in all parish of England as well as Scotland, Ireland and Wales. In particular dates or periods (epidemics, war, famine, rebellion, good/bad harvests, royal births etc.) the King/Queen, the government, and the archbishop of Canterbury, or other church leaders officially ordered special acts of national worship. Prayers and sermons presented the nation as a sinful community, and urged them to practice repentance, because it was thought that calamities will come to an end only, if people convert themselves to God. The research group in Durham is investigating when and how these occasions ordered (by proclamation, privy council order, or by royal request).
From the aspect of cultural trauma theory I compare several official religious interpretations of particular events, and try to highlight the pressure of the authority (monarchy, government) on their political and/or religious counterparts on the one hand, and the battles for special events of national memory on the other hand. Cultural trauma theory offers some formulations for explaining the ’working through’ of political crises and natural calamities from sixteenth to twentieth century, and show us how to consider consequences of devastating loss and pain of a community, whether national and/or religious.
Interpretation of these crises as prompt and continuous reaction to a traditional, Biblical language, may help the community to explain the cathastrophic events, and to develop a necessary condition for working through. This means that there is no latency, which might causes and signs cultural trauma.
Using trauma theories and its critics, I try to find possibilities to transform this international research for a future Hungarian investigation.
In the recent past, the literary representations of traumatic experience have aroused the interest of social and literary studies in Hungary. The short story cycle Forradalmi- és csataképek (Pictures of Revolution and Battle), written by Mór Jókai shortly after the close of the Hungarian War of Independence of 1848-49, is well suited for an...alyses in the context of trauma discourse, since its rhetorical code, narrative strategies, composition and genre are all oriented towards the representation of collective trauma. The short stories also stage the successive phases of grieving: the mapping of the trauma that befell both individuals and the communal spirit, facing the loss, and the release of grief. My reading of the short stories identifies the various detraumatizing poetical actions that are most obviously detectable in the mourning process featured by the text. Collective trauma is not a directly tangible psychic wound: the major endeavour of literary narratives representing collective traumatization is to point out the very existence of the wounds affecting the communal psyche, and to remedy them in some way. Literary texts can obtain this ability primarily by merging them with the discursive spaces of plot structures, generic models offered by the tradition, and potentially evoked intertexts. Thus, my intention with the interpretation of the meta-discourses of Jókai’s short story cycle is to demonstrate the frames and media of the literary representation of trauma and the work of mourning.
The essay intends to read Scott’s tetralogy as trauma fiction that is concerned with the traumatic experience of the Anglo-Indian community in the last days of the Raj. The novel stages the attempts of the community to come to terms with the traumatic nature of colonial intersubjectivity and with the loss of the symbolic identity attached to...the civilising project. Although the traumatic kernel is condensed in the Bibighar affair and in the scene between Merrick and Kumar, I argue that these events are symptoms rather than sources of trauma, and that the repetitive nature of the text might be seen as a symptomatic and futile series of willed and unconscious attempts to work through the diffused, disseminated trauma.
My paper investigates the rhetoric of national traumas in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and Shame. I argue that the birth of India and Pakistan are depicted as traumatic events in these novels in the sense in which Cathy Caruth uses the term: they appear as unacknowledged, unclaimed experiences. The metaphor of the noise speaks about... these moments in Midnight’s Children, the miraculous noise of the children’s conference, which is the allegory of the Indian nation in the novel, whereas in Shame the grotesque cacophony of cultural encounters, which create the “palimpsest” of Pakistan. The texts find different means to deal with these experiences: in Midnight’s Children the discovery of the children’s noise is traumatic for the main character, who is unable to make sense of the incident, and redefines the metaphor he articulates in this moment several times, trying to attribute some kind of meaning to the elusive, unclaimed experience. In Shame the grotesque music simply becomes repressed: instead of coming to terms with the trauma of their shameful night, the “three mothers” resolve never to feel this emotion again, and lock themselves in their enormous, silent house. I argue that whereas Midnight’s Children manages to transform the trauma into narrative memory, however inadequately, Shame fails to find any means to integrate the experience, which inevitably leads to the reassertion of silence at the end of the novel.
Sowohl Daniel Libeskind bei seinem Jüdischen Museum Berlin, als auch W. G. Sebald in seinem Austerlitz-Roman verbinden den Holocaustdiskurs mit dem aus der Sicht der Kulturwissenschaften neuverstandenen Traumadiskurs. Zwischen dem Bau, der als Holocaust Mahnmal im Museum funktioniert und dem Roman, der die Lebensgeschichte eines traumatisierte...n Holocaust-Überlebenden erzählt, trifft man aber auf einen näheren und stärkeren Bezug, wenn man sie auf ihr Raumkonzept hin untersucht. Von zentraler Bedeutung für ihr Zusammentreffen ist das Konzept, dass einem das Trauma erst der Architekturraum bewusst machen kann. Architektur funktioniert ja sowohl in ihrer gebauten als auch erzählten Form als eine „Erinnerungsmaschine”, die die verlorenen oder verdeckten Fährten der Vergangenheit, ihre Leidensspuren als Abgründe der Gegenwart und der Normalität aufdecken kann. Die räumliche Dimension des Traumas blieb bislang in den kulturwissenschaftlichen Trauma- und Holocaustforschungen unterbelichtet. Die vorliegende Studie ist ein Versuch an dieser
Fragenstellung zu arbeiten.
Literary texts that deal with traumatic experience develop a specific language: the language in which trauma is recitable, thus it can be dissolved. Trauma texts are often read as testimonies, narrative recoveries. The aspects of trauma theories may help the investigation of several literary texts from the end of the 20th century and from the f...irst years of the 21st century, as trauma fiction may seem detached, emotionless or disturbingly explicit to readers for the first time. Reading trauma fiction demands an open state of mind and stronger fortitude than a usual literary text, as the trauma can be experienced in reading to some extent. In my paper I demonstrate strategies of interpretation based on trauma theory, through the analysis of Gabriella Nagy’s text, Eset.