"In a shattered language": a feminist poetics of trauma.

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"In a shattered language": a feminist poetics of trauma.

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In a Shattered Language": A Feminist Poetics of Trauma, fuses theories of traumatic stress with studies of contemporary poetry and poetics. This project intervenes in debates over the ways trauma is experienced, remembered, and represented by positing poetry as an alternative form of discourse--one which endures the pressures of testimonial coherence while simultaneously preserving the aporias of knowledge and memory that characterize traumatization. My analysis also revises trauma theory from a feminist perspective by investigating domestic traumas such as rape, incest, and mental illness as portrayed in poetry by North American women writers in the twentieth century. The dissertation opens with a brief Prologue, which views the 2010 Korean film Poetry as a text through which the major concerns of this project are refracted. The first chapter, "Difficult Word: The Interpretation of `Trauma' and the Trauma of Interpretation," traces a genealogy of trauma as an intellectual concept prone to semantic slippage, and calls for a Poetics of Trauma to reconfigure the role of linguistic form in conceptualizing trauma and its aftermath. The second chapter, "`While Someone Else is Eating': The Dialectic of the Extreme and the Everyday in Frances Driscoll's. The Rape Poems," conducts close readings of poetry by a survivor of intruder rape, and argues that a feminist perspective qualifies the core tenet of trauma theory which locates traumata in extreme external events. The third chapter, "Traumatizing the Lyric `I': Poetic Subjectivity in Betsy Warland's. The Bat Had Blue Eyes," considers theories of the traumatized "self" as they pertain to an adult survivor of childhood incest, and argues that poetry-writing generates a phenomenological selfhood through which survival becomes perpetual revision. The final chapter, "Traumatic Consciousness: The Poetry of Interpretation in Hannah Weiner's Archive," encounters Weiner's work as a means of critiquing the psychopathology model of trauma. This chapter finds that Weiner's avant-garde poetics both does and does not evince symptoms of her struggle with schizophrenia, and as such, suggests how conventional language itself traumatizes consciousness. This chapter weaves together research in Weiner's unpublished journals with a personal narrative to form an implicit theory of the poetics of reading and writing trauma.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2011. Major: English. Advisor: Maria Damon. 1 computer file (PDF); iii, 327 pages.

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Griffiths, Amy Kathleen. (2011). "In a shattered language": a feminist poetics of trauma.. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/117816.

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