The corporeal trauma narratives of Gayl Jones's Corregidora, Phyllis Alesia Perry's Stigmata and Luisa Valenzuela's Cambio de armas Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Passalacqua, Camille Terese
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • All of the conflicts and ensuing traumas examined in these literary narratives address the suppression of a national consciousness about the severity of the crimes committed against certain groups of individuals in the Americas--against Africans forced into slavery and the descendants of these enslaved individuals, and against the victims of Argentina's recent national conflict. This dissertation investigates the wounded and violated female body as the site for healing from and integration of individual and collective traumatic experiences. This four-chapter investigation draws from trauma theorists working in various disciplines, such as Cathy Caruth, Dori Laub, Shoshana Felman, Dominick LaCapra, Judith Lewis Herman, and Elaine Scarry, in order to establish the theoretical approaches to traumatic memory, testimony, and witnessing. Any theoretical exploration into the representation and articulation of trauma must include a return to the body as not just the site for pain, wounding, and separation of self from body and soul. I suggest the body is more than merely an instrument or animated canvas that the mind and soul use. Rather, the body is essential to how the person is made present and expresses herself in the world. Therefore, violently inflicted trauma fractures and separates this intimate relationship between the body, mind, and soul. Whereas previous studies of the wounded body discuss the ways in which violence on the body determines identity and functions as another form of text and witnessing, I reposition the critical lens to examine how the wounded body tells a different story. My project suggests that the female protagonists find ways to reconstruct themselves in light of their individual trauma by resorting to languages not only verbal to tell their stories. Through the very encounter with their physical and psychological wounding, the female characters individually access and come to know their traumas, and they also transmit their stories to another individual, which is essential for integration of the past with the present self.
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  • In Copyright
  • Harris, Trudier
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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