September 2014 Academic & Specialist Edinburgh University Press

Contemporary American Trauma Narratives Alan Gibbs

Trauma has become an important and influential paradigm in, and for reading, contemporary American literature, and yet conventional critical interpretations of this phenomenon can be formulaic and clichéd. Alan Gibbs breaks away from these conventional, heavily psychoanalytic, ways of understanding trauma. He brings in theories from narratology to unpick the specific devices writers employ in order to represent or even to mimic the effects of trauma. He looks at the impact of narratives with the perpetrator as protagonist, the so-called ‘perpetrator narratives’, their characteristics, and their impact. He examines other narrative devices and innovations, and he groups his discussion around events such as 9/11, the Iraq War and reactions to the Bush administration.