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Other People’s Pain

Narratives of Trauma and the Question of Ethics


Edited By Martin Modlinger and Philipp Sonntag

How do we approach other people’s pain? This question is of crucial importance to the humanities, particularly literary and cultural studies, whenever they address narratives of terror and genocide, injustice and oppression, violence and trauma. Talking about other people’s pain inevitably draws attention to the ethical dimension involved in acknowledging stories and histories of violence while avoiding an appropriation – by the reading public, literary critics or cultural historians alike – of the traumatic experiences themselves. The question of how to do justice to the other’s pain calls for an academic response that reflects as much on its own status as ethical agent as on literary expression and philosophical accounts or theoretical descriptions. This volume therefore explores the theoretical framework of trauma studies and its place within academic discourse and society, and examines from a multidisciplinary perspective the possibilities and limitations of trauma as an analytical category. A variety of case studies on individual and collective traumatic experiences as portrayed in literature and art highlight the ethical implications involved in the production, reception and analysis of other people’s pain.


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Contents Acknowledgements vii Martin Modlinger and Philipp Sonntag Introduction: Other People’s Pain – Narratives of Trauma and the Question of Ethics 1 Colin Davis Trauma and Ethics: Telling the Other’s Story 19 Aleida Assmann From Collective Violence to a Common Future: Four Models for Dealing with a Traumatic Past 43 Susannah Radstone Trauma Studies: Contexts, Politics, Ethics 63 María Jesús Martínez-Alfaro Narrating the Holocaust and its Legacy: The Complexities of Identity, Trauma and Representation in Art Spiegelman’s Maus 91 Bettina Bannasch Zero – A Gaping Mouth: The Discourse of the Camps in Herta Müller’s Atemschaukel between Literary Theory and Political Philosophy 115 Hubert Zapf Trauma, Narrative and Ethics in Recent American Fiction 145 vi Rudolf Freiburg Trauma as Normalcy: Pain in Philip Roth’s The Human Stain 169 Susana Onega Trauma, Shame and Ethical Responsibility for the Death of the Other in J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians 201 Notes on Contributors 237 Index 241

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