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The Unspeakable: Narratives of Trauma

Edited By Magda Stroinska, Vikki Cecchetto and Kate Szymanski

How does a trauma survivor communicate «what can’t be said out loud» to others? In what form? How can we – readers, listeners, viewers – recognize the pain and suffering hidden behind words, pictures, or other artifacts produced by trauma survivors? This volume presents a possible response by bringing together the «expressions of the unspeakable» by trauma survivors and the interpretation of researchers in various fields, i.e. clinical psychologists, linguists, anthropologists, literary and film scholars, historians, and visual artists, some of whom are survivors of trauma. By describing or analyzing different strategies for finding a narrative form for expressing the survivor’s trauma, the contributors offer not only insights into how the survivors dealt with the pain of traumatic memories but also how they were able to find hope for healing by telling their stories, in literature, graphic novels, visual art or simply by creating a personal narrative in their own voice.
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France in Shock from its Revolution


Xavier Martin


The study of psychological trauma has not only been a 20th Century phenomenon: ancient writers (e.g. the early Hebrews, Greeks and Christians) have commented on the effect of traumatic events on different societies, trying to understand the impact on individuals of war, political oppression and other related situations. This chapter reports the first-hand observations of literary, political and religious figures to the individual and societal upheavals brought on by the French Revolution. The destruction of social structures and cultural systems of reference, and their subsequent replacement by new forms of language and norms, were analysed by literary and political figures in order to help them make sense of what was happening to their society, and to come to terms with the upheaval that they were enduring in this period.

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