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The Unspeakable: Narratives of Trauma

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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The Functions of Humor and Laughter in Narrating Trauma in German Literature of the First World War


Jakub Kazecki


The chapter discusses the manifestations and functions of humor and laughter in two of the most popular and influential German novels written in the Weimar era (1919–1933): Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front (first published in 1929) and Ernst Jünger’s Storm of Steel (first edition in 1920). The investigation of humor and laughter in the narratives focuses on their function as a vehicle for communicating traumatic events to non-combatant audiences and establishing popular images of the conflict, as well as their function of acknowledging and expressing the incongruity that accompanies a traumatic experience. In addition, humor and laughter in the two works are depicted as a social device that allows the establishment of a community united by shared laughter at something or someone, or stresses group solidarity.

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