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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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Traumatic Silences in Contemporary Australian War Fiction


Tessa Lunney


Silence is an essential component of any war story. Not simply what the characters don’t say, but why they don’t say it, what they recognize in others as remaining unsaid, and what remains unrecognized because it is unsaid. In war fiction, lyrical and structural techniques are employed to portray silence. Silence is often the result of trauma, and this traumatic silence is focused on the battles, imprisonment, death, injury, and loneliness of war, and the unexpected consequences of the disruption that war creates. In Australian war fiction, the figure of the Anzac soldier is used to explore ideas of traumatic silence. By negotiating how the unalloyed, positive attributes of the Anzac soldier fit into the reality of combat life, and later, repatriated life, authors of Australian literature have fertile ground for writing about silence and trauma. In this paper, I explore three different literary expressions of traumatic silence: the paradoxical double image in The Wing of Night by Brenda Walker; unspoken intimacy and the intimacy of the unspoken in The Great World by David Malouf; and the veneer of saturating detail in After the Fire, a Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld.

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