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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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Trauma in Words: Comparison of the Coverage in Le Devoir and the Toronto Star of the 2010 Haitian Earthquake


Irena Radišević


This chapter examines to what extent the media employ the terminology of trauma to discuss disasters, since the media play a significant role in describing trauma.  Norris et al. (Norris et al. 2002: 208) define a disaster as “an acute, collectively experienced traumatic event with a sudden onset”, which can cause enormous damage to the social and environmental structures of a community. The trauma experienced through man-made disasters (e.g., the Holocaust, 9/11) has generated a field of trauma studies which includes terminology that describes the psychological manifestations of trauma. This paper analyzes the use of trauma terminology in the French language newspaper Le Devoir (Montreal, Quebec) and the English language newspaper the Toronto Star (Toronto, Ontario). The paper is divided in two parts. The first part addresses the theoretical background of media, disaster, and trauma. The second part discusses the methods and results of the newspaper analysis. 

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