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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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Metamorphosing Difficulties: The Portrayal of Trauma in Autobiographical Comics


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Metamorphosing Difficulties,: The Portrayal of Trauma in Autobiographical Comics

Sarah Lightman


In this chapter three women comic artists were interviewed about the creation of their autobiographical graphic novels based on their own traumatic experiences. Where traumatic experiences have previously been argued to be unspeakable and inexpressible - these artists have drawn and written about their experiences. Sarah Leavitt’s Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother and Me (2011), Nicola Streeten’s Billy, Me & You: A Memoir of Grief and Recovery (2011) and Maureen Burdock’s Mona & The Little Smile (2008), are all critically acclaimed publications by first time authors about the loss of a parent, the loss of a son, and sexual abuse respectively. The research into their work incorporated art therapy, studies in loss and bereavement, literature, and psychology. The chapter concludes with findings that are in keeping with posttraumatic growth - the creation of comics about traumatic life-experiences has had a positive impact on the artists’ lives both creatively and professionally.

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