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The Theater of Trauma

American Modernist Drama and the Psychological Struggle for the American Mind, 1900-1930

Michael Cotsell

The Theater of Trauma is a groundbreaking rereading of the relations between psychology and drama in the age of Eugene O’Neill, Susan Glaspell, and their many brilliant contemporaries. American modernist Theater of Trauma drew its vision from the psychological investigation of trauma and its consequences – among them hysteria and dissociation – made by French and American psychiatrists such as the great Pierre Janet, Alfred Binet, William James, Morton Prince, and W.E.B. Du Bois; the European and American «dissociationist culture» that developed around their work; and the resulting trauma of World War I. American dramatists’ deep resistance to Freud’s suppression of trauma challenges the equation of Freud and modernism that has become commonplace in modernist criticism.