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Witness to Pain

Essays on the Translation of Pain into Art

Nieves Pascual

On writing our pain we inevitably write about the past because it is impossible to produce art in situations of acute physical pain. As Elaine Scarry has convincingly argued in The Body in Pain, during severe illness individuals spontaneously lose the means to convey their feelings and emotions. So the art of pain inevitably comes from a witness to this pain, i.e. doctors, sympathetic onlookers and ex-patients who examine their pain once it has remitted. This interdisciplinary collection of essays identifies as its core issues the translation of pain into art, the (im)possibility of finding your own voice in situations of pain, and the presumed therapeutic power of the artistic representation of pain. This volume assembles contributions from scholars in New Zealand, Canada, The United States, Germany, Portugal, Sweden and Spain. Photographs, films, paintings, fictional narratives, autobiographies and poems on pain are analyzed using a variety of critical approaches and different perspectives that range from structuralism to psychoanalysis.
Contents: Mark Mossman: Pleasure, Pain, and the Discourse of Industry: The disabled body as cultural object – Ángel Cagigas: Pain as Expression: The Case of Hysteria – Nieves Pascual: Photographs as Prostheses – Dana Milstein: Pain is a Preposition – Eluned Summers-Bremner: Sleep’s Guile: Insomnia and the Work of Art – Kerstin Bergman: Under the Aspect of Pain – Valérie de Courville Nicol: From Pain to Pleasure: Moral Education through Sublime Terror in The Mysteries of Udolpho – Markus Rheindorf: ‘To survive war, you gotta’ become war’. The Productivity of Pain in Mainstream Action Films – Isabel Capeloa Gil: Femina Monstruosa: Femininity as Trauma in Robinson Jeffers’ Medea and George Tabori’s M.