I started working on this project in August 2013 and I will finish in June 2016. My supervisors are Bjarne Markussen, Associate Professor at the Department of Nordic and Media Studies, University of Agder and Ingrid Nielsen, Associate Professor at the Reading Centre, University of Stavanger. The project explores literary articulation of traumatic loss in various contexts in contemporary Scandinavian literature. The main focus is on the novels Sju dagar i august (2014) by Brit Bildøen, Juloratoriet (1983) by Göran Tunström, and En dåre fri (2010) by Beate Grimsrud. My dissertation will be written in Norwegian.
Literary articulation of traumatic loss in different contexts
The three novels all depict protagonists that experience an individual traumatic loss, but they also depict various social contexts for these traumas. In the first of the novels the traumatic loss is intertwined in a collective trauma, in the second the individual traumatic loss is part of a generational trauma, and in the third novel the traumatic loss is something that stays unarticulated, as part of the inner life of the main character. In my project I ask how the novels use the literary language to articulate traumatic loss and the impact of social context to the individual trauma. I will compare the novels when it comes to the ways the traumatic loss is depicted and how the novels relate to a modern aesthetic of trauma narratives.
The field of trauma research has been expanding since the 1980s when the American Psychiatric Association included the symptom indicators for «Posttraumatic Stress Disorder» in the official diagnostic manual Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Today the field of trauma studies is inter-disciplinary, and different disciplines compete to impose their specific conception of trauma, because the trauma concept is impossible to define in a way that all disciplines can accept (Luckhurst 2008). A multi-disciplinary knowledge is therefore necessary. My aim is to discuss how literary representations can deepen and challenge the understanding of trauma that dominate in contemporary culture.
Bibliography Primary texts
Bildøen, Brit 2014: Sju dagar i august. Oslo: Samlaget. Grimsrud, Beate 2010: En dåre fri. Oslo: Cappelen Damm.
Tunström, Göran 1984 : Juloratoriet. Stockholm: Albert Bonniers.
Agostinho, Daniela, Elisa Antz and Cátia Ferreira eds. 2012: Panic and Mourning. The Cultural Work of Trauma. Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter GmbH.
American Psychiatric Association 1980: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd Edition. Washington D.C: American Psychiatric Association.
Anderson, Sarah Wood 2012: Readings of Trauma, Madness and the Body. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave, Macmillan.
Antze, Paul and Michael Lambert eds. 1996: Tense Past: Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory. New York: Routledge.
Balaev, Michelle 2012: The Nature of Trauma in American Novels. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press.
Bényei, Támas and Alexandra Stara eds. 2014: The Edges of Trauma. Explorations in Visual Art and Literature. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Caruth, Cathy ed. 1995: Trauma. Explorations in Memory. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Caruth, Cathy 1996: Unclaimed experience. Trauma, Narrative and History. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Eyerman, Ron, Jeffrey C. Alexander and Elisabeth Butler Breese eds. 2013: Narrating Trauma. On the Impact of Collective Suffering. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.
Kleber, Rolf J., Charles R. Figley and Berthold P. R. Gersons eds. 1995: Beyond Trauma: Cultural and Societal Dynamics. New York: Plenum Press.
Leys, Ruth 2000: Trauma: A Genealogy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Luckhurst, Roger 2008: The Trauma Question. London: Routledge.
Micale, Mark S. and Paul Lerner eds. 2001: Traumatic Pasts. History, Psychiatry and Trauma in the Modern Age, 1870-1930. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Miller, David and Lucia Aiello eds. 2012: Journal of Literature and Trauma Studies, vol. 1 nr. 2.
Nadal, Marita and Mónica Calvo eds. 2014: Trauma in Contemporary Literature. Narrative and representation. New York: Routledge.
Onega, Susana and Jean-Michel Ganteau 2014: Contemporary Trauma Narratives. Liminality and the Ethics of Form. New York: Routledge.
van der Wiel, Reina 2014: Literary Aesthetics of Trauma. Virginia Woolf and Jeanette Winterson. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave, Macmillan.
Williams, Linda and Victoria Banyard eds. 1999: Trauma and Memory. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
Whitehead, Anne 2004: Trauma fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.