This book examines posttraumatic autobiographical projects, elucidating the complex relationship between the ‘science of trauma’ (and how that idea is understood across various scientific disciplines), and the rhetorical strategies of fragmentation, dissociation, reticence and repetitive troping widely used the representation of traumatic experience. From autobiographical fictions to prison poems, from witness testimony to autography, and from testimonio to war memorials, otherwise dissimilar projects speak of past suffering through a limited and even predictable discourse in search of healing. Drawing on approaches from literary, human rights and cultural studies that highlight relations between trauma, language, meaning and self-hood, and the latest research on the science of trauma from the fields of clinical, behavioral and evolutionary psychology and neuroscience, I read such autobiographical projects not as ‘symptoms’ but as complex interrogative negotiations of trauma and its aftermath: commemorative and performative narratives navigating aesthetic, biological, cultural, linguistic and emotional pressure and inspiration.
Meg Jensen is Associate Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing and Director of the Life Narrative Research Group at Kingston University. In 2014 she co-edited a major collection, Life Narratives and Human Rights, with Margaretta Jolly. She lives in London with her lovely family and two rather stupid cats.