English R1B

Reading and Composition: The History of Trauma; The Trauma of History

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2007 Popkin, Suzanne
MWF 2-3 103 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Harriet Jacobs, Incidents In The Life of a Slave Girl

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close : A Novel

Elie Wiesel, Night

Elie Wiesel, Day: A Novel

Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl

Paul Celan, selected poetry

A reader to include theoretical and historical articles. "


Trauma, in its essence, is paradoxical. On the one hand, it yearns to be inscribed, even broadcast; on the other, it often stubbornly refuses inscription. This course will examine how literature has grappled with this paradox of trauma. Why do trauma survivors have so much trouble putting their experience to words? What form does literature take when it is subject to this struggle? We will look at a wide array of texts associated with historical traumas in order to examine these questions. In particular, we will focus on literature that has emerged from slavery, the Holocaust, and 9/11. As we trace the development of trauma and literature, we will follow what it teaches us about nation, ethics and identity.

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