Tag Archives: Trauma theory

While I was in Graz, the wonderful Barbara Belic interviewed me for her literary program series on Austrian public radio, “Radio Helsinki.” Listen to me read a few sections from my new novel—two lengthy sections in English and the rest in German—and explain why I’m against the category “autofiction”—why it fails to see so much of the actual art of a book.

Listen here.


“Ein Kaffeefleck auf dem weißen Herd, Spuren im überfrorenen Schnee: Es sind Alltagsbeobachtungen, aus denen Andrea Scrima in ihrem neuen Roman Poesie schöpft. Präzise, ästhetische Beschreibungen rufen Bilder vor unser inneres Auge, die vertraut sind – und die wir doch so noch nie gesehen haben. Sie werden zu Metaphern für die Zeit, das Kommen und Gehen unserer Erinnerungen.”

— Anne Kohlick, Deutschlandfunk Kultur

Read and listen to the review here (in German language).

“The Weaponization of Language”: an essay on trauma theory, mass communication, the somatization of guilt, and what Mary McCarthy already knew seventy years ago after watching Nixon’s “Checkers Speech” — in LitHub

In the 1990s, trauma theory, most notably that of Cathy Caruth, Judith Herman, Shoshana Felman, and Kirby Farrell, expanded the literary criticism of cultural trauma—based as it was on the Holocaust and the psychological interpretations of its aftermath—to encompass a broader range of subsequent political events that have greatly impacted contemporary society. Caruth drew on the neurological insights of Bessel van der Kolk to assert that trauma, because it so overwhelms the psyche’s capacity for normal perception and memory formation, remains unassimilated and takes its place outside language. The result is a blind spot that is essentially unknown to the traumatized individual, who nevertheless compulsively reenacts it in the form of flashbacks, involuntary bodily responses, phobic reactions, deluded ideation, etc.

While the biological metaphor—the notion that the mechanisms of individual trauma and its somatization can be applied to the pathological symptoms of the larger social body—is not a code for deciphering every troubling feature of the culture, it can nonetheless be instrumental for analyzing phenomena that otherwise defy interpretation, including the enabling fictions that American society, in spite of ample evidence to the contrary, creates to reinforce its fundamental beliefs about itself and to justify itself when its behavior transgresses its own declared moral boundaries.

— continue reading in LitHub