"The term trauma fiction represents a paradox or contradiction: if trauma comprises an event or experience which overwhelms the individual and resists language or representation, how then can it be made into a narrative, made into fiction?" from Anne Whitehead's Trauma Fiction.
Telling stories is one of the main ways in which we make sense of our experiences. But what happens when experience is so harrowing that it overpowers the emotions and cannot be encompassed by the mind? What kind of stories can contain, explain and perhaps even transcend horrors that overwhelm human consciousness? In this course we will read a range of fictional responses to trauma and hysteria and think about the relationship between narrative and memory. Can fiction provide what novelist Pat Barker calls regeneration - the recovery of psychic and emotional wholeness in the wake of shattering events? Students who have taken ENGL 401 Trauma and Memory in Literature cannot take this course.