Slide 1: My Thesis proposal is on trauma within the fiction of Sherman Alexie and Leslie Marmon Silko. Within my thesis, If only to look at Native American literature with the lens of trauma theory.
Slide 2: First, I must discuss trauma studies before I proceed to discussing trauma with regards to Native American literature.
Applying trauma theory to Native American literature might be considered problematic for several reasons.
Critics consider trauma fiction to become a paradox if the expertise of a traumatic event resists language and representation then how will it be narrativised in fiction.
Craps and Buelens accentuate the “Eurocentric blind spots of trauma theory” (10) by using it concentrate on the Holocaust.
Also, Van Styvendale contends that imposing an Euroamerican framework on Native people and taking advantage of the nomenclature of trauma risks “the danger of revictimization” (206)
Slide 3: Trauma could be divided directly into three groups: personal, cultural and historic trauma. You will find connections in between each and all sorts of are highly relevant to the whole shebang of Alexie and Silko.
Slide 4: Neil Smelser, in Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity, defines cultural trauma as “an invasive and overwhelming event that’s thought to undermine or overwhelm one or more essential ingredients of the culture or of the culture in general.” (38)
Historic trauma can also be known as intergenerational trauma since it is a cumulative emotional and mental wounding across generations that hails from massive group trauma encounters.
Dori Laub observes that “the trauma from the holocaust comes through the kids of the holocaust survivors” (qtd.
in Van Styvendale 219)
Durran, Durran and Braveheart maintain that intergenerational trauma exists because it’s effects manifest themselves through present-day symptomatology”. Included in this are alcoholism, suicide, and violence, that are prominent styles in Alexie’s work.
Slide 5: There’s links between psyche and history since the traumatic past is transported forward in to the present.
Alanis Obomsawin highlights the traumatic memory within the collective psyche of Indigenous Peoples by saying: “We’re transporting a discomfort that’s 400 years of age.”
Cecil White-colored Hat states: “PTSD happens around a celebration, a celebration having a beginning and finish. For Native people, the trauma continues. There hasn’t been an end”.
This inheritance of trauma, also is referred to as “the survivor’s child complex” is apparent in Jewish survivors from the Holocaust.
Kirbey Farell shows that it results in what he calls a “post-traumatic culture” and i believe this culture is apparent within the works of Alexie and Silko.
Slide 6: In addition, I believe historic trauma may also define identity because in fiction coping with trauma the protagonist operates to express a distinctive personal trauma however the protagonist also conveys a collective experience. Therefore the protagonist magnifies a historic event felt by a collective.
Slide 7: This really is apparent in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony. The protagonist Tayo functions like a cultural figure to intensify the historic event of Native American genocide through Native American participation in World war 2.
Tayo returns from World war 2 with Post traumatic stress disorder because of a particular war event relating to the dying of his brother, Rocky. Sophie Croisy maintains that “Tayo’s traumatic web is intermingled using the web of existence, the net of history.” (89) Silko’s Tayo shows that personal and historic trauma is interconnected and contributes for the formation of identity.
Slide 8: In addition, in Alexie’s Indian Killer. In “Mythology”, the very first chapter, John Cruz recreates the scene of his birth and returns towards the trauma of his adoption but he reconstructs it as being a kidnapping. Van Styvendale asserts the fictionalization of John’s traumatic story alludes towards the tenet in trauma studies that trauma can’t be known or symbolized directly. Therefore, it may simply be “represented not directly through it’s narrativization.” Anne Whitehead contests this tenet in her own book Trauma Fiction.
Slide 9: Alexie within an interview with Tomson Highway notes that John Cruz goes mad throughout it. Critics interpret John’s schizophrenia like a metaphor for his fragmented subjectivity.
Also, the trend within the novel, that is apparent in the eye gouging and scalping might be regarded as associated with trauma since it is an intergenerational anger.
Alexie states: “The U . s . States is really a colony and I’m going to create like one that is colonized, and that’s with many different anger”. This demonstrates again the results of historic trauma and how it’s expressed in Native American literature.
Slide 10: However, there’s a division within the critics’ camp about personal and collective trauma. Craps and Buelens observe that typically study regarding trauma concentrates on individual psychology but colonial trauma is “a collective experience”.
Somewhere, you’ve LaCapra, Erikson and Hutcheon who assume an unproblematic translation from individual to collective trauma.
On the other hand, Llyod, Saunders and Aghaie warn that the simple metaphorical extension might be reductive and politically irresponsible.
Slide 10: Conclusion: I believe trauma theory is helpful to understand colonial trauma. Novels that cope with trauma convey emotional states through a range of narrative innovations and methods. For example landscape imagery and pathetic fallacy a nonlinear plot and disrupting temporal sequences convey the down sides in representing trauma and also the confusion connected by using it.