Tracing Trauma: Histories and Intermediality in Sherman Alexie´s Fiction

Åse Nygren
Blekinge Institute of technology, Sweden

Ladda ner artikelhttp://www.ep.liu.se/ecp_article/index.en.aspx?issue=025;article=049

Ingår i: Inter: A European Cultural Studies : Conference in Sweden 11-13 June 2007

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 25:49, s. 457-461

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Publicerad: 2007-11-27


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


This paper examines the ways in which Sherman Alexie’s fiction traces; and bears witness to; a collective trauma in the aftermath of what Russell Thornton has called the “American Indian Holocaust.” My claims that literature may provide instances of witnessing are informed by Dominick LaCapra’s discussions of the complex issue of truth claims with regards to the representation of traumatic events; and his discussions on what differentiates history from fiction. In exploring the link between history and theory with reference to trauma in Alexie’s fiction; this paper argues in line with LaCapra that trauma has a historic specificity; and thus a limited affect. As fiction allows for trauma to be cathartically and narratively mastered; fiction is also able to capture elements of experiences and emotions that are; in a sense; non-narrative. In its ability to evoke a historical trauma as a radical problem for understanding; fiction may thus; paradoxically; communicate what is inherently wordless. As Alexie’s narratives reflect “[t]he paradoxical impossibility and simultaneous necessity to represent; to communicate; to speak of suffering;” his fiction becomes an Inter-Medium for real histories.


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