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Reading Trauma Narratives

The Contemporary Novel and the Psychology of Oppression
Laurie Vickroy

BUY Cloth · 216 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813937373 · $59.50 · Oct 2015
BUY Paper · 216 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813937380 · $24.50 · Oct 2015
BUY Ebook · 216 pp. · ISBN 9780813937397 · $24.50 · Oct 2015

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, American Library Association (2015)

As part of the contemporary reassessment of trauma that goes beyond Freudian psychoanalysis, Laurie Vickroy theorizes trauma in the context of psychological, literary, and cultural criticism. Focusing on novels by Margaret Atwood, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Jeanette Winterson, and Chuck Palahniuk, she shows how these writers try to enlarge our understanding of the relationship between individual traumas and the social forces of injustice, oppression, and objectification. Further, she argues, their work provides striking examples of how the devastating effects of trauma—whether sexual, socioeconomic, or racial—on individual personality can be depicted in narrative.

Vickroy offers a unique blend of interpretive frameworks. She draws on theories of trauma and narrative to analyze the ways in which her selected texts engage readers both cognitively and ethically—immersing them in, and yet providing perspective on, the flawed thinking and behavior of the traumatized and revealing how the psychology of fear can be a driving force for individuals as well as for society. Through this engagement, these writers enable readers to understand their own roles in systems of power and how they internalize the ideologies of those systems.


In Reading Trauma Narratives, Laurie Vickroy successfully brings together different disciplinary perspectives, including contemporary psychological, cognitive, narrative, and ethical scholarship. This is a perceptive, timely, and challenging work and a welcome addition to the study of trauma, trauma literature, and the representation of the traumatized character in literature.

J. Brooks Bouson, Loyola University of Chicago, author of Embodied Shame: Uncovering Female Shame in Contemporary Women’s Writings

About the Author(s): 

Laurie Vickroy, Professor of English at Bradley University, is author of Trauma and Survival in Contemporary Fiction (Virginia).

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