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Title: Elizabeth Bowen and the writing of trauma
Author: Gildersleeve, Jessica
ISNI:       0000 0004 2691 4484
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis explores Elizabeth Bowen's fiction as an extension and a disturbance of existing models of trauma theory. It investigates the writing of trauma in Bowen's novels and a selection of her short fiction, with particular emphasis on how such writing elucidates the operation of memory and secrets in literature. This analysis of Bowen's fiction as a representation of trauma finds that her work simultaneously anticipates and complicates deconstructive and psychoanalytic models of trauma, as well as trauma's disruptive properties in reading and writing narrative. While some critics have recognized the significance of memory and the past for Bowen's writing, the ways in which these incorporate and are inflected by ideas about trauma and about narrative have not been explored. By addressing Bowen's work in terms of its relation to trauma theory, this single-author study seeks to fill a gap in existing criticism on Bowen, as well as to develop wider discussion of the nature of trauma in and as literature. Deconstructive and psychoanalytic readings of Bowen's fiction alongside the theoretical material of, in particular, Jacques Derrida, Helene Cixous, Julia Kristeva, and Sigmund Freud, reveal the ways in which these novels and short stories think through the psychological, narratological, and linguistic implications of trauma. The project arises at the intersection of Bowen studies, contemporary trauma studies, and critical theory, to propose a new way of reading Bowen's fiction, and further illumination of the writing of trauma. The thesis attempts to shed new light on Bowen's writing as well as on her critical reception, and contributes to the current body of work on trauma theory in narrative.
Supervisor: Bennett, Andrew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available