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Title: Trauma and representation in women's diaries of the Second World War
Author: Richardson, M. Ravenel
ISNI:       0000 0004 2723 0017
Awarding Body: University of St Andrews
Current Institution: University of St Andrews
Date of Award: 2012
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As a transnational contribution to the study of life-writing and to the understanding of women's war experiences, ‘Trauma and Representation in Women's Diaries of the Second World War' examines women's war diaries from the point of view of trauma studies. It provides new readings of established texts, such as Frances Partridge's A Pacifist's War and Etty Hillesum's An Interrupted Life, alongside previously unexamined archival diaries and several recently published diaries that have received little critical attention to date. Through close reading, it analyses how traumatic registers, ranging from mild to severe, manifest in both the genesis and subject matter of women's diaries. The Introduction discusses the post-war cultural imperatives that have worked to repress women's accounts of the Second World War, particularly those which describe devastation in the domestic sphere. It situates diary writing contextually within the field of autobiographical writing, exploring the characteristics of this contested genre and questioning the possibilities it opens up for the conveyance of traumatic experience. Finally, it provides a brief historiography of trauma studies, focusing on the complicated relationship between trauma and modern warfare and the difficulties traumatic experience poses for testimony. In the ensuing chapters, my analyses demonstrate the various ways war trauma manifests in women's diaries. Chapter One examines the physiological and psychological costs of repeated exposure to violent situations such as bomb raids and rape through a combination of psychoanalytic and neurobiological discourses on trauma. Chapter Two discusses diaries that were kept at a relative distance from violent conflict, exploring women's affective responses to the changes in their lives that occurred during wartime through theories of depression and melancholia. Finally, Chapter Three constitutes a final analysis of the relationship between trauma and representation, analysing women's descriptions of both the physical and societal abjection that proliferated towards the end of the war.
Supervisor: Sellers, Susan. ; Plain, Gill. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available