More than words : drama and spectrality for the articulation of trauma

Eva Gil Cuder


The anti-logocentric nature of traumatic memory has traditionally brought about the conclusion that there is an indestructible barrier separating trauma from understanding. The impossibility to find the right words to articulate the trauma or for the victim to come to terms with his traumatic experience has generated the assumption that neither witnesses, nor victims will be allowed to access their traumatic history due to its undecipherable character. With this taken for granted belief in mind, this paper analyzes three works by British playwrights Caryl Churchill, Sarah Daniels and Sarah Kane in which the female characters suffer from repeated traumatic regressions. I will argue that trauma finds a most appropriate means of expression in theatrical representation, as the genre allows for alternative means of articulation beyond verbal language and words (which, given their rational and necessarily limited dimension, do not offer a valid solution for the possible formulation of the repressed trauma). These authors evidence that theatrical language offers effective strategies to communicate the experience of trauma and that these anti-naturalistic rhetoric seems to be the best response to the chaotic and irrational nature of traumatic memory.



PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder); fantasy; anti-naturalistic aesthetics; traumatic memory; split self

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Copyright (c) 2012 Eva Gil Cuder

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© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

ISSN 1576-6357

EISSN 1695-4300