This bilingual issue has a threefold purpose: to expose, map, and encounter the primary moment of the catastrophe from a Japanese perspective—made available here to most Anglophone readers for the first time. The concomitant and secondary effort is aimed at examining some of the patterns of evasion and repetition that characterize the suppressed moment of cultural and historical adaptation and reaction to the catastrophe, with the final hope of opening up the debates surrounding the critical responses to the atomic bombings, understood as one of the central traumatic “limit events” of our epoch, to an alternative set of cultural, critical, and literary perspectives.
This special issue stems from the international conference Trauma and Gender in Twentieth-Century European Literature, organized in March 2016 at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow under the aegis of the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare, and with the kind support of the Wellcome Trust.1 The studies included here explore how the axis between trauma and gender intersects in a range of narratives by men and women writers and filmmakers in twentieth-and twenty-first-century Europe. The issue discusses the ill-effects of war as experienced by soldiers but also its long-lasting impact on civilians as manifested in different forms of trauma. In other words, it looks, from the perspective of gender, into the expression of trauma caused either by the historical context (World War I, World War II, Francoism, etc.) or by personal events. In so doing, it is significant that some recurrent themes emerge, such as silence, rape, illness, death, and, indeed, the trauma of gender itself.
The articles here—focusing on the experience and manifestations of trauma in North African, Armenian, and Arab literatures— seek to articulate the relationships of trauma, suffering, and literature in critical and hermeneutic modes that are rooted in the contexts themselves. One strand that stands out in all the articles here is a concern with the “history” of suffering and the possible narration, poetic or prosaic, of the past and the struggle that must occur for the essential nature and significance of that suffering to emerge into clear and full historical recognition. This issue attempts to contribute to this necessity, incorporating articles that cover notions as diverse as the concept of “Levantine literature” and the status of the “voice” in a dialogue of Jewish and Arab literatures, the public role of the poet in relation to human rights and illegal incarceration, the gendering of the Algerian national liberation struggle, and the conceptual and literary significance of the attempted Armenian genocide. All these articles attest to a strong sense of an expanding perspective and the renewing force of literature and trauma studies as it establishes its conceptual vigour and literary and intellectual significance.
Guest Editors: Emmanuel Alloa, Pierre Bayard, Soko Phay
From the Guest Editors' Introduction:
"The concept of postmemory has received some attention over the past few years in the field of literary and memory studies and beyond. Like the conference before it, this special issue seeks to assess the concept’s diagnostic relevance for dealing with the question of the aftermath of extreme violence. Taking as its starting point the genocidal experience of the Holocaust, the special issue asks what it would mean to apply the notion of “postmemory” to other cases of traumatic memory in the 20th century: in particular, the genocides perpetrated in Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Bosnia. Although wide-ranging in temporal distance from the present, all of these cases raise the question of how memories of such traumatic events remain active even among those who have not personally witnessed them, as well as the question of how to address these sorts of indirect memories."
From the Editor's Introduction:
"The articles presented here range from major reinterpretations of the seminal works of trauma and literature study to considerations of the demands of class on the major categories of trauma analysis, the role of figurative and poetic language in trauma testimony and theory, and the interlocking of hermeneutics, trauma theory, and theology. These articles mark both a return to primary ethical concerns and a renewed theoretical energy." (D. Miller)