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date: 29 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The study of trauma in early twentieth-century psychoanalysis concluded that trauma survivors have been overwhelmed by traumatic events and so are unable to experience them and form memories of them, and thus unable to know the trauma. Trauma is thus relived rather than remembered, repetitively and uncontrollably forcing itself into victims’ lives through literal dreams of the events, flashbacks, and so on, appearing to the survivor as a foreign body that stands outside of the self. The study of trauma within the field of literary criticism developed out of psychoanalytical conclusions about it, and points out that literature of trauma reflects these psychological effects. In such literature, then, we find trauma continually repeating and, since it cannot be known, refusing to be controlled by narrative explanation. Trauma, in short, is anti-narrative. The study of trauma within sociology, however, is based on an understanding of trauma as something created by a society in order to explain past events and solidify social bonds. A sociological reading of trauma in the Deuteronomistic History (Dtr) focuses on the ways in which Dtr’s narrative makes the exiles’ traumatic experience of defeat and exile understandable and meaningful. This kind of explanation, however, has no real interest in healing the exiles’ psychological wounds. A literary reading of trauma in Dtr reveals trauma to be present in absences of explanation, deconstructing Dtr’s narrative certainty. It appears as intrusions into Dtr’s totalizing narrative, intrusions that put the writing’s explanatory certainties of divine justice on trial while refusing to provide a verdict.

Keywords: trauma, trauma theory, literary criticism, sociological criticism, Deuteronomistic History, narrative

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