Date of Award

11-19-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Chris Kocela - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Marilynn Richtarik

Third Advisor

Dr. Nancy Chase

Abstract

Two of Don DeLillo’s recently published novels, The Body Artist (2001) and Falling Man (2007), feature performance artists performing trauma. Through the bodies of these performers, DeLillo restates the central concern of trauma studies: if trauma is that which denies mediation, how may we speak about traumatic experience? DeLillo’s stagings of traumatic (re)iterations illustrate how the missed originary moment of trauma precludes directly referential content in traumatic representation. But I propose that performed trauma – the knowledge of forgetting addressed to another – recapitulates the structure of traumatic experience itself, thereby revealing trauma to be wholly constituted in repetition, and providing a means of speaking about the unspeakable. I hope to illustrate how restoring trauma to language revives the ethical and political efficacy of traumatic representation.

Share

COinS