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Contemporary American Trauma Narratives

Alan Gibbs

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Winner of the 2015 Irish Association for American Studies Peggy O'Brien Book Prize

Examines the representation of trauma in contemporary American fiction and non-fiction

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Part 1. Traumatic Forms
1. 'Classical' American Trauma Narratives
2. Traumatic Metafiction and the Inscribed Narrator
Part 2: Traumatic Themes
3. 9/11 and the Postmodernists' Response
4. The Iraq Wars: Testimony, Perpetrators and Adaptation
5. The Bush Administration and Counterfactual Histories

About the Author

Alan Gibbs is Lecturer in English (American) Literature at University College Cork. He has published over a dozen journal articles on subjects including Roth and Steinbeck, was the guest editor for a 115-page special edition of 'The Journal of the Short Story in English' devoted to the work of Henry Roth, and is the author of Henry Roth's Mercy of a Rude Stream (1994-98): The Second Career of an American Novelist (Mellen Press 2008).


(A)n impressive survey of trauma narratives of diverse formal, generic, and stylistic qualities, whose main concern is to study literary representations of traumatic historical events in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
- Agata Preis-Smith, University of Warsaw, Polish Journal for American Studies, Vol 9

Alan Gibbs’s Contemporary American Trauma Narratives delivers a powerful critique of key trauma-theoretical tenets—belatedness, literality, punctuality, non-narratability, and victim-centredness—and makes an eloquent case for trauma scholarship in the humanities to become more flexible, responsive, and pluralistic. Bold, lucid, and meticulously argued, it is a major intervention in the field and deserves a wide readership.

- Stef Craps, Ghent University

Gibbs drives a cart and horses through the conventional critical orthodoxies of trauma theory, demonstrating the decisive challenge offered by contemporary American writers. Brimming with fresh insights, rigorously argued and covering a wide range of contemporary narratives, the book sets a new agenda for the study of trauma and literature.

- Judie Newman, University of Nottingham