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Trauma and skin in Watt
Michiko Tshushima

Michiko Tsushima’s chapter discloses the relationship between trauma and skin in considering Watt as a ‘skin of words’ woven by Beckett—a psychic skin that he tried to recover—and, at the same time, as something that reveals the ‘force and truth’ of trauma. First, with the help of Didier Anzieu’s concept of ‘the Skin Ego’, Tsushima explores the possibility that Beckett’s act of writing Watt can be considered an attempt to recover the psychic skin by weaving a ‘skin of words’. This act of writing has a therapeutic aspect. She also argues that Watt explores the ‘force and truth’ of trauma which cannot be resolved or assimilated. Tsushima shows how the ‘force and truth’ of trauma manifests itself as a violence to the surface of language, a force that disrupts the apparatus of linguistic representation.

in Samuel Beckett and trauma

Samuel Beckett and trauma is a collection of essays that opens new approaches to Beckett’s literary and theoretical work through the lens of trauma studies. Beginning with biographical and intertextual readings of instances of trauma in Beckett’s works, the essays take up performance studies, philosophical and cultural understanding of post-traumatic subjectivity, and provide new perspectives that will expand and alter current trauma studies.

Chapter 1 deals with a whole range of traumatic symptoms in Beckett’s personal experiences which find their ways into a number of his works. Chapter 2 investigates traumatic symptoms experienced by actors on stage. Chapter 3 examines the problem of unspeakability by focusing on the face which illuminates the interface between Beckett’s work and trauma theory. Chapter 4 explores the relationship between trauma and skin – a psychic skin that reveals the ‘force and truth’ of trauma, a force that disrupts the apparatus of representation. Chapter 5 considers trauma caused by a bodily defect such as tinnitus. Chapter 6 focuses on the historically specific psychological structure in which a wounded subject is compelled to stick to ordinary life in the aftermath of some traumatic calamity. Chapter 7 provides a new way of looking at birth trauma by using the term as ‘creaturely life’ that is seen in the recent biopolitical discourses. Chapter 8 speculates on how Beckett’s post-war plays, responding to the nuclear age’s global trauma, resonate with ethical and philosophical thoughts of today’s post-Cold War era.

Abstract only
Mariko Hori Tanaka
,
Yoshiki Tajiri
, and
Michiko Tshushima
in Samuel Beckett and trauma