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Symptoms of contemporary performance
Author: Patrick Duggan

It is interesting that while A. D. Nuttall's investigations in Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure? focus mainly on ancient and Elizabethan tragedies, he decides to answer the question of his title in the mid-1990s. While trauma has long been the subject of scholarly attention in many other fields, very little has been written on the subject in the context of theatre and performance. Trauma, like performance, is a complex and polysemic phenomenon. Raymond Williams' writings, particularly Modern Tragedy (1966), and his idea of 'structure of feeling' have proved both profitable and influential in the development of the research presented in this book. The book critically traces a particular, 'performative' genealogy of trauma theory through Jean-Martin Charcot and Freud to Cathy Caruth and other contemporary theorists. It addresses the theatrics of Charcot's practice as a means both of articulating the performative lineage of trauma theory and to suggest that trauma symptoms are themselves performative in nature. The book also argues that Williams' notion of 'structure of feeling' can be used to identify a contemporary, societal 'psychic' trauma (in the West) which pervades daily existence. The possibility that live performance can put the spectator into an experience of trauma's central paradox is explored. The book discusses what it means to witness and to be witnessed in the context of trauma in performance. Audience experience, the events of Abu Ghraib, and specific instances of theatrical trauma are discussed. Finally, the book considers questions of ethics in relation to performance which addresses 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.

Patrick Duggan

1 Trauma’s performative genealogy ‘Daddy!’ she screams. ‘Daddy!’ – Her voice is snatched away by the boom of the surf. Her father turns aside, with a word She cannot hear. She chokes – Hands are cramming a gag into her mouth. They bind it there with cord, like a horse’s bit […] Now rough hands rip off her silks And the wind waltzes with them Down across the beach, and over the surf. Her eyes swivel in their tears. She recognises her killers. (Aeschylus 1999: 15) On 22 February 2007 I read an article detailing the gang rape of a fourteen-year-old Iraqi girl and

in Trauma-tragedy
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A structure of feeling
Patrick Duggan

2 Trauma-tragedy: a structure of feeling In 1971, Chris Burden stood five metres away from a friend who shot him with a .22 calibre rifle. The bullet was only supposed to graze his arm but Burden flinched slightly as the gun was fired, moving his arm fully into the path of the oncoming bullet. It pierced his skin, tore through his bicep and exited through the flesh on the back of his arm. Shoot has become one of Burden’s best known works and he said of the piece that ‘it seems that bad art is theatre […] Getting shot is for real […] there’s no element of

in Trauma-tragedy
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Angela Lait

trauma theorists, drawing on Freudian psychoanalysis, describe the traumatic position as one of stasis and silence in which narration is an essential vehicle for recovery leading to the capacity for action and psychological well-being (Mukherjee, 2001 : 49–62, citing Caruth et al.). Notwithstanding the use of the term ‘trauma’ to refer mostly to highly dramatic and disturbing experience, it is defined more

in Telling tales
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Women in the Vietnam War
Carol Acton and Jane Potter

5 Claiming trauma: women in the Vietnam War The Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, DC is an isolated island of suffering (Figure  5.1). Placed at a distance from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – the Wall– and the ‘Three Soldiers’ statue, it exists outside these more traditionally masculine commemorative narratives of war: the warrior and the dead (see Figures 5.2 and 5.3). Instead, it depicts the women’s war story, particularly that of the nurse. She is locked forever in the moment of holding the dying soldier – a pietà in which there is no redemption

in Working in a world of hurt
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The father’s death and the sea
Julie Campbell

Beckett and trauma 23 1 Beckett and trauma: the father’s death and the sea Julie Campbell Recent discussions of trauma This chapter begins by focusing on trauma in relation to recent discussions concerning the causes and symptoms of a traumatic reaction to an event. The website ‘Emotional and Psychological Trauma: Causes, Symptoms, Help’ contends that ‘[i]t’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic but [the] subjective emotional experience of the event’ (Robinson, Smith and Segal, 1). This is very useful, as it cautions against

in Samuel Beckett and trauma
Ruth Barton

criticism, here the narrowmindedness of the Catholic hierarchy, with a seductively photographed vision of small-town Ireland in the era of rural electrification. The release of Stella Days was more of an anachronism than a trend, with few contemporary Irish filmmakers interested in replicating its aesthetic. Instead, the early twenty-first century witnessed the release of a series of high-profile history films that revisited the past as a site of trauma. A number of these dealt with the Troubles (and are discussed in the next chapter). Of the remainder – The

in Irish cinema in the twenty-first century
Has illiberalism brought the West to the brink of collapse?
Series: Pocket Politics

The West of which we speak is defined by the values of liberal democracy, individual freedom, human rights, tolerance and equality under the rule of law. This book explores how Islamist terror and Russian aggression as companion threats to the West when terrorists target Russia as well as the United States and its allies. The threats posed by Islamist terror and Russian aggression present themselves in very different ways. In the time of transatlantic traumas, the Islamist terrorist threat and the Russian threat have worked diligently and with some success. The book examines the hatred of Islamists towards Western democracies, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union for their involvement in the Middle East politics for several decades. There is no single explanation for the rising popularity of illiberalism in the Western democracies; a combination of factors has produced a general sense of malaise. The book discusses the sources of discontent prevailing in the Western countries, and looks at the rise of Trumpism, Turkey and its Western values as well as the domestic tensions between Turkey's political parties. It suggests a radical centrist populist Western strategy could be applied to deal with the threats and challenges, reinvigorating the Western system. The book also touches upon suggestions relating to illiberalism in Europe, Turkey's drift away from the West, and the Brexit referendum.

David Bolton

This chapter describes the Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma and Transformation (NICTT)’s training development and delivery programmes over ten years, focusing in particular on vocational training. The aim was to build the skills base of existing practitioners by providing a number of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and trauma-related skills courses. The approach taken was

in Conflict, peace and mental health