Postmemory as Trauma?:Some Theoretical Problems and Their Consequences for Contemporary Literary Criticism

O'Donoghue, Samuel (2018) Postmemory as Trauma?:Some Theoretical Problems and Their Consequences for Contemporary Literary Criticism. Passés Futurs (3). ISSN 2558-7935

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Abstract

Postmemory is often understood as a kind of inherited trauma. In literary criticism the concept has been mobilized as an authoritative endorsement of the social and psychological benefits of historical fiction. This article proposes that postmemory is divested of the trappings of trauma theory as a countermeasure against exaggerated claims for the value of historical fiction. It advocates a shift in our interpretation of Marianne Hirsch’s concept, arguing that postmemory is better conceived as the generation of historical consciousness in society, motivated not by trauma but by ethical concerns and the desire to engage in activism. In the context of contemporary fiction on the Spanish Civil War, the article illustrates the merits of this revised understanding of postmemory, which opens up a critical space for scholars to hold historical novelists to account.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Passés Futurs
ID Code:
166308
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
18 Feb 2022 09:50
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
04 Apr 2022 23:54