Embodied Testimonies, Gendered Memories, and the Poetics of Trauma

Exploring the Intersection of Deconstructionist and Postcolonial Trauma Theory

Maryam Ghodrati, Rachel Dale (Eds.)

by James E. Young (University of Massachusetts Amherst), Layla AlAmmar (American University of Kuwait, Kuwait), Nora E. H. Parr (University of Birmingham), Concetta Principe (Trent University)

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"Embodied Testimonies, Gendered Memories, and the Poetics of Trauma" is a collection of academic essays that uses mainstream and postcolonial trauma theory in the analysis of literary and artistic representations of traumatic history. This collection prioritizes historical and personal accounts from the perspectives of Iranian, Arab, Jewish, and Black women to highlight the ways in which gender, race, and religion shape experiences of trauma. By drawing attention to individual experiences of suffering — both visible and invisible — the authors reconsider the basis for collective and socio-political engagement. The book re-examines established postcolonial trauma theory, which can occasionally overemphasize the collectivity of traumatic experience and subsume individual stories under ideological nationalism. Each chapter in this collection explores methods of balancing the pain of the individual and the community through analyses of art, literature, and film. Together, these chapters demonstrate the importance of embracing a dynamic and diverse approach to the representation of trauma that makes marginalized survivors visible while also recognizing the complexities of gendered and racialized experiences of trauma.

List of Figures
Maryam Ghodrati
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Rachel Dale
Brandeis University

Chapter 1 Embodied Testimonies: Institutional Ecstasy, Individual Agony, and Visual Representation of the Body at War
Maryam Ghodrati
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Chapter 2 Regarding the Pain of Women: Gender and the Arts of Holocaust Memory
James E. Young
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Chapter 3 Refuge in the Imaginary: War Trauma and the Limits of Language in Ghada Samman’s Kawābīs Beirut and Samar Yazbek’s Planet of Clay
Layla AlAmmar
American University of Kuwait (AUK)
Chapter 4 Speaking Trauma from within Catastrophe: Re-scripting Psychoanalysis in The Search for Walid Masoud
Nora E. H. Parr
University of Birmingham
Chapter 5 Messianic Remnants and Beasts of the Southern Wild
Concetta Principe
Trent University


Dr. Ghodrati's research interests span across trauma studies, literary theory, women's studies, film studies, and contemporary Middle Eastern and diaspora studies. She teaches courses on trauma and creative imagination, body politics and social justice, as well as gender and sexuality in global literature at Emerson College. She has published translations of war poetry, and her forthcoming article will be featured in a special issue of Iranian Studies published by Cambridge University Press in 2024.
Rachel R. Dale holds a Master’s degree in English from Brandeis University (2020) and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in contemporary global Anglophone literature at the same institution. Concurrently, she teaches courses on trauma treatment and PTSD at the Van Loan School of Professional Studies at Endicott College. Her research examines the detrimental effects of industrial and economic development projects, drawing on the perspectives of contemporary (sur)realist authors like Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh, and NoViolet Bulawayo, among others.

Trauma, postcolonial, refugee, literature, art, psychoanalysis, Arabic literature, Palestine, Holocaust, Iran-Iraq War, women, violence, recovery, memory

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Embodied Testimonies, Gendered Memories, and the Poetics of Trauma

Book Subtitle

Exploring the Intersection of Deconstructionist and Postcolonial Trauma Theory





Number of pages


Physical size



18 B&W

Publication date

July 2024