© 2019

The Art and Science of Trauma and the Autobiographical

Negotiated Truths

  • Draws on a wealth of material, from autobiographical fiction (Ballard, Kerouac, Woolf, Nabokov etc) to prison poems, from witness testimony to autography, and from testimonio to war memorials and monuments

  • Interdisciplinary - relevant to contemporary debates in literature, psychology, global politics, psychology, neuroscience etc

  • Demonstrates that incorporating insights from literature and cultural studies, human rights, psychology and neuroscience, is the best way to develop effective narrative-based writing therapies for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related disorders

Palgrave Macmillan

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Life Writing book series (PSLW)

About this book


This book examines posttraumatic autobiographical projects, elucidating the complex relationship between the ‘science of trauma’ (and how that idea is understood across various scientific disciplines), and the rhetorical strategies of fragmentation, dissociation, reticence and repetitive troping widely used the representation of traumatic experience. From autobiographical fictions to prison poems, from witness testimony to autography, and from testimonio to war memorials, otherwise dissimilar projects speak of past suffering through a limited and even predictable discourse in search of healing. Drawing on approaches from literary, human rights and cultural studies that highlight relations between trauma, language, meaning and self-hood, and the latest research on the science of trauma from the fields of clinical, behavioral and evolutionary psychology and neuroscience, I read such autobiographical projects not as ‘symptoms’ but as complex interrogative negotiations of trauma and its aftermath: commemorative and performative narratives navigating aesthetic, biological, cultural, linguistic and emotional pressure and inspiration.


Life Writing Woolf Mass Observation Archive Ballard Kerouac British and Irish Literature

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Kingston UniversityKingston Upon ThamesUK

About the authors

Meg Jensen is Associate Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing and Director of the Life Narrative Research Group at Kingston University. In 2014 she co-edited a major collection, Life Narratives and Human Rights, with Margaretta Jolly. She lives in London with her lovely family and two rather stupid cats.

Bibliographic information