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Time, Body, Memory: The Staged Moment in Posttraumatic Letters, Journals, Essays, and Memoirs

  • Meg Jensen
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Life Writing book series (PSLW)

Abstract

Jensen offers a detailed examination of the temporal narrative swerves that appear in much autobiographical literary nonfiction composed in the aftermath of traumatic experience: memoirs, letters, diaries, and essays. Uniquely in the case of posttraumatic stress disorder, one can not only recall a past event but also reexperience it fully in both mind and body. Flashbacks bring the past viscerally into the present. Drawing on the latest neuroscientific findings on the interactions of “time cells” and memory in posttraumatic brains, Jensen demonstrates how an analysis of nonfiction works by Vladimir Nabokov, JG Ballard, Virginia Woolf, Jack Kerouac, and Julia Alvarez alongside these scientific findings adds to and complicates our understanding of the temporal narrative dynamics through which painful experience can be negotiated in the aftermath of trauma. Moreover, it will posit one possible origin for each of these writer’s emblematic representations of a complex trope: the body in time.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kingston UniversityKingston upon ThamesUK

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