Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English: English Studies

First Advisor

Kirstin H. Zona


Split Wounds interrogates naturalized, normalized trauma wisdom—particularly the individualization and pathologization of sexualized trauma. Drawing on Foucault’s concept of discursive formation, explicated in The Archaeology of Knowledge as a set of conditions that enables history, this dissertation elucidates differing discursive formations of trauma in contemporary medical documents, literary texts, and films. The introductory chapter explicates how founding texts in the field of trauma theory construct trauma as a preverbal, psychological experience that can only be represented through fragmented, non-linear, anti-narrative textual strategies. Chapter two exposes such Euro-American modernist ideology in the American Psychiatric Association’s clinical definition of posttraumatic stress disorder outlined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which configures trauma as a personal failure to assimilate catastrophic events. Chapter three problematizes the pathologization of trauma survivors, illustrating how Stieg Larsson’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Niels Arden Oplev’s and David Fincher’s film adaptations condition us to perceive trauma as a systemic pathology that catalyzes feminist vigilantism. Chapter four demonstrates how collective acts of memorialization transform systemic pathologies that produce sexualized violence, showcasing co-created trauma testimonies in Nava Semel’s hybrid Nazi Holocaust novel, And the Rat Laughed. Split Wounds concludes with a fifth chapter that articulates rhetorical strategies for teaching traumatic texts, demonstrating how Alan Duff’s Once Were Warriors and Lee Tamahori’s film adaptation call upon students to bear witness to the ongoing trauma of internalized oppression rampant in indigenous groups colonized by Europeans.


Imported from ProQuest Johnston_ilstu_0092E_10784.pdf


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