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Sema Kara, M.A.

"Out of Wounds and Across Boundaries": Female Performances of Trauma in Irish and Diasporic Literature


Dissertation Abstract

The dissertation project sets out to investigate the performative potential and dimension of female trauma in contemporary Irish poetry, drama, and prose. For this purpose, I am undertaking a twofold critical analysis: on the one hand, I will illustrate how processes of globalization shape, complicate and ultimately re-configure the presentation of Irish postcoloniality and trauma in literature. On the other hand, I also intend to show how the gendered performativity of trauma in my selected works can be understood as a contestation of forces of globalization as a potentially totalizing metanarrative.
In order to evaluate the scope and significance of the Irish trauma of postcoloniality in times of 'global flows' (Appadurai), I endeavour to explicate the presentation of postcolonial trauma in my selected works as a 'willful' (Sara Ahmed) female performance that radically upsets and de-centers nationalist and postcolonial notions of being and belonging. I argue that the 'semiotic' (Kristeva) performance of trauma grants the female protagonists in my texts the possibility to rupture the discursive construction of female subjectivity in order to move beyond the ideological constraints of the patriarchal nation-state and create a hybrid, globalized, fluid identity which is not debilitated by the trauma of (post-)coloniality. As my use of trauma theory will deal with the impact of (post-)modernization, globalization, and biopolitics on the postcolonial Irish female literary subject, it becomes clear that the problem of individual psychic suffering gets tangled up with a range of sociocultural phenomena.
Specifically, my thesis will consider the bodily sphere of Irish postcolonial trauma and its performative dimension in the selected primary literature, therefore answering the call to focus on 'glocal' perspectives, on situated knowledge and local analyses. My study takes the terms 'situated' and 'local' literal: the traumatized body is situated as the corporeal local site of a transgressive struggle to resist a society shaped by biopolitics. My reparative reading of trauma will hence consider the effects and affects of transgressing ideological and corporeal boundaries, asking the questions: (1) how is the clinging to the trauma of the postcolonial situation a means to resistance? and (2) how can a globalized perspective help in refiguring the condition of trauma? Additionally, my approach aims at closing a research lacuna in psychoanalytical analyses of postcolonial trauma by juxtaposing a 'paranoid' approach with a reparative agenda by employing Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's deconstructive hermeneutic of reparative reading.

Short CV

Since 2015 PhD Candidate at the Research Training Group

2015: Research Assistent, English Literary and Cultural Studies, JMU Würzburg

2013-2015: Student Assistant and Lecturer at the Department of English Literary and Cultural Studies, JMU Würzburg

2014: Magister Artium Anglophone Cultural Studies, English Literary Studies and German Literary History,
JMU Würzburg