Cover for MILLER: Extremities: Trauma, Testimony, and Community. Click for larger image


Trauma, Testimony, and Community

How do we come to terms with what can't be forgotten? How do we bear witness to extreme experiences that challenge the limits of language? This remarkable volume explores the emotional, political, and aesthetic dimensions of testimonies to trauma as they translate private anguish into public space. Nancy K. Miller and Jason Tougaw have assembled a collection of essays that trace the legacy of the Holocaust and subsequent events that have shaped twentieth-century history and still haunt contemporary culture.

Extremities combines personal and scholarly approaches to a wide range of texts that bear witness to shocking and moving accounts of individual trauma: Toni Morrison's Beloved, Sylvia Plath's "Daddy" and "Lady Lazarus," Kathryn Harrison's The Kiss, Tatana Kellner's Holocaust art, Ruth Klüger's powerful memoir Still Alive, and Binjamin Wilkomirski's controversial narrative of concentration camp suffering Fragments. The book grapples with the cultural and social effects of historical crises, including the Montreal Massacre, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the medical catastrophes of HIV/AIDS and breast cancer.

Developing insights from autobiography, psychoanalysis, feminist theory and gender studies, the authors demonstrate that testimonies of troubling and taboo subjects do more than just add to the culture of confession–-they transform identities and help reimagine the boundaries of community. Extremities offers an original and timely interpretive guide to the growing field of trauma studies. The volume includes essays by Ross Chambers, Sandra M. Gilbert, Susan Gubar, Marianne Hirsch, Wayne Koestenbaum, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and others.

"A powerful contribution to the understanding of trauma through the primary lens of autobiography and memoir. . . .This impressive volume offers not only a theoretical vocabulary rich in its suggestiveness–-orphaned memory and foster-writing, writing wrong and writing pain, communities of risk and moral hospitality, traumatic realism and traumatic experience as citation, witnessing by adoption and feminist postmemory–-it also holds fast to the hope of community fostered on common grounds."--Kathleen Woodward, director of the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington

"Extremities offers fresh perspectives on a subject of urgent public concern: the experience of trauma in our lives and the problems it poses for those who write and read it."--Paul John Eakin, author of How Our Lives Become Stories: Making Selves

"This collection beautifully answers the demand for an ethical rhetoric in the rapidly proliferating field of trauma studies. Neither exploiting nor titillating, Extremities seriously and sensitively explores the devastating wounds to our private and public worlds, their consequences, and our potential for recuperation."--Claire Kahane, author of Passions of the Voice: Hysteria, Narrative, and the Figure of the Speaking Woman

Nancy K. Miller is Distinguished Professor of English and comparative literature at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is the author of Bequest and Betrayal: Memoirs of a Parent's Death and But Enough about Me: Why We Read Other People's Lives. Jason Tougaw is lecturer at Princeton University and the author of numerous scholarly articles.

To order online:

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
Shaping Losses - Cover
Shaping Losses

Cultural Memory and the Holocaust

Edited by Julia Epstein and Lori Hope Lefkovitz

The Minor Intimacies of Race - Cover
The Minor Intimacies of Race

Asian Publics in North America

Christine Kim

Humane Insight - Cover
Humane Insight

Looking at Images of African American Suffering and Death

Courtney R. Baker

Dissident Friendships - Cover
Dissident Friendships

Feminism, Imperialism, and Transnational Solidarity

Edited by Elora Halim Chowdhury and Liz Philipose

Laughing to Keep from Dying - Cover
Laughing to Keep from Dying

African American Satire in the Twenty-First Century

Danielle Fuentes Morgan

Table Talk - Cover
Table Talk

Building Democracy One Meal at a Time

Janet A. Flammang

NFL Football - Cover
NFL Football

A History of America's New National Pastime

Richard C. Crepeau

Unwanted Beauty - Cover
Unwanted Beauty

Aesthetic Pleasure in Holocaust Representation

Brett Ashley Kaplan

Asianfail - Cover

Narratives of Disenchantment and the Model Minority

Eleanor Ty

Global Perspectives on the United States - Cover
Global Perspectives on the United States

Pro-Americanism, Anti-Americanism, and the Discourses Between

Edited by Virginia R. Dominguez and Jane C. Desmond

Neo-Passing - Cover

Performing Identity after Jim Crow

Edited by Mollie Godfrey and Vershawn Ashanti Young