Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma

Kali Tal. All rights reserved.

An early version of this manuscript appeared as Bearing Witness: The Literature of Trauma, an American Studies dissertation, Yale University, 1991. A substantially revised version was published as Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma (Cambridge University Press, 1996). This is a third revision; in addition to substantial corrections and supplements to the text, it contains a new chapter on ethnocentric bias in the now popular field of trauma studies. Please send questions and comments to kali@kalital.com.

Contents

"This audacious and brilliant book is designed to make us feel, among other things, very uncomfortable. No area of human experience is too painful or sacrosanct to be explored by Kali Tal, and she refuses to allow us to rest with easy answers to complex problems. Tal's exploration of each of the three arenas of trauma she has chosen would constitute a strikingly original and valuable contribution to our understanding, so having all three is a treasure. But Worlds of Hurt is even more than the sum of its parts, which Tal interrelates to construct a many-dimensional kaleidoscope of meaning." — H. Bruce Franklin, author of MIA: Mythmaking in America.

"Tal's brilliant idea is that survivors of trauma create a literature of hurt that contributes to the dominant culture's self-understanding.... Throughout she demonstrates methodological strength in informative and enlightening close textual analyses." — Q. Grigg, Hamline University, in Choice (November '96).

Kali Tal makes us aware that personal narratives about about traumatic experiences -- whether they come from Holocaust survivors or troubled Vietnam veterans or victims of incest and other forms of sexual assault -- threaten the larger society because they reveal power relationships and social contradictions. Worlds of Hurt makes important contributions to our understanding of cultural politics." — James William Gibson, author of The Perfect War (1986) and Warrior Dreams (1994).

"Tal's argument about the existence of a separate literature of trauma that crosses generic boundaries is convincing, provocative, and timely. Her readings of narratives of war, genocide, and incest will be of value to anyone interested in the relationships between violence, experience, and culture." — Susan Jeffords, author of The Remasculinization of America.

Reviews