Zilcosky: The Language of Trauma

John Zilcosky, Former and Honorary President of the ICLA theory committee, is the author of The Language of Trauma: War and Technology in Hoffmann, Freud, and Kafka. Published by University of Toronto Press, the book makes the case that E.T.A. Hoffmann, Sigmund Freud, and Franz Kafka managed to find the language of trauma by, paradoxically, not attempting to name the trauma conclusively and instead allowing their writing to mimic the experience itself. Just as the victims’ symptoms seemed not to correspond to a physical cause, the writers’ words did not connect directly to the objects of the world. Zilcosky argues that this linguistic skepticism emerged together with the medical inability to name the experience of trauma.

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