Traumatized Voices in Contemporary Arab-British Women Fiction: A Critical Stylistics Approach

  •  Ahmed Amara    
  •  Abdulfattah Omar    


Despite the interest often shown by feminist-informed models of literary trauma in the linguistic properties of traumatized characters’ language, very little has been done in relation to the study of the linguistic mechanisms/strategies speakers adopt in narrating traumatic events. This article explores the linguistic and discursive mechanisms in feminist trauma narratives, with a particular focus on the trauma of exile in the diasporic writings of Arab-British women novelists. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the topic, critical stylistics is adopted to describe the hidden discursive mechanisms in the speech of trauma victims, and how these mechanisms affect both the way such unsettling experiences are narrated, and the extent to which the traumatic dimension of these stories is properly conveyed to readers and recipients. Trauma theorists (Caruth 1995, Rogers 2006) have often emphasized the ‘unspeakable’ nature of traumatic experiences – the way in which they exceed the boundaries of language and expression. Accordingly, our attention should not be directed to what these texts explicitly say. Rather, we should be alert to their silences, gaps, and breaks. In other words, we should be more concerned with how language operates, because it is the cracks and crevices in victims’ speech that the full impact of trauma is most likely to be discernible. In the case of Arab-British women writers, traumatic memories of home, the anxiety of exile, and the constant search for identity are all negotiated through language. By adopting such linguistic strategies as repetition and negation, the traumatized characters in the selected texts both point to their in-between subject position, and assert their alternative subjectivity as resistant to clear-cut compartmentalization.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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