Search Results

Abstract

‘How was it that Tolkien … could have gone through the Great War with all of its rants and lies and still come out committed to a “feudal” literary style?’ Hugh Brogan’s query captures the critical response of bewilderment towards the Great War veteran J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, his fantastical epic of Middle-earth rich with medieval influences. What could the turn to fantasy and the recuperation of chivalric and out-dated convictions offer for a nation and author recovering from such traumatic devastation? This paper critically investigates how the problematic of memory invites continuous reflection in a number of issues that emerge in the aftermath of war: the end of a chivalric tradition that opened the way for new literary aesthetics, posttraumatic demands on memory and melancholia, and fantasies of reconstruction in a post-war period of disillusionment. My research problematizes the commonly assumed disjunction between the abstract world of aesthetics and fantasy and the gritty politics of war and power. I argue that Tolkien’s literary turn to medievalism and myth provides an alternative to the modernist response to post-war trauma. He revises the chivalric tropes of sacrifice and surrender as a logical ethical and aesthetic response to the brutality of war and the dilemma it raises: how to commemorate the dead, while displacing the logic of war itself. I highlight the importance of negotiating the trauma of war through ‘the art of losing,’ the narrative by which the lament of loss tempers the valorisation of violence.

In: Where To From Here? Examining Conflict-Related and Relational Interaction Trauma
This volume addresses trauma not only from a theoretical, descriptive and therapeutic perspective, but also through the survivor as narrator, meaning maker, and presenter. By conceptualising different outlooks on trauma, exploring transfigurations in writing and art, and engaging trauma through scriptotherapy, dharma art, autoethnography, photovoice and choreography, the interdisciplinary dialogue highlights the need for rethinking and re-examining trauma, as classical treatments geared towards healing do not recognise the potential for transfiguration inherent in the trauma itself. The investigation of the fissures, disruptions and shifts after punctual traumatic events or prolonged exposure to verbal and physical abuse, illness, war, captivity, incarceration, and chemical exposure, amongst others, leads to a new understanding of the transformed self and empowering post-traumatic developments.

Contributors are Peter Bray, Francesca Brencio, Mark Callaghan, M. Candace Christensen, Diedra L. Clay, Leanne Dodd, Marie France Forcier, Gen’ichiro Itakura, Jacqueline Linder, Elwin Susan John, Kori D. Novak, Cassie Pedersen, Danielle Schaub, Nicholas Quin Serenati, Aslı Tekinay, Tony M. Vinci and Claudio Zanini.