cover image: With the Witnesses : Poetry, Compassion, and Claimed Experience



With the Witnesses : Poetry, Compassion, and Claimed Experience

9 Jun 2017

Trauma theory dominates contemporary ideas about ethical response to suffering. Yet, trauma theory, as it has been adopted by literary and cultural studies, has harmful effects. In With the Witnesses, Dale Tracy argues that poetry's compassionate strategies offer an alternative approach to engaging not only suffering in art but suffering in general. Emphasizing inaccessible histories, unspeakable suffering, and unconscious witnessing, trauma theory leads readers to claim others' suffering through empathic identification. Understood through trauma theory, witness poetry--poetry responding to social suffering--appears to make traumatic traces contagiously available to readers. With the Witnesses interrogates this metaphoric logic in which readers identify with a speaker, placing themselves into the position of witness. Instead, Tracy finds that witness poems follow a metonymic logic: contiguity rather than substitution, nearness rather than likeness, and waiting in relationship rather than claiming understanding. Compassion means feeling with--not as--another. Poems responding to diverse national and transnational contexts of atrocity, conflict, and marginalization guide With the Witnesses outside of existing frameworks into compassionate response to suffering. With the Witnesses follows each poem as a unique theory of compassion and arrives at a place where a witness can stand with those who suffer without standing in for them.--$cProvided by publisher.
poetry poésie memory in literature self-disclosure in literature révélation de soi dans la littérature psychic trauma in literature suffering in literature mémoire dans la littérature témoins dans la littérature witnesses in literature traumatisme psychique dans la littérature souffrance dans la littérature 20th century 20e siècle critique et interprétation history and criticism poésie


Dale Tracy

Bibliography, etc. Note
Includes bibliographical references (pages 267-278) and index
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Date published
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Dewey Decimal Edition Number
Canadian Electronic Library (Firm),
General Note
Issued as part of the desLibris books collection
9780773550278 9780773550292
LCCN Item number
T73 2017eb
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Physical Description | Extent
1 electronic text (ix, 285 pages)
Published in
Ottawa, Ontario
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Access restricted to authorized users and institutions
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(CaBNVSL)kck00237760 (OCoLC)973792507 (CaOOCEL)452400
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Mode of access: World Wide Web
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