Review of The theater of trauma: American modernist drama and the psychological struggle for the American Mind.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview (Book/Film/Exhibition/etc.)

Abstract

Reviews the book, The theatre of trauma: American modernist drama and the psychological struggle for the American mind by M. Cotsell (2005). The author's main thesis is that American modernist dramaturgy was mostly propelled by representations of trauma and the ensuing dissociation, contrary to the usual interpretation that it was powerfully influenced by Freudian Oedipal theory of infantile sexuality and fantasy. Professor Cotsell's thesis does have merits. Cotsell reminds the reader that besides the "secret" family abuse, the USA was responsible for the massive traumatization of African Americans, who could be lynched at the slightest provocation. Even being a pregnant mother would not save one from the mob's fury. And, of course, the whole Western civilization had recently suffered the carnage and loss of historical innocence brought about by World War I. I learned much about the weirdness and scope of so much of early 20th century American theatre, with plays about mesmerists, "multiple personalities," pedophile characters, structural and narrative experimentation, and other dissociative and traumatic phenomena.

Details

Authors
Organisations
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology

Keywords

  • Theatre, Trauma, History, American modernist drama
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-60
JournalJournal of Psychological Trauma
Volume6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedNo

Bibliographic note

Reviewed Work(s): The theatre of trauma: American modernist drama and the psychological struggle for the American mind (by M. Cotsell)