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Chronicling Trauma

Chronicling Trauma: Journalists and Writers on Violence and Loss

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Chronicling Trauma
    Book Description:

    To attract readers, journalists have long trafficked in the causes of trauma--crime, violence, warfare--as well as psychological profiling of deviance and aberrational personalities. Novelists, in turn, have explored these same subjects in developing their characters and by borrowing from their own traumatic life stories to shape the themes and psychological terrain of their fiction. In this book, Doug Underwood offers a conceptual and historical framework for comprehending the impact of trauma and violence in the careers and the writings of important journalist-literary figures in the United States and British Isles from the early 1700s to today._x000B__x000B_Grounded in the latest research in the fields of trauma studies, literary biography, and the history of journalism, this study draws upon the lively and sometimes breathtaking accounts of popular writers such as Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Graham Greene, and Truman Capote, exploring the role that trauma has played in shaping their literary works. Underwood notes that the influence of traumatic experience upon journalistic literature is being reshaped by a number of factors, including news media trends, the advance of the Internet, the changing nature of the journalism profession, the proliferation of psychoactive drugs, and journalists' greater self-awareness of the impact of trauma in their work._x000B__x000B_The most extensive scholarly examination of the role that trauma has played in the shaping of our journalistic and literary heritage, Chronicling Trauma: Journalists and Writers on Violence and Loss discusses more than a hundred writers whose works have won them fame, even at the price of their health, their families, and their lives.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09343-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION. Trauma, News, and Narrative: The Study of Violence and Loss in Journalism and Fiction
    (pp. 1-23)

    Ernest Hemingway has meant many things to many people, but one that he was not comfortable with was his standing as the monumental example of how traumatic experience can shape the life of a journalist-turned-novelist. When Hemingway once said that he would never write about his growing-up years in Oak Park, Illinois, because he “did not want to hurt living people,” he was being disingenuous at best. Hemingway—who did not mind hurting people in myriad ways throughout his career—knew that there were dark shadows and family skeletons looming in his youthful past.¹ In an adult life where he...

  4. 1 Stories of Harm, Stories of Hazard: Childhood Stress and Professional Trauma in the Careers of Journalist-Literary Figures
    (pp. 24-78)

    Many people would call it a nervous breakdown when Sherwood Anderson, a thirty-six-year-old owner of a mail order paint company and editor of a series of business publications, walked out of his office in Elyria, Ohio, one day in 1912. He was later found wandering the streets of Cleveland, haggard, disoriented, and muttering confusedly of his grievances against the world. Anderson, however, came to see the incident as a matter of artistic escape—as the moment when he turned his back on the life of a Rotarian and business journalist to set off to fulfill his dreams of becoming a...

  5. 2 Trafficking in Trauma: Women’s Rights, Civil Rights, and Sensationalism as a Spur to Social Justice
    (pp. 79-113)

    Zora Neale Hurston was a unique mixture of traumatized personality, once-poor African American woman who had migrated from the South to the North, college-trained anthropologist, and fledgling journalist and fiction writer when she got off the train in central Florida in 1927 to study the folklore of the poor black community where she had grown up. Hurston’s return to the small-town setting where she had experienced family abandonment and racial abuse played a profound role in her development as a folklorist and the author ofTheir Eyes Were Watching God, her 1937 novel about a middle-aged black woman who after...

  6. 3 Trauma in War, Trauma in Life: The Pose of the “Heroic” Battlefield Correspondent
    (pp. 114-160)

    As a war correspondent in the Spanish-American War, Stephen Crane covered the story for both the Hearst and Pulitzer newspapers, as well as serving as the subject of continuous press coverage himself. As perhaps the second most famous writer reporting on the war in Cuba, Crane cut a romantic figure trying to outdo Richard Harding Davis, the dapper prototype of the nineteenth-century war correspondent (and the most famous writer there). Riding on a pinto horse in a gleaming white rain coat, Crane would gallop along with the American regiments and head off with scouting parties, rushing to the scene when...

  7. 4 Depression, Drink, and Dissipation: Dysfunctional Lifestyles and Art as the Ultimate Stimulant
    (pp. 161-191)

    There is a photograph of an aging “Papa” Hemingway at the height of his fame—bulky, puffy faced, his hair combed over his balding forehead, hoisting a bottle of Spanish wine to his lips at a bullfight in the summer of 1959. Hemingway had gone to Pamplona to relive the glory days of his youth that provided the setting for the critically acclaimedThe Sun Also Rises. In the 1926 novel, drink played a vital role for the collection of expatriate friends who form the social circle in which Hemingway sets his psychological drama. Alcohol acts as an aphrodisiac, an...

  8. EPILOGUE. New Challenges, New Treatments: Trauma and the Contemporary Journalist-Literary Figure
    (pp. 192-198)

    Sadly, the letters and correspondence of James Thurber toward the end of his career indicate that the final outcome was not always easy for the writer living with the effects of trauma, psychological stress, and behaviors that tried to compensate for the emotional disequilibrium caused by inherited proclivities and family dysfunction. Like his friend, Ernest Hemingway, Thurber suffered from a combination of early life traumatic experiences and emotional struggles that fueled his journalistic and artistic ambitions but also contributed to actions in his final years that were viewed by friends as pathetic and out-of-control. Virtually blind, cantankerous, alcoholic, and in...

  9. Appendix
    (pp. 199-210)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 211-234)
  11. Index
    (pp. 235-244)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-248)