Date of Thesis



In this thesis, I explore the relationships between trauma, memory, and narrative, particularly the ways in which trauma simultaneously disrupts and engenders narrative structures. I consider various trauma theories by authors such as Cathy Caruth, Judith Herman, Ruth Leys, and Dominick LaCapra. I also consider how psychoanalytic theory and criticism, specifically the writings of Sigmund Freud, inform the study of traumatic experience from both literary and personal perspectives. Furthermore, I consider theories regarding the relationship between trauma and narrative by authors such as Peter Brooks and John Pilkington. James Joyce¿s Ulysses and William Faulkner¿s Light in August serve, for my purposes, as trauma-texts and reflect the ways in which trauma might complicate the simultaneous destruction and creation of narrative strategies. Reading Ulysses and Light in August as trauma-texts that are both in mourning and melancholic gives us complementary, and contradictory, reasons for why we enjoy them. Mourning constructs a relationship between victim and witness, in which we can hear the voice of trauma and engage it in discourse. Conversely, melancholia creates a relationship between performer and spectator, in which we experience, and are fascinated by, the spectacle of another¿s trauma. Laughter, perversity, sorrow, and respite engage the reader in both texts, and raise questions about how one `remembers-to-forget¿ traumatic experiences. The narratives of each text¿s characters offer unique performances of mourning and melancholia. Thus, while this thesis engenders more questions than answers, I hope to argue that Ulysses and Light in August are significant literary works because each engages the reader in traumatic discourse, entertains the reader with the traumatic spectacle, and enlightens the reader on the complex relationship between trauma and narrative.


Memory and trauma in literature, trauma studies, Joyce, Faulkner

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Harold Schweizer

Second Advisor

John Rickard