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With the Witnesses: Poetry, Compassion, and Claimed Experience

Dale Tracy
Format
Book
Published
Montreal : McGill-Queen's University Press, [2017]
Language
English
ISBN
9780773550278, 0773550275, 9780773550285, 0773550283, 9780773550292, 0773550291, 9780773550308, 0773550305
Summary
"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."--
Contents
  • Introduction
  • A contagious notion of trauma
  • Community and poetry's maps
  • Compassion across contexts: substitution, incorporation, and juxtaposition
  • Accumulating suffering: waiting without end
  • Signing skeletons: relational structures of the actual and artistic
  • Conclusion.
Description
ix, 285 pages ; 24 cm
Notes
Includes bibliographical references (pages 247-278) and index.
Technical Details
  • Access in Virgo Classic
  • Staff View

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    a| Tracy, Dale, d| 1984- e| author.
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    a| With the witnesses : b| poetry, compassion, and claimed experience / c| Dale Tracy.
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    a| Montreal : b| McGill-Queen's University Press, c| [2017]
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    a| Introduction -- A contagious notion of trauma -- Community and poetry's maps -- Compassion across contexts: substitution, incorporation, and juxtaposition -- Accumulating suffering: waiting without end -- Signing skeletons: relational structures of the actual and artistic -- Conclusion.
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