The loudest silence: writing trauma in a more-than-human world

DOBSON, Joanna Clare (2023). The loudest silence: writing trauma in a more-than-human world. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This thesis consists of a book-length memoir and a critical essay. Both sections explore the overarching question of the role played by the more-than-human world in narratives of trauma. In the memoir, The Loudest Silence, I tell the story of growing up in a family in which one of the children, my brother, had died and nobody was allowed to talk about it. Weaving through that narrative is an account of my present-day search to recover memories of my childhood and understand their significance. The search involves revisiting rural places that were important to me while I was growing up, and frequently returns to my allotment in Sheffield. The whole book is driven by two personal questions that have haunted my adult life: why didn’t my family talk about my brother and why, when we were so unhappy the rest of the time, did we function so well when we were outside in nature? The critical essay examines all these questions through a dual theoretical lens that brings insights from trauma studies into conversation with the environmental arts and humanities. Like the memoir, it draws on a wide range of discourses, including literary criticism, psychiatry, environmental history, philosophy and ecology. It is framed by an account of my experience of engaging in outdoor psychotherapy while I was writing the memoir. The two parts of the thesis, the different discourses they draw on, and the more-than human relationships they describe, work together dynamically to open up new ways of thinking about both trauma and the more-than-human world in an age of environmental crisis. With its dual critical lens, it represents an original contribution to a growing body of writing that is concerned with the ways that human and other-than-human distress may be read, written and responded to in the Anthropocene.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Tarlo, Harriet [0000-0002-6626-8099] (Affiliation: Sheffield Hallam University)
Thesis advisor - Battle-Felton, Yvonne (Affiliation: Sheffield Hallam University)
Additional Information: Director of studies: Prof. Harriet Tarlo / Supervisor: Dr. Yvonne Battle-Felton "No PQ harvesting"
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2023 15:52
Last Modified: 23 Dec 2023 02:00

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