I recently stumbled upon the term "trauma literature". However, I am having a hard time figuring out what it actually refers to. There is almost no piece of literature that does not contain an element of trauma.

What does this term mean?

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    – bobble
    Aug 9, 2021 at 17:45

1 Answer 1


It's certainly true that trauma and traumatic events feature in many works of literature.

However, Trauma Literature focuses on trauma as a central theme, and often on the difficulty of expressing that trauma through the literary medium.

The literary work itself often becomes an expression of a traumatic reaction. For example, in the graphic novel Maus, the author Art Spiegelman replaces human characters with animals. This allows him to deal with a modified (and thus less threatening) variation of the traumatic reality.

Thus the trauma in the novel is not just one limited aspect, but arguably the entire work is an expression of trauma and a defensive reaction related to that trauma.

  • Do you have any references for this answer?
    – bobble
    Aug 10, 2021 at 16:28
  • @bobble there is this article: lithub.com/… which also mentions the example I gave, Maus.
    – Goh
    Aug 14, 2021 at 15:31

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