Can Literature Promote Justice?: Trauma Narrative and Social by Kimberly A. Nance

By Kimberly A. Nance

As though in direct reaction to the recent Yorker's query of "The strength of the Pen: Does Literature swap Anything?" Kimberly Nance takes up the connection among ethics and literature. With the fortieth anniversary of the testimonio taking place in 2006, there hasn't ever been a greater time to reassess its function achieve social justice.The creation of the testimonio--loosely, a political autobiography of a Latin American activist who hopes, during the telling of her lifestyles tale, to lead to change--was met with loads of pleasure through students who posited it as a thorough new kind of literature. these accolades have been presently via a sequence of severe difficulties. In what feel have been testimonios "true"? What correct did privileged students within the U.S. need to interact debts of affliction with conventional modes of feedback? have been questions of veracity or aesthetics extra vital? have been those texts autobiography or political screeds? It appeared critics did not be aware of rather what to make of the testimonio and so, after a quick bout of engagement, left out it.Nance, despite the fact that, argues that any shape as prolific because the testimonio is easily worthy studying and that those questions, instead of being insurmountable, are precisely the questions with which students must be wrestling. If, as critics declare, that the testimonio is without doubt one of the so much pervasive modern Latin American cultural genres, then it truly is excessive time for a complete examine of the style comparable to Nance's.

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Additional info for Can Literature Promote Justice?: Trauma Narrative and Social Action in Latin American Testimonio

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142) A Genre Without a Strategy? 25 In addition to realizing long-harbored fantasies of exposing and directly addressing the torturers, the epideictic strain of testimonio takes the form of denouncing those criminals to others. Dorfman also points out that the speaker in Carlos Lira’s El alcaide preso [The Imprisoned Warden] warns, “Just like this son of a bitch, there are many that history should know” (143). Critical formulations of testimonio, including those of collaborating writers, have nearly always cast the genre into one of these same two modes: forensic or epideictic.

The speaker’s status is now beyond question, and readers are no longer called upon even to determine praiseworthiness or blame. As a new epideictic form of testimonial criticism (or perhaps more accurately forensic redux) shifts the focus away from blaming oppressive governments for testimonio’s narrated suffering, readers themselves may become the suspects. In his introduction to The Real Thing (1996), Georg Gugelberger confronts First World readers and critics with their potential destruction of testimonio’s very “essence” (10).

Scarry observes that torture depends upon the conflation of public and private (27), and here it is resisted through a series of defensive images of bodily and psychic strength and integrity. Given the tenacity with which Partnoy’s self is rooted in her body, it is fitting that the doubles constructed or conjured to shelter her spirit should be embodied rather than ethereal. At the beginning of the stories, the narrator attempts to protect body and soul together with the physical barriers of a house and a brick wall.

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