Women Writing Trauma: How Female Writers Use Narrative Voice in Fiction to Represent the Effects of Trauma

  • Donna-Louise Bishop

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    When an individual experiences a trauma, one thing often lost is the ability to use language to explain the ordeal and associated emotions. The aim of the critical study is to examine how female writers use narrative voice in fiction to represent the effects of trauma. I will discuss how an understanding of different points of view have informed my own writing of a traumatic event. The introduction presents the early trauma theories formed during the 1980s. Chapter one gives an overview of first person by defining the term. The impact of using the technique is investigated by analysing the narrative in novels True Things About Me (2010) by Deborah Kay Davies, My Dark Vanessa (2020) by Kate Elizabeth Russell, and Speak (1999) by Laurie Halse Anderson. The chapter demonstrates how the texts relate to trauma theory and concludes with examples of first-person narrative within my novel On the Other Side. Chapter two provides an analysis of third person and examines the different forms of the technique, as well as the definitions. The benefits and pitfalls of using this narrative when writing about trauma is explored by analysing the novel Back in the First Person (1986) by Kathy Page, the novella Rapture (2002) by Susan Minot, and the chapter ‘Kelly Brown’ from Pat Barker’s novel, Union Street (1982). Relating these findings to my novel forms a discussion on reasons for switching narratives. Chapter three looks at second person and the challenges defining the term. The chapter analyses female writers’ use of second person in the novels Devoured (2018) by Anna Mackmin and Blow Your House Down by Pat Barker (1984), the novella Rape: A Love Story (2003) by Joyce Carol Oates, and short story ‘Lust’ by Susan Minot, published in Minot’s short stories collection Lust and Other Stories (1989). Following the exploring of texts, I demonstrate my use of second person. The conclusion reflection on my creative project and relates my findings about the impact and considerations of narrative voice and how that fits into my writing of trauma.
    Date of Award2022
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBarrie Llewelyn (Supervisor) & Diana Wallace (Supervisor)

    Cite this