The Theater of Trauma
American Modernist Drama and the Psychological Contest for the American Mind, 1900-1930
In “The Theater of Trauma”
I demonstrate that rather than being dominated by Freud, the
American modernist period was psychologically eclectic and
contested. As or even more influential on writers was the psychiatry
of Pierre Janet ( 1859-1947) and his associates, who included
William James, Morton Prince and others, which focused on hysteria,
trauma, dissociation, and multiple personality (dedoublement).
Literary figures knew Janet directly, or read him through James, or
understood him through his American followers, or absorbed him
through literary influences such as Strindberg and German
Expressionism. As well the War and the recognition of “shell-shock”
gave trauma a new urgency.
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