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Chronicling Trauma

Journalists and Writers on Violence and Loss

Doug Underwood

Publication Year: 2011

To attract readers, journalists have long trafficked in the causes of trauma--crime, violence, warfare--as well as psychological profiling of deviance and aberrational personalities. Novelists, in turn, have explored these same subjects in developing their characters and by borrowing from their own traumatic life stories to shape the themes and psychological terrain of their fiction. In this book, Doug Underwood offers a conceptual and historical framework for comprehending the impact of trauma and violence in the careers and the writings of important journalist-literary figures in the United States and British Isles from the early 1700s to today._x000B__x000B_Grounded in the latest research in the fields of trauma studies, literary biography, and the history of journalism, this study draws upon the lively and sometimes breathtaking accounts of popular writers such as Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Graham Greene, and Truman Capote, exploring the role that trauma has played in shaping their literary works. Underwood notes that the influence of traumatic experience upon journalistic literature is being reshaped by a number of factors, including news media trends, the advance of the Internet, the changing nature of the journalism profession, the proliferation of psychoactive drugs, and journalists' greater self-awareness of the impact of trauma in their work._x000B__x000B_The most extensive scholarly examination of the role that trauma has played in the shaping of our journalistic and literary heritage, Chronicling Trauma: Journalists and Writers on Violence and Loss discusses more than a hundred writers whose works have won them fame, even at the price of their health, their families, and their lives.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: The History of Communication


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction. Trauma, News, and Narrative: The Study of Violence and Loss in Journalism and Fiction

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pp. 1-23

Ernest Hemingway has meant many things to many people, but one that he was not comfortable with was his standing as the monumental example of how traumatic experience can shape the life of a journalist-turnednovelist. When Hemingway once said that he would never write about his growing-up years in Oak Park, Illinois, ...

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1. Stories of Harm, Stories of Hazard: Childhood Stress and Professional Traumas in the Careers of Journalist-Literary Figures

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pp. 24-78

Many people would call it a nervous breakdown when Sherwood Anderson, a thirty-six-year-old owner of a mail order paint company and editor of a series of business publications, walked out of his office in Elyria, Ohio, one day in 1912. He was later found wandering the streets of Cleveland, haggard, disoriented, ...

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2. Trafficking in Trauma: Women's Rights, Civil Rights, and Sensationalism as a Spur to Social Justice

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pp. 79-113

Zora Neale Hurston was a unique mixture of traumatized personality, once-poor African American woman who had migrated from the South to the North, college-trained anthropologist, and fledgling journalist and fiction writer when she got off the train in central Florida in 1927 to study the folklore of the poor black community where she had grown up. ...

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3. Trauma in War, Trauma in Life: The Pose of the "Heroic" Battlefield Correspondent

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pp. 114-160

As a war correspondent in the Spanish-American War, Stephen Crane covered the story for both the Hearst and Pulitzer newspapers, as well as serving as the subject of continuous press coverage himself. As perhaps the second most famous writer reporting on the war in Cuba, Crane cut a romantic figure trying to outdo Richard Harding Davis, ...

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4. Depression, Drink, and Dissipation: Dysfunctional Lifestyles and Art as the Ultimate Stimulant

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pp. 161-191

There is a photograph of an aging “Papa” Hemingway at the height of his fame—bulky, puffy faced, his hair combed over his balding forehead, hoisting a bottle of Spanish wine to his lips at a bullfight in the summer of 1959. Hemingway had gone to Pamplona to relive the glory days of his youth that provided the setting for the critically acclaimed The Sun Also Rises. ...

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Epilogue: New Challenges, New Treatments: Trauma and the Contemporary Journalist-Literary Figure

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pp. 192-198

Sadly, the letters and correspondence of James Thurber toward the end of his career indicate that the final outcome was not always easy for the writer living with the effects of trauma, psychological stress, and behaviors that tried to compensate for the emotional disequilibrium caused by inherited proclivities and family dysfunction. ...


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pp. 199-210


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pp. 211-234


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pp. 235-244

About the Author, Further Reading, Publication Information

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E-ISBN-13: 9780252093432
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252036408

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: The History of Communication
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OCLC Number: 759907775
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Chronicling Trauma

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Violence -- Press coverage.
  • Psychic trauma -- Press coverage.
  • War correspondents -- Mental health.
  • Authors, American -- Psychology.
  • Violence in literature.
  • Psychic trauma in literature.
  • Journalists -- United States -- Biography
  • Journalists -- Great Britain -- Biography.
  • Journalism and literature -- United States.
  • Journalism and literature -- Great Britain.
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