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This article contrasts two visions of trauma: a symbolic imaginary on film where women’s violated bodies stand in for philosophical ideas about sex, violence, and politics; and a more complex literary imaginary using what Ann Cvetkovich calls an “archive of trauma.” The starting point for discussion is troubling representations of women on film; The Lover (1992, dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud) and Lust, Caution (2007, dir. Ang Lee) both portray their heroines falling in love with their abusers, men whose shame and vulnerability are expressed through a symbolic rape. Rather than dwelling on this dubious aspect of the films, the main discussion returns to the more nuanced view of trauma in the source texts: The Lover (1984) by Marguerite Duras (1914–1996) and “Lust, Caution” (1979) by Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing) (1920–1995), neither of which include sexual violence in an obvious way. Duras’s traumatic portrait of French colonialism and Chang’s sinister portrayal of the Japanese occupation of Shanghai refuse symbolic rape as shorthand for conquest. Instead, these stories present an archive of trauma through a series of objects that represent emotional value, and provoke affective responses. Duras and Chang lament what Cvetkovich labels “insidious” or everyday trauma—the impossible histories—carried by women as a result of colonialism and war.