John Zilcosky has just published his new book The Language of Trauma: War and Technology in Hoffmann, Freud, and Kafka.
“This formidable scholar’s newest book—scrupulously researched and beautifully written—studies the interinvolvement of the modern discourses of law, medicine, and literature in historical fact, under the shadow of war. John Zilcosky describes the immense social, economic, and intellectual-historical effects of disciplines founded on the skeptical reading of signs and symptoms in the absence of substantial evidence. This discovery informs Zilcosky’s original and altogether brilliant criticism of works ‘quietly permeated by war and by industrialized trauma,’ medical detection, and accident insurance.”– Stanley Corngold, Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature, Princeton University
“This book uncovers the hidden traumas of technology and war in Hoffmann, Freud, and Kafka. As such, it represents a major contribution to our understanding of how modern writers gave voice to the experience of suffering and pain. Zilcosky deftly shows how the modern discourses of psychiatry, medicine, and insurance contribute to a crisis of causality that both troubles and fuels a distinctly modernist aesthetic.”– Kata Gellen, Associate Professor of German Studies and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Duke University
“For about a century, psychoanalysis has been telling us that ‘the uncanny’ is an effect of infantile castration anxiety. And for about half a century, deconstruction has been claiming that it is the mirror hall of literature’s inherent self-reflexivity that produces the uncanny. By tracing the roots of this term in the battles of nineteenth- and twentieth-century mobile and industrialized warfare, John Zilcosky puts the uncanny and its corollary, ‘trauma,’ back on their historical feet.”– Wolf Kittler, Professor of Germanic and Slavic Studies and Comparative Literature, University of California, Santa Barbara