mgr Malwina Stykowska
The topic of my dissertation is: „Expressing indigenous trauma in selected English-language Australian and Canadian fiction at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries”.
Through my research I intend to delve into the ways in which traumatic experiences of Indigenous Peoples can be expressed through literary medium. Taking up such a topic allows me to contribute to filling a research gap in the field of trauma studies which still remains a relatively new discipline that is constantly evolving. Considering the fact that the mixture of the chosen literatures, that is, of both Australia and Canada in the context of trauma studies have not yet been thoroughly investigated, I truly believe that this research might cast new light on the matter of experiencing trauma, witnessing it as well as giving testimony. Moreover, it is worth to mention that the analysis will not be solely centered on the perspective of the descendants of Indigenous Peoples but also on the perspective of descendants of white colonisers in order to gain more insight.
The importance of investigating this matter more closely lies in the fact that trauma nowadays is still more alive than ever within Indigenous communities and that repercussions of colonisation are still taking its toll and affect people’s well-being, for many still struggle with mental disorders including PTSD, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty and become victims of marginalisation. Hence, I aim to treat the characters of fiction novels of both Australia and Canada as patients who experience trauma and are simply trying to bear witness through their words, thoughts, and behaviour. Keeping in mind the extent to which Indigenous groups struggle with the horrors of the past is of great significance and for this very reason, I find it enormously important to focus not only on the so-called individual trauma but also cast light on its collective, transgenerational dimension. Furthermore, comparing the literatures of two so similar and yet so different countries and discussing similarities along with differences between them will undoubtedly provide an interesting insight into the matter of their experiences and cultures.
This doctoral thesis is going to require diving into various aspects connected not only with the history of Australia and Canada or the spectre of colonialism, but also cultural contexts, matters strictly pertaining to trauma in a broader sense – such as things related to its aetiology, disorders which frequently follow it and the extent to which this very trauma can be expressed. The strongly interdisciplinary character of my thesis requires making use of various methodologies ranging from those offered within the discipline of trauma studies, postcolonial studies, cultural studies, psychoanalytic literary criticism, up to comparative studies which, through thorough analysis, will allow me to discover even greater depth to this research.