Transgenerational Trauma and Cyclical Haunting in Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy

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Meera Atkinson


‘The poetics of trans-trauma’ is my abbreviation for writing that embodies the familial transgenerational transmission of trauma and its relationship to cultural and collective operations of trauma and affect. Drawing primarily on Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy, this essay explores the poetics of what I call ‘cyclical haunting’—a term that describes the way historic and social traumatic affect feeds into subjective and familial experience, and in turn plays out past these interpersonal realms to networks beyond: events, movements, collectives, institutions, milieus, trends, communities, politics, creeds, religions, genders, sub-cultures, nations and relations between humanity and the planet it inhabits. I argue that Barker's trilogy, though apparently conventional, if masterful, in form and language, is radical in its testimony to the complexity and of such cycles, and that as such it stands as a vital cultural analysis and political account.

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Author Biography

Meera Atkinson, University of Western Sydney

Meera Atkinson is a Sydney-based writer, poet and scholar. Her writing has appeared in many publications, including, Meanjin, Best Australian Stories 2007, Best Australian Poems 2010, Griffith REVIEW and The 2013 Voiceless Anthology. She has completed a non-traditional PhD (novel and dissertation) on the transgenerational transmission and poetics of trauma in the Writing and Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney. She is co-editor of an academic volume Traumatic Affect (2013), a collection of essays exploring the nexus of trauma and affect.