Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Collective Traumatic Memory and Its Theatrical Models: Case Studies in Elie Wiesel and Aeschylus

Wilson, Paul / Wayne (2014) Collective Traumatic Memory and Its Theatrical Models: Case Studies in Elie Wiesel and Aeschylus. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (1MB) | Preview


This dissertation synthesizes recent considerations that have emerged from theories of psychological trauma (namely, Post-Traumatic Stress) and cultural trauma (via sociologists Jeffrey Alexander, Neil Smelser, and Ron Eyerman), into what is called “collective trauma.” Further theoretical frameworks of socially distributed memory and collective memory are then employed to create a more robust understanding of the hybrid nature of both normative and traumatic memory. Using anthropologist Clifford Geertz's “models of” and “models for,” as well as linguist George Lakoff's and philosopher Mark Johnson's similarly-constructed notions of “metaphor” and “event,” the collective trauma concept is then brought to bear on three theatre events (plays in performance) – Elie Wiesel's two English language plays, 1973's Zalmen (or, The Madness of God), 1983's The Trial of God, and Aeschylus' 458 BC production of The Oresteia (Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides). Chapter One delineates the theoretical framework described above. Chapter Two combines
Zalmen and The Trial of God into a single case study of texts and performances, in which it is determined
that the former play is a failed model of individual and collective traumatic memory, while the latter is a
successful model of those. This chapter focuses on the 1973 production at the Arena Theatre in Washington, DC, as well as its brief Broadway run at the Lyceum in 1974.Chapter Three employs the additional tools of physical and linguistic evidence, the etymology of the word trauma in Greek literature, and classicist Pat Easterling's process of revealing reception through evidence interpolation. Easterling's process and the theoretical considerations of Chapter One construct a picture of Athens' Great Dionysia in 458 BC. In so doing, Chapter Three reveals The Oresteia as a strong model of and for individual, collective, and cultural traumas. The brief conclusion uses collective memory as a litmus test for reflexivity and the agency of victims as trauma moves outward, from the collective into the cultural realm.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Wilson, Paul / Waynepww1@pitt.eduPWW1
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcConachie, Brucebamcco@pitt.eduBAMCCO
Committee MemberFavorini, Attiliobudfav@pitt.eduBUDFAV
Committee MemberGeorge, Kathleengeorgeke@pitt.eduGEORGEKE
Committee MemberHashimoto, Akikoahash@pitt.eduAHASH
Date: 30 May 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 January 2014
Approval Date: 30 May 2014
Submission Date: 19 May 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 211
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: theatre, theater, trauma, collective trauma, cultural trauma, ptsd, wiesel, aeschylus, zalmen, trial of god, oresteia, agamemnon, libation bearers, eumenides
Date Deposited: 30 May 2014 15:33
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:20


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item