Trauma theory and the singular self: Rethinking extreme experiences in the light of cross cultural identity

Claire Stocks

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Versions of a Jane Austen re-canonised from below as 'popular culture' confectionary (as products of the adaptation industry bearing her name but often deserting her words, or characters, or intelligence) may in fact obscure what she is 'about' as a (past-) mistress of linguistic nuance and scruple. In terms of her own cultural context she is something like the 'pert young lawyer' of her own invention in Emma. Again, like her later namesake 'J. [L.] Austin', who himself seems to 'claim kin' with his title Sense and Sensibilia, she knows How to Do (and Undo) Things with Words. She also likes to watch her characters doing (and undoing) them as promising performers. This trait enters into combination with the grosser lures of her marriage-plots, partly as marriage itself and the processes which lead to it entail much promising, much acting and speech-acting. But the connubial exit-lines also include, at the close, an act of re-naming we might describe as the game of the name here. Derrida's commentary on Austin is also relevant as all three writers rehearse some promising performances turning on the promise to perform, in Austen's case engendering ironies and paradoxes which destabilise what initially seemed an unproblematic sense of identity and representation. Austen, then, as if already counterfeiting the later Austin, draws up careful contractual arrangements in a 'legal fiction' of her own contriving for her Girls of Slender Means.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)71-199
    Number of pages128
    JournalTextual Practice
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • Adaptation
    • Austin
    • Derrida
    • Desire
    • Names
    • Performance
    • Representation
    • Speech-act


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