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Trauma and Its Representations

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Trauma and Its Representations

The Social Life of Mimesis in Post-Revolutionary France

Mimesis has been addressed frequently in terms of literary or visual representation, in which the work of art mirrors, or fails to mirror, life. Most often, mimesis has been critiqued as a simple attempt to bridge the distance between reality and its representations. In Trauma and Its Representations: The Social Life of Mimesis in Post-Revolutionary France, Deborah Jenson argues instead that mimesis not only denotes the representation of reality but is also a crucial concept for understanding the production of social meaning within specific historical contexts. Examining the idea of mimesis in the French Revolution and post-Revolutionary Romanticism, Jenson builds on recent work in trauma studies to develop her own notion of traumatic mimesis. Through innovative readings of museum catalogs, the writings of Benjamin Constant, the novels of George Sand and Gustave Flaubert, and other works, Jenson demonstrates how mimesis functions as a form of symbolic wounding in French Romanticism.