Research Output
“Siblings, Kinship and Allegory in Jesmyn Ward’s Fiction and Nonfiction”
  This article examines the centrality of sibling relationships in Jesmyn Ward’s fiction and nonfiction, focusing specifically on her second novel Salvage the Bones (2011) and memoir Men We Reaped (2013) but referencing all of her long-form works. It analyzes Ward’s repeated depictions of siblings supporting each other in the absence of protective or nurturing parents, and argues that this can be read allegorically – as citizens supporting each other in the absence of the state. Using and developing Gary Johnson’s notion of “intradiegetic allegory,” it argues that Ward’s specific narrative strategies reveal intersections between the experience of traumatic violence and systemic or “slow violence.” Furthermore it examines Ward’s writing in the context of critical debates about the enduring uses of trauma as an interpretive framework. For instance, while Lauren Berlant’s influential argument for “moving away from the discourse of trauma … when describing what happens to persons and populations as an effect of catastrophic impacts,” suggests an emerging impasse between trauma and a new emphasis on the systemic, Ward’s writing urges us to consider the ways traumatic events are experienced in the context of systemic violence.

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  • Date:

    03 September 2019

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  • Publisher

    Informa UK Limited

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  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Keeble, A. (2019). “Siblings, Kinship and Allegory in Jesmyn Ward’s Fiction and Nonfiction”. Critique, 61(1), 40-51.



Literature and Literary Theory; Jesmyn Ward

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