Memory's Folly: Narrative Trauma in the Aftermath of the Vietnam War
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This project explores the ways that narrative trauma was represented in fiction after the Vietnam War. Trauma is not only felt in the survivors of the War but is also inherited by the generations that follow. This inherited trauma is not memory, but something close to it. How does trauma manifest itself in veterans of the Vietnam War, their descendants, and how is it reflected in existing literature? Research was conducted through close textual analyses of works written by survivors of the Vietnam War and select works written by authors who did not experience the War yet take it as their central issue. Additional readings covered combat trauma, memory studies, and postmemory theory. Currently, very little material exists about postmemory in the context of the Vietnam War, however we may extrapolate current postmemorial writings to a Vietnam context. How does Vietnam manifest itself in the memories of the generations following the War? Like the descendants of the Holocaust, it is important to understand how these later generations (both American and Vietnamese) create ownership of memories they did not experience. This research culminated in a novel excerpt about a reporter who, after his father (a Vietnam veteran) dies, seeks answers in another veteran.
Womack, Riley C (2019). Memory's Folly: Narrative Trauma in the Aftermath of the Vietnam War. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from