Trauma Plots

Reading Contemporary Canadian First World War Fiction in a Comparative Perspective


The purpose of this article is to examine selected WWI Canadian novels published in the last forty years in relation to a transnational trauma paradigm. My contention is that, similarly to much contemporary British, French, Irish and Australian Great War fiction, the dominant theme of recent Canadian Great War novels is war trauma and its aftermath. Referring to the concepts of post-memory, wound culture, and trauma studies, I discuss various representations of suffering in Canadian WWI literature, such as the anxieties of shell shocked soldiers, survivor guilt, the distress of women, as well as the individual and collective wounds of colonized groups. Exploring the ethics and aesthetics of Canadian trauma plots, I also draw analogies with other national literatures. In conclusion, the article attempts to highlight the distinctive features of Canadian war literature by showing at the same time how it inscribes itself within certain transnational trends.

Author Biography

Anna Branach-Kallas, Canadian Studies Resource Centre, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland

Anna Branach-Kallas (Ph.D., D.Litt.) is Associate Professor in the Department of English at Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland. She is the author of The Trauma of Survival: The (De)Construction of the Myth of the Great War in the Canadian Novel (2014), which was awarded the Pierre Savard Award by the International Council for Canadian Studies. She has published two other books and over seventy essays, which express a range of interests from intertextuality and historiography to corporeality, trauma, war, and postcolonialism. Currently, she is director of a comparative project devoted to the analysis of representations of the Great War in contemporary fiction in England, France and Canada.