Trauma Fiction History Research Seminar
Weds 29 January 2012, Windsor 05, 5pm
Dr Helen Vassallo, University of Exeter,The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing: Gender, War and Trauma
The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing is a semi- autobiographical narrative byLebanese author Darina Al-Joundi, which recounts her coming-of-age during theLebanese civil war and explores the entwining of socio-historical trauma andpersonal experience. Al-Joundi was raised in an unorthodox household: herfather, a Syrian political exile, wanted to raise his daughters as “free women”in a society which made this “freedom” unrealizable, constraining Darina withinother, equally harmful, stereotypes. The analysis thus examines the quest forone woman to find a secular “freedom” in a society characterized by religiousconflict and gender inequality, and reveals this quest to be fraught withpersonal and social trauma. It will conclude by evaluating possibilities for“freedom” in exile in France, considering the extent to which Al-Joundi’srepresentation of the “free woman” challenges traditional dichotomies betweenEast and West regarding notions of liberty, particularly as they are incarnatedby women.