Ring Around the Rosie: Queer Temporality in Narratives of Trauma
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This dissertation employs both traditional and digital tools to analyze fictional texts through the converging lenses of narratology, queer theory, and trauma studies. I am invested specifically in the work fictional narratives perform within the current cultural context, which is itself problematized by our increasingly fractured media landscape. While most of the work on trauma and queerness examines the trauma that is often implicated in the experience of being queer, I take a different approach, investigating ways in which the experience of trauma is itself queer. Drawing on medical and psychiatric studies of post-traumatic stress disorder, I posit that the fragmented temporal and affective space of trauma is also the space of queerness. “Ring Around the Rosie” locates an intersection between Edelman’s anti-futurism and Muñoz’s utopian hope in the disavowal of the restrictive circularity of traumatic memory, and the subsequent embrace of Stockton’s concept of lateral growth. Written language and linear narrative inevitably fail to adequately reconstruct, convey, and process trauma because traumatic memories are formed in the part of the brain that functions outside of language and chronological time and relies instead on sensory experience. I confront this barrier through queer temporality and a form of destabilized communication that does not rely on such language alone. Since any true employment of the concept of the queer must itself perform queerness, I allow my analysis to develop in a manner as fragmented and multiplicitous as television programming itself, which includes an approach of critical closeness and an increasingly organizationally destabilized presentation of the argument. This project’s preoccupation with form stems, in part, from my desire to not only allow for but demand an affective and personal component to academic research and analysis. The supplementary digital module culminates this study of form through its online presentation that enacts the theories argued within it. Paradoxically, “Ring Around the Rosie” is unified through fragmentation: of traumatic memories, of queer temporality, and of viewer engagement with fictional texts.