The worst place on Earth to be a woman : novelists, playwrights, and memoirists on the Congo armed conflicts (1996-2010)


This dissertation calls attention to six important contemporary texts that portray the effects of the Congo armed conflicts on individuals and their communities. Using trauma and literary theories, I examine how the psychological consequences of war are represented in two novels by Pius Ngandu Nkashama and Mashingaidze Gomo, two plays by Lynn Nottage and Fabien Honoré Kabeya Mukamba, and two memoirs by Lisa J. Shannon and Joseph Mwantuali. My dissertation demonstrates how the selected writers help their readers understand the long-lasting devastating impact of violence on civilians by recreating in their texts moments and symptoms of emotional and psychological trauma. By focusing on the narrative and stylistic techniques these writers deploy in their texts, I reveal the differences and similarities in the way they approach the various issues of armed conflicts and in the goals they are attempting to achieve in their texts. Some of these writers, as this work illustrates, present fragmented speeches and dialogues to draw attention to the effects of traumatic memories while others incorporate songs and poems into their texts to highlight the role that music and poetry can play in the healing of trauma. My dissertation ultimately shows that the differences among the selected writers underscore the complexities involved in the narration of war stories.


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