Signifying Loss

Nouri Gana

Toward a Poetics of Narrative Mourning

227 pages

Now in paperback

By remapping the configurations of mourning across modernist, postmodernist, and postcolonial literatures, psychoanalysis and deconstruction (James Joyce, Jamaica Kincaid, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Elias Khoury, Sigmund Freud, and Jacques Derrida), Signifying Loss studies not only how loss is signified, but also the ethico-political significance of such signifying. First, by examining the dynamics between narrative tropes and mourning, it elaborates a poetics of narrative mourning in which prosopopoeia becomes the master trope of mourning while catachresis the master trope of melancholia and chiasmus of trauma. Second, it develops a situated and flexible theory of mourning, capable of adjusting to diverse contexts in which the ethical and political stakes of mourning are high - in short, Signifying Loss calls for the formulation of geopolitical and differential tactics of mourning and mournability rather than for a clear cut strategy of inconsolability.


"Instantiated in his juxtaposing of Arabic with English and French literary texts, Gana's geopolitics of mourning necessitates the comparative consideration of Arab experiences of loss, trauma, and mourning in particular, as such are most often obscured in culture and criticism alike, and aids in rehumanizing today's perhaps most conspicuous object of discursive as well as military violence. In so doing, this model of comparatism exceeds Gana's stated ambition of opening a space for Arabic in Postcolonial Studies - it moreover renders Arabic an integral and necessary component of any field which aspires to global reach."
- Karim Mattar, University of Colorado at Boulder; Journal of the Society for Contemporary Thought and the Islamicate World; (Winter 2016)

About the author:

Nouri Gana is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature & Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles.


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