Date of Graduation

Fall 2015


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Matthew Calihman


The Iraqi war narrative reflects the traumatizing situation that omnipresence of war and three decades of oppression have caused to Iraqis' views of life. Writing about their traumatic experience is an essential way of giving voice to their wounds. The Iraqi American novelist Sinan Antoon is a "wounded storyteller" who is able to give words to the wounds of his homeland. His two novels, I'jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody and The Corpse Washer, address the physical and psychological trauma of wars and prolonged years of oppression in Iraq. Academic research and literary production about the effect of trauma presented in the Iraqi narrative is fairly limited in comparison to that of both World Wars and the Vietnam War. This project explores the textual representations of traumatic neurosis in these two books. It uses the theoretical lens of Sigmund Freud's theory of trauma, Cathy Caruth's explanation of trauma in literary texts, and the traumatic symptoms proposed by Judith Herman. I propose that Antoon's use of stylistic devices, such as nightmares, fragmentation, and nonlinear narrative reflects the disintegrated lives of the characters. I conclude that trauma has led to the novels' Iraqis' confusing sense of life and death and a strong diasporic urge. The conclusion also suggests that analyzing Antoon's trauma narrative offers an explanation and an insight into Iraqis' pervading sense of alienation, powerlessness, stagnation, and resignation.


Sinan Antoon, Iraqi fiction, war trauma, war fiction, war literature, Iraq wars, trauma, trauma fiction, literature

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


© Zahraa Qasim Habeeb

Open Access