FIGHT CLUB AND LULLABY: THE TRAUMATIC SHIFT IN CHUCK PALAHNIUK’S FICTION


Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Istanbul University, Faculty Of Literature, Batı Dilleri Ve Edebiyatları Bölümü, Turkey

Approval Date: 2021

Thesis Language: English

Student: Halilcan Sap

Consultant: Kudret Nezir Yunusoğlu

Abstract:

Her ne kadar ismi çoğunlukla Fight Club (1999) ile anılsa da, Chuck Palahniuk takip eden yıllarda da istikrarlı bir şekilde üretmeye devam etmiş ve bilhassa popüler kültür bağlamında adından sıkça söz ettirmiştir. Yapıtlarını kimi diğer yazarların eserleriyle birlikte “transgresif” romanlar olarak tanımlayan yazarın yaklaşımı, hem kendisinin hem de eleştirmenlerin gözlemlediği üzre, 11 Eylül saldırılarının ertesinde değişime uğramıştır. Bu gözlem geçerliliğini koruyor olsa da, bu değişimin yazarın 11 Eylül’den sonraki yapıtlarına nasıl aksettiğine ve 11 Eylül felâketinin Palahniuk’in yazınına nasıl yansıdığına dair kapsamlı bir açıklama getirilmemiştir. Bu çalışma, bu açıklamayı getirmeyi amaçlamakta, bunu gerçekleştirirken de, hem yazarın kendi edebî felsefesinden, hem de 11 Eylül saldırılarının tabiatından hareketle travma çalışmalarından yararlanmaktadır. Dominick LaCapra’nın edebiyat ve travma üzerine tezlerini, bilhassa da “travmatik yazın” ve “working through” ile “acting out” reformülasyonunu temel alan bu tez, metodolojik açıdan ise Ann Kaplan’ın gözlemlerinden ve “11 Eylül saldırılarının yeni bir öznellik inşâ ettiği” görüşünden yola çıkmaktadır. Bu teorik çerveve ile, bu tez, travma çalışmaları dâhilinde yazarın eserlerinin neden genel itibarıyla ihmal edildiği sorusuna da eğilirken, en nihâyetinde, yazarın kendine özgü yaklaşımını en iyi ortaya koyan eseri Fight Club ile 11 Eylül vakâsından sonraki ilk yapıtı olan Lullaby (2002) romanlarının “travmatik yazın” sıfatını hakettiği pozisyonunu alarak, benzer örgüleri takip eden bu iki eserin birbirlerinden ayrıldıkları en mühim hususun post-travmatik sürece olan yaklaşımları olduğunu, ve bu farklılığın Ann Kaplan’ın gözlemlediği “yeni öznelliği” yansıttığını ortaya koymaktadır.

Albeit mostly known for his best-selling novel Fight Club, (1999) Chuck Palahniuk has steadily kept producing and gained a prominent place in popular culture. While the author asserts that his works belong to a group of “transgressive” novels, as he and critics observe, his approach has undergone a noticeable change following 9/11. Despite the acceptance of this assertion, a detailed account of this shift and the role played by 9/11 in prompting this change has not yet been given. This study attempts to provide a detailed account of this phenomenon, and taking into consideration both the author’s philosophy and the nature of the 9/11 attacks, uses the theoretical and critical lens provided by trauma studies. While utilizing Dominick LaCapra’s theories vis-à-vis trauma and literature, especially his formulation of “traumatic writing” and reformulation of the “working through” and “acting out” duo, this study takes as its departure point Ann Kaplan’s methodology, and suggestion that “9/11 produced a new subjectivity.” While the reason(s) for the dearth of analyses of Palahniuk’s works in trauma studies scholarship will also be considered, under the light provided by this theoretical framework, this study holds the position that Palahniuk’s most famous, signature work Fight Club and his first novel after 9/11, Lullaby (2002) constitute excellent examples of “traumatic writing,” and further that the most significant point on which the two novels diverge is their approach towards and portrayal of the post-traumatic process and that this stark divergence is indicative of the “new subjectivity” posited by Kaplan.


Albeit mostly known for his best-selling novel Fight Club, (1999) Chuck Palahniuk has steadily kept producing and gained a prominent place in popular culture. While the author asserts that his works belong to a group of “transgressive” novels, as he and critics observe, his approach has undergone a noticeable change following 9/11. Despite the acceptance of this assertion, a detailed account of this shift and the role played by 9/11 in prompting this change has not yet been given. This study attempts to provide a detailed account of this phenomenon, and taking into consideration both the author’s philosophy and the nature of the 9/11 attacks, uses the theoretical and critical lens provided by trauma studies. While utilizing Dominick LaCapra’s theories vis-à-vis trauma and literature, especially his formulation of “traumatic writing” and reformulation of the “working through” and “acting out” duo, this study takes as its departure point Ann Kaplan’s methodology, and suggestion that “9/11 produced a new subjectivity.” While the reason(s) for the dearth of analyses of Palahniuk’s works in trauma studies scholarship will also be considered, under the light provided by this theoretical framework, this study holds the position that Palahniuk’s most famous, signature work Fight Club and his first novel after 9/11, Lullaby (2002) constitute excellent examples of “traumatic writing,” and further that the most significant point on which the two novels diverge is their approach towards and portrayal of the post-traumatic process and that this stark divergence is indicative of the “new subjectivity” posited by Kaplan.