Trauma in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson

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Nahro O. Maulood
Sherzad SH. Barzani


August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson (1987) is a play which deals with the social life of a broken African American family in Pittsburg – a city in Pennsylvania – who migrated from the South. The family’s grandparents, who were slaves on a Southern plantation, were separated and exchanged with a piano. This shocking incident causes cross-generational trauma and other traumatic incidents for the family as they retrieved the piano. This study examines the play through the lens of Literary Trauma Theory. This theory appeared in the middle of 1990s, henceforth it has been developed by so many scholars, and the latest revision is made by Joshua Pederson, an Associate Professor of Humanities at Boston University, in 2014. The first wave of the theorists claim that trauma causes amnesia for the victims; they can neither remember nor describe what they have experienced, but Pederson in his revised edition of the theory proves the opposite. By applying the latest version of trauma theory this study shows how slavery, its aftermath or its legacy affected and haunted African Americans, and created trauma or historical trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for the African Americans.


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Maulood, N. O. and Barzani, S. S. (2020) “Trauma in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson”, Koya University Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(1), pp. 107-122. doi: 10.14500/kujhss.v3n1y2020.pp107-122.
Author Biographies

Nahro O. Maulood, Department of English Language, College of Languages, Salahaddin University- Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Nahro Othman Maulood, BA in English Language and Literature – College of Languages/ Salahaddin University 2005, MA in English Literature – University of Koya 2009, Ph.D. in English Literature – University of Sulaimani 2019, Lecturer in English literature in the Department of English/College of Languages at the University of Salahaddin. 

Sherzad SH. Barzani, Department of English Language, College of Languages, Salahaddin University- Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Dr. Sherzad Shafi' Babo is an assistant professor of Modern English Poetry who teaches English Literature at Salahaddin University, College of Languages, English Department in Erbil since 2001. Dr. Babo's major is Modern American poetry furthermore he teaches Novel, Literary Theory and Criticism, Drama and so on. He has supervised many M.A. theses and Ph.D. dissertations in different fields of Colonialism, Post-colonialism, Magical Realism, Trauma Theory, Eco- criticism and Cultural Studies. He is a poet and translator who has translated and published two books from English into Kurdish: Macbeth by Shakespeare in 2017 and The Little Tippler by Emily Dickinson in 2015. The most prominent translation of Dr. Babo is Mam and Zin the Kurdish famous epic and love story from Kurdish into Persian which has been published by Salahaddin University in 2012.


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