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Trauma and Identity: Better Development in Fictional Characters and Narratives

Nikkola Brown
Nikkola Brown
Faculty Adviser(s)

This project is the culmination of two semesters of work regarding ethical depictions of trauma within prose writing. This research serves to answer the question of "How should writers properly fictionalize trauma-based narratives and characters in order to prevent harming audiences?" Trauma should inform our narratives and characters to make all writing, especially fiction, a safe and welcoming environment. After all, it is with our readers that a work’s lessons are shared and kept alive. If we are to exclude a reader, even accidentally, we are harming them, our craft, and our work. Using the novels Beloved (1987), Maus (1993), and Monkey Bridge (1997) alongside a variety of secondary sources including literary criticism, I researched how the authors have accurately captured trauma and traumatized protagonists within their works. In order to engage in literary citizenship, writers must be aware of how our depictions can affect our audiences. With this research, I have produced a craft essay and a fiction excerpt modeling the strategies learned from authors used within my study.  


Nikkola Brown is a Creative Writing, English, and Health Humanities triple major who spends most of her time reading and writing. Born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Nikkola spent her early years working towards a goal in STEM, only to discover her true passion in the humanities. She has hopes of attending graduate school to pursue degrees in English and Creative Writing to achieve her goal of becoming a professor.