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Violent Spectacles and Public Feelings

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Trauma and Affect in The Gospel of Mark and The Thunder: Perfect Mind 

image of Biblical Interpretation

In both the Gospel of Mark and The Thunder: Perfect Mind, paradoxically powerful voices sound through broken bodies thrown into contact with other broken bodies and social outcasts. While Mark brings a (semi-)divine man into contact with the suffering, sick, and hungry multitudes as he journeys through Galilee and Judea on his way to eventual death at the hands of Roman authorities, Thunder’s (semi-)divine speaker contains these multitudes, inhabiting or being inhabited by them, speaking as many, Legion-like, with no particular narrative climax. Through gender dynamics that express and instigate feelings of vulnerability and humiliation, as well as claims to triumph and divine association, Mark’s Jesus and Thunder’s speaker exemplify and confound social, gendered inflections of vulnerability, virility, and divinity. As texts composed in the midst of cultural upheaval and anticolonial anguish, Mark and Thunder function as trauma narratives that present pained and creative responses to violence and oppression. Following Ann Cvetkovich’s work on public feelings and affective archives, I treat Mark and Thunder as archives of feeling that enable or mark the vital traces of new practices and publics and gesture toward counterpublic responses to trauma.

Affiliations: 1: Harvard Divinity School


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