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Recording Reality, Desiring the Real$
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Elizabeth Cowie

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816645480

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816645480.001.0001

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Documenting the Real

Documenting the Real

(p.118) 4 Documenting the Real
Recording Reality, Desiring the Real

Elizabeth Cowie

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines two documentaries about war trauma—War Neuroses: Netley, 1917, Seale Hayne Military Hospital 1918 and Let There Be Light—to explore the ways in which nonfiction film, with its assertion of the knowability of the world, may also be a “document of the real” in Lacan’s sense. The first documentary shows the treatment of soldiers who suffered from “shell shock” during World War I while the second presents the treatment of the trauma symptoms of soldiers in the United States during World War II. The chapter also discusses the excesses of signifying in what is shown and what is said in a factual film.

Keywords:   war trauma, documentary, Jacques Lacan, World War I, World War II, factual film, shell shock

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