(Mis-)Representations – Trauma Discourses and Cultural Productions
University of Zurich, 17.10. 2009
The conference is free and open to anyone interested in the topic.
If you would like to attend the conference, please register with the registration form below by Friday, October 9.
Extended registration deadline: Wednesday, October 14.
Please note: Registration for pre-conference and conference dinner closed. Spontaneous or last-minute guests to attend all or parts of the conference still very welcome!
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Susannah Radstone (University of East London):
"Looking Elsewhere: Trauma and the Hidden"
Moving far beyond its origins in medical terminology, “trauma” has enjoyed a multitude of applications in various disciplines. Where trauma originally denoted a physical wound, within the fields of psychoanalysis and psychology, any inspection or treatment of the traumatic wound shifts the main emphasis from somatic to psychic topologies. With the inclusion of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) into the official diagnostic manual in 1980, public awareness of trauma increased rapidly. Since the mid 1990s trauma has also gained a great deal in currency within fields other than psychology and psychiatry. Scholars such as Cathy Caruth, Dominick LaCapra, Shoshana Felman and Lawrence Langer have introduced trauma theory as a central concern of their literary interpretations. The term has taken on cultural dimensions due largely to its relevance for issues of collective identity, and has thus become popular in Cultural Studies. The vogue of the concept has also necessarily been contingent on a succession of historical conditions – two World Wars, the Vietnam War, (post)colonialism and global terrorism – as well as on changes in the ideologies, philosophy, and cultural practices of the West: particularly the popularization of psychoanalytic discourse and the proliferation of public stagings of personal suffering in the mass media. While the concept of trauma has traditionally been used to address concerns of the victimized and marginalized, it has also come to function well as a paradigm for postmodern anxieties concerning experience and representation.
Though a widespread interest in concepts of trauma presents possibilities for fecund transdisciplinary interconnections and knowledge transfer, its apparent protean adaptability also requires a continual critical reevaluation of its applications. This international, interdisciplinary conference – which is conceived as a forum of exchange primarily for doctoral and post-doctoral researchers – aims to explore the potentials and the limitations of the concept of trauma in its various appropriations for cultural productions.
The conference is supported by the English Department, the Zürcher Gender Studies Graduiertenkolleg 2008-2011 and the VAUZ (Vereinigung akademischer Mittelbau der Universität Zürich).