Trauma Theory in/and Indigenous Literatures

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
contact email: 

    Trauma is a notoriously slippery concept to identify and comprehend, however, many theorists—-most notably Cathy Caruth in Unclaimed Experience—have argued that literature provides a means of representing and of ‘working-through’ experiences which otherwise have gone “unclaimed.” Absent from literary trauma theories, such as Caruth’s, however, is a consideration of the euro-centric core of theories of trauma. This absence can be attributed to the origins of literary trauma theory that emerged primarily out of Freudian psychoanalytic psychology and/or the deconstructive philosophy of the Yale School and Paul de Man. More recently, theorists such as Michael Rothberg in Multidirectional Memory and Stef Craps in Postcolonial Witnessing have attempted to address these origins and to conceive of a more expansive understanding of literary trauma. Nonetheless, their texts only begin the work of decolonizing literary trauma theory, and frequently lacks the requisite close reading and cultural specificity demanded to produce real conceptual change. 

    This panel is interested in exploring the uses and limitations of literary trauma theory to approach literatures by Indigenous North American writers. Of particular interest to the panel are the ways in which Indigenous conceptions of time, space, and relationality interact with, resist, or otherwise contest the equivalent concepts within euro-centric settler-colonial world-views, and how questions of gender and/or sexuality are posed and represented in the context of Indigenous literatures. Research that makes use of interdisciplinary approaches and/or methodologies is also of especial interest. Geographically, this panel is open to research that considers the literature of Indigenous writers from across the globe including the lands that today are called North and South America, Hawaii, and Oceania.


    Please submit abstracts of 200-300 words at by September 30th 2019 to be considered for the panel. Questions and concerns can be sent to