CFP: [International] (Mis-)Representations: Trauma Discourses and Cultural Productions

full name / name of organization: 
Scott Loren
contact email: 

Postgraduate conference, 17.10.09, University of Zurich

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 â€" two World Wars, the Vietnam War, (post)colonialism and global
terrorism â€" 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
The aim of this conference â€" which is conceived as a forum of exchange
primarily for doctoral and post-doctoral researchers â€" is to explore the
potentials and the limitations of the concept of trauma in its various
appropriations for cultural productions. We invite contributions on topics
from various fields and eras of literary or cultural studies. Topics to be
considered include, but are not limited to, the following:

- Representation of Trauma in Literature, Art and Media
- Trauma and Narrative
- Gendered Trauma and Traumas of Gender
- Testimony, Truth, Ethics
- Trauma, Memory and Identity
- Collective / Cultural Trauma
- Trauma and Language
- Application of trauma discourses for cultural and literary analysis
- Definitions of trauma and their political and cultural implications
- Histories of Trauma, Traumatic Histories

Please send a 250-word proposal for a 20-minute talk and a brief CV to by 29 May 2009. Further information will soon be
available on the website of the English Seminar, University of Zurich:

 From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
             more information at
Received on Tue Feb 10 2009 - 12:36:06 EST