JOURNAL ISSUE - Acting Out - Trauma and the Ethics of Remembrance (full submission March 15th 2012)

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Performing Ethos: Interntation Journal of Ethics in Theatre and Performance
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Performing Ethos: International Journal of Ethics in Theatre and Performance

‘Acting Out – Trauma and the Ethics of Remembrance’,

Volume 3, Issue 2 (November/December 2012)

Writing in 1922, Wittgenstein concluded his text Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus with the statement: ‘Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.’ (Wittgenstein [1922] 1995). Drawing attention to the limits of language, Wittgenstein’s dictum asks us not to speak of that which language fails to take account of.

The event of trauma could certainly be placed under this category. Substantial work undertaken in trauma studies has argued that trauma resists representation and iteration. In Lacanian terms, trauma is that which is ‘unassimilable’ into the symbolic realm of language. For Cathy Caruth, trauma is a ‘wound of the mind’ and that which resists communication (Caruth 1996), while for Ruth Leys it lies ‘beyond cognitive knowledge’ (Leys 2000). And yet, throughout the twentieth century and beyond, we have witnessed in literature and performance, numerous attempts to speak of and act out trauma and bear testimony to the overwhelming catastrophic events that have wrought suffering on those who have endured them.

In this special edition of Performing Ethos, the editors welcome contributions that engage with the problem of acting, speaking and remaining silent in the face of the traumatic. We are particularly interested in how the ‘acting out’ of trauma raises questions about spectatorship and remembrance in relation to the ethics of memory as well as the significance of forgetting.

• What are the ethics of acting out trauma? And what does it mean to speak of ‘acting’ in the context of the traumatic?

• How does drama, theatre and performance negotiate what should be spoken of and of what one should remain silent?

• How do we perform the singularity of trauma within the communal context of remembering?

• If it is impossible to represent traumatic experience, what kind of aesthetics are adequate to the ‘traumatic’ work?

• How is the body positioned phenomenologically within the ‘acting out’ of trauma?

• What is the relationship between performance, acting out, repetition and working through in the context of the traumatic (LaCapra 2001, Freud 1914)?

• How does an enactment of the otherness of trauma negotiate what philosopher Jacques Rancière describes as the ‘[legitimation] of the practice and ideology of liberal democracy’ through the re-appropriation of the ‘rights of the other’ and an ‘infinite respect of Otherness’ (Rancière 2010:60)?

The editors invite articles (5–7000 words), interviews (5–7000 words), short reflections (500–1,000 words) and book reviews (1,000 words) that respond to the focus of the issue.

General inquiries and ideas for interviews and book reviews should be addressed to:

Alison Forsyth at the University of Aberystwyth (UK) (


Amanda Stuart Fisher at Central School of Speech and Drama (UK) (

Completed articles and reflections must be submitted to both editors by 15th March 2012, following the journal guidelines, which are available at

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