CFP: Trauma in the Twenty-First Century (3/16/07; journal issue)

full name / name of organization: 
Kate Douglas


Life Writing
Special Issue 2008

"Trauma in the Twenty-First Century"
Guest editors: Kate Douglas and Gillian Whitlock

This issue of Life Writing seeks to explore the ways in which life narratives of
trauma are circulating in contemporary cultural landscapes. What events and
memories are considered 'traumatic' in the contemporary world and why? Whose
traumatic memories are commemorated in the public sphere? And what is the
political utility of these traumatic memories? What are the implications of
representing an event or memory as traumatic, or in representing an individual
or community as traumatised?

In recent years life writing has become one of the most prominent cultural
spaces for the articulation of traumatic memories—-for instance, narratives of
child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, illness, cultural displacement,
war/conflict and torture have been published in various life writing forms and
media from monographs to websites. Auto/biographical narratives of trauma can
be found in a range of non-fictional literatures from poetry and plays to
self-help books. Traumatic narratives are a constant presence on television
talk shows and current affairs bulletins. Indeed, visual media—-particularly
film, television and documentary—-have played a significant role in
representing and defining trauma. Traumatic life narratives are put to use in
everyday culture. For example, charitable organisations and activists make
appeals for their social justice campaigns using photographs and short
narratives representing traumatic lives.

As Leigh Gilmore argues, the publication of these traumatic narratives "would be
inconceivable were it not for the social and political movements of the past
thirty years that have made it possible for a […] range of people to publish
accounts of their life experiences […] illuminating suppressed histories and
creating new emphases" (The Limits of Autobiography 16). Auto/biographical
texts have played a significant part in conceiving and theorising trauma; in
defining certain events as traumatic; and in shaping cultural memory.
Auto/biographical writings of trauma are used to legitimate experiences, and to
mediate the transmission of personal narratives into public life and
socio-cultural history.
Possible topics might consider, but are not limited to, the areas of:

Theorising trauma within contemporary contexts
Trauma and memory, trauma and amnesia
Life narratives of illness and/or injury
Life narratives following natural disasters
Narratives of torture
Narratives of war/conflict; post-war life writing
Survivor narratives (for instance, survivors of violent crime, survivors of
abuse/neglect); recovered memory syndrome
Narrative therapy as life writing
Life writing and human rights activism
Cross-cultural trauma
Creative non-fiction and responses to trauma
Trauma and cultural memory
Trauma and commemoration
The role of digital media in traumatic remembering; visual and internet media
representations of trauma
The ethical and methodological challenges of writing trauma
Trauma and identity
Cultural displacement and trauma
Racial or sexual oppression as trauma
Inclusion and exclusion; remembering and forgetting
Hauntings and post memory

We are particularly seeking articles that explore the changing landscapes of
trauma narrative, for example post-colonial and non-European sites of
testimony. We encourage submissions on all forms of auto/biography across all

Please send a 300-word abstract or completed papers (between 4000-8000 words
including a short abstract of about 200 words, notes and Works Cited, MLA
style) together with a 100-word biographical note as Word or RTF attachments
to: Dr Kate Douglas ( ) or Professor Gillian
Whitlock (

Abstracts or papers are due on 16th March 2007. Following acceptance, completed
papers will be due on 18th May 2007

--Dr Kate DouglasDepartment of English and Cultural StudiesFlinders University of South AustraliaGPO Box 2100Adelaide 5001ph. 08 82012292fax. 08 82013636e-mail: ========================================================== From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List Full Information at or write Jennifer Higginbotham: ==========================================================Received on Fri Dec 15 2006 - 20:15:48 EST