Mapping Generations of Traumatic Memory in American Narratives (deadline for abstracts: May 31st)

full name / name of organization: 
American Studies Center, University of Bucharest

This is a CFP for a volume to be published by Dr. Roxana Oltean, Dr. Mihaela Precup, Dr. Dana Mihailescu as part of a 3-year research project entitled Cross-Cultural Encounters in American Trauma Narratives: A Comparative Approach to Personal and Collective Memories.

We are looking for authors to contribute to a collection of essays entitled Mapping Generations of Traumatic Memory in American Narratives. Submitted proposals are expected to explore the connection between the performance of post-traumatic memory and urban space in the United States. Identifying the mechanisms of traumatic memory for various generations of trauma survivors has been an increasing focus of scholarship and public attention in recent decades, in the works of important scholars such as Mieke Bal, Shoshana Felman, Dominick La Capra, Marianne Hirsch, Leo Spitzer, Nancy K. Miller, Michael Rothberg, Cathy Caruth, and others. Marianne Hirsch's concept of "postmemory" (1997) as a type of memory transmitted from generation to generation through family ties, responsibilities and storytelling, as well as Peggy Phelan's "performative memory" (1997), Dora Apel's "secondary witnessing" (2002), Alison Landsberg's "prosthetic memory" (2004) and Michael Rothberg's "multidirectional memory" (2009) are all essential to current scholarly examinations of generations of (post)traumatic memory and their manifestation in a public space which is often that of the city. In the US, this research topic has regained momentum especially after the events of September 11. The area is rapidly growing, especially because mapping generations of traumatic memory lends itself to an extremely productive interdisciplinary framework, from psychology to literary, visual, ethnic and gender studies.
The connection between memory and the city has been most famously explored by Pierre Nora's monumental collection Lieux de mémoire/Sites of Memory (1984, 1989), where he diagnosed the death of "authentic memory" and its replacement in the urban space with sites such as memorials, museums, and other visual representations that, together with various commemoration practices, regulate national life frames (cf. Butler). More recently, Andreas Huyssen's Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (Stanford, 2003) emphasized the high stakes of urban spaces and media as material palimpsests offering "traces of the historical past in the present." More specifically related to the American urban space, Marita Sturken's Tourists of History (2007) demonstrated the embeddedness of trauma in particular American urban spaces, such as Oklahoma City and Ground Zero.

This volume is part of this particular conversation as it attempts to explore the innovative insights American Studies scholars can gain from analyzing particular features of cross-generational traumatic memories that inscribe themselves in urban spaces, past and present.

We particularly welcome proposals addressing one of the following topics (applied to literature, film, popular culture, visual culture, media etc.):

- urban spaces and the poetics/politics of memory
- personal/historical traumas of the city
- U.S. cities/city narratives as sites of traumatic memory / comparative perspectives on U.S. and Eastern European cities/city narratives as sites of traumatic memory
- utopian/dystopian cities and trauma
- gendered traumas and city life
- violence, genocide, and traumatic transmission in the city
- city memorials/museums constructed as sites of mourning
- commemoration practices related to post-war/post-traumatic events
- cross-generational configurations of trauma and city life
- celebrity deaths and urban shrines
- violence and public mourning (as in public riots etc.)
- autobiography, trauma, and the city
- visual and verbal accounts of trauma and the city
- contested spaces of memory and trauma in the city
- the post-human and post-traumatic in fantastic urban spaces or cities of the future (SciFi, fantasy)

500-word abstracts and a short 150-word bio must be submitted before May 31, 2013, to Dana Mihailescu ( and Mihaela Precup ( Final papers of notified authors (8000-9000-word long, written in accordance with the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th ed.) will be due on August 31, 2013.