Narrating Trauma in the Iraq Wars

full name / name of organization: 
45th Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

Narrating Trauma in the Iraq Wars

45th Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 3-6, 2014
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Host: Susquehanna University

In his memoir Jarhead, Anthony Swofford describes his feelings at the end of the Persian Gulf War: "There is a wreck in your head, part of the aftermath, and you must dismantle the wreck" (247). The physical and emotional traumas of the wars in Iraq haunt the narratives of the soldiers who write about them. These traumas may manifest themselves in a myriad of ways—including through language, imagery, and genre—and are rooted both in the universal experience of fighting in a war and in the particulars of the wars in Iraq. This panel welcomes papers that explore the representation of trauma in the literature of the wars in Iraq and the multiple cultural locations – fiction, memoir, film, digital, and visual among them – in which veterans of the Iraq Wars have represented their experiences as traumatic. Among the questions that we hope to explore are the following: In what ways, specifically, are these wars traumatic, and to what extent is recovery possible? How have veterans represented their experiences during the first two U.S.-led wars after the recognition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? In what ways does the narration of these traumas require innovative stylistic choices? Who are the real and imagined audiences for these narratives, and how have they responded? How do these representations intersect with other historical and political debates about mental health, American militarism, and U.S. foreign policy? To what extent does writing about these traumas constitute a form of political engagement and activism? Please send 250 word abstracts and a one-page CV to Zivah Perel Katz, Queensborough Community College, CUNY at and Dave Kieran, Franklin and Marshall College at

Deadline: September 30, 2013
Please include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee with registration)

The 2014 NeMLA convention continues the Association's tradition of sharing innovative scholarship in an engaging and generative location. This capitol city set on the Susquehanna River is known for its vibrant restaurant scene, historical sites, the National Civil War museum, and nearby Amish Country, antique shops and Hershey Park. NeMLA has arranged low hotel rates of $104-$124.

The 2014 event will include guest speakers, literary readings, professional events, and workshops. A reading by George Saunders will open the Convention. His 2013 collection of short fiction, The Tenth of December, has been acclaimed by the New York Times as: "the best book you'll read this year." NeMLA's Keynote Speaker will be David Staller, Producer and Director of Project Shaw. Mr. Staller presents monthly script-in-hand performances of Bernard Shaw's plays at the Players Club in New York City.

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however, panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.