First Responders: Care in Literature, Art and Psychoanalysis

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University of Califonria Santa Barbara Interdisciplinary Humanities Center
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Thursday-Friday, May 8-9, 2014
Abstract deadline: Monday, March 3, 2014

Arriving on the scene of accidents and emergencies, first responders provide assistance to the wounded, initiating a continuum of care that was first systematized by the military medical profession in the Battle of Gettysburg. This conference seeks to explore literature, art and psychoanalysis as critical (in both the urgent and analytic sense of the term), even lifesaving, forms of first response. It will examine how discursive practices and interactions – from storytelling to testimony, from play to art-making – can make suffering visible, and, in the aftermath of injury, can also aid in healing. Papers from literary and film studies, art, performance studies, the theory of mind, narrative medicine, trauma studies and other fields are all welcome. Themes could include emergency, crisis, wounding, individual and societal healing, and empathy. We invite presentations that attend to textual or visual representations of vulnerability, in the spirit of Adorno's dictum, "The need to let suffering speak is a condition of all truth." We also welcome explorations of non-caring, indifference and neglect.

To participate, please send a 250-word abstract and a brief CV to by Monday, March 3, 2014. If you have questions about the conference, please contact IHC Associate Director Emily Zinn: