Trauma in the Age of Trauma

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
MMLA 2022 in Minneapolis
contact email: 

Recent essays and articles in publications like The Atlantic and Vox have voiced growing concerns about the increasing elasticity of “trauma.” Even so, those same texts note the value of recognizing others’ trauma and of responding ethically to their stories. This worth is particularly evident in the wake of the many Covid-related traumatic events and the most recent racial reckonings (that may or may not have occurred) in the US and around the world.

In keeping with the MMLA 2022 theme of “Post-Now” and with the above concerns about conceptual pliability in mind, this panel will ask what our duty as literature, film, writing, and humanities scholars and educators to the traumatized entails in the wake of recent traumatic events. What practices and understandings will contribute to the continued usefulness of the concept “trauma”? How do we remain open to those traumas scholars are most likely to contest or fail to recognize while simultaneously keeping the term from expanding so much as to be rendered meaningless? Or should the latter even be our concern?

Questions presentations may address include but are not limited to:

- What are some examples of trauma texts that do a particularly (in)effective job of documenting a traumatic moment? What can we learn from them?

- What are some approaches writers of any kind can use in order to ethically write about trauma?

- How do we teach about trauma in a manner that helps witnesses feel heard and not tokenized?

- How can social media serve as a tool for bearing witness with/to the traumatized rather than re-traumatizing them?  

Proposals of 300 words or fewer for 15-minute long presentations can be submitted to Eric Doise at eric.doise@smsu.edu by April 15.