Organizer: Yiru Lim
Co-Organizer: Kit Ying LyeContact the Seminar Organizers
When we hear, read, or watch a narrative of a violent or traumatic event, we are often fixated on its representation. We hang on to details about location; we want to find out who the perpetrators and victims are; we want to know how many were affected; we want to investigate causes, determine consequences beyond the already known. We pursue veracity and accountability in the telling (the narrative; the means), which we hope will do justice to the told, or perhaps also to present cautionary tales for the future.
Much of the pursuit for an accurate, ethical representation of such events continues to be necessary for our understanding of violence and trauma, and the people and communities who both perpetuate and suffer violence. Beyond these concerns for truth and responsibility however, are the narratives themselves –– how is the telling altered by violence? How does one tell / write / show after and amid continuing violence? How is the telling received and retold?
Engaging with the above questions can help illuminate how violence has been defined, perceived and used in various historical contexts and cultural mediums. For one, nation-building narratives are usually centred on one or a series of particularly violent and traumatic nation-wide events. On a more personal level, there are ‘quieter’ or ‘hidden’ forms of violence, e.g., suppressing known / original practices in order to fit in, or the silence of individuals experiencing gendered violence or racial discrimination. Literary devices moreover allow for restitution not always forthcoming in real life, e.g., enacting gruesome revenge for gendered oppression in everyday life.
We invite papers that discuss varied and novel ways of understanding and characterising violence, and which explore the ‘violent psyches’ of narratives and writing across a variety of mediums and platforms, to consider the traits narratives primarily concerned with violence and trauma may possess, and engage with the spectre of violence and trauma that continues to haunt and therefore influence the telling and form of such narratives.
Possible topics may include:
- Testimonial narratives
- Violence and the imagination
- Historicising violence and trauma
- Memory, history and public representation
- Constructions of terror
- Ethics and storytelling
- Censorship and silence
- Truth and reconciliation