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Trauma and the Materiality of Care

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Organizer: Jay Rajiva

Co-Organizer: Sarah Senk

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This seminar examines how fictional representations of trauma deal with the problem of care (for oneself or for others) in precarious and systematically broken modes of collective existence. We are particularly interested in how the anxiety of potential trauma to come (in contexts marked by ongoing and collective violence, for example) shapes the material response to recovery and healing. We invite submissions centered on literature, film, graphic novels, television, or any other medium that addresses any of the following questions: How does literature dramatize the material conditions that constrain, enable, or complicate the practice of caring for traumatized bodies? How does it illustrate the complexity of caring practices that may differ from received wisdom on the “proper” way to recover from trauma? What kinds of narrative strategies are used to represent the vexed and provisional process of caring for a body, and how do these strategies align with (or challenge) the aesthetic dimensions of literature? Can we speak of an ethics of care in literature, and what are its formal characteristics? What is the relationship between care and witnessing? In what ways does recent empirical research -- such as the concept of post-traumatic growth, for example -- unsettle or problematize deconstruction as a methodological foundation for trauma studies? How does the representation of trauma and care intersect with the experiences of migration, displacement, diaspora? Papers that center on global, indigenous, and postcolonial contexts, and that explore different forms of trauma (including but not limited to collective, insidious, intergenerational, and cultural trauma), are particularly welcome.

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