This course will examine why it is so difficult to pass on stories of trauma. To what extent are stories of trauma passed on (narrated), and to what extent are they passed on (overlooked)? What makes it possible for them to be narrated, and what limits this possibility? We will consider the role of language, the psyche, shame and pleasure in answering these questions.
Secondly, we will examine how the passing on of trauma shapes the identities of survivors, bystanders, and more broadly, ethnicity, race and gender. We will play close attention to the ways in which identity can both be torn asunder in the wake of trauma, and, also, paradoxically, how it can be constructed through the ‘wakefulness’ of trauma.
These questions will be pursued through a broad range of literature, film and the news media. We will consider how these questions are addressed from the positions of survivors, bystanders and perpetrators – and the instability between these boundaries which often occurs.
Song of Roland
Elie Wiesel, The Accident, Night
Toni Morrison, Beloved
Leo Tolstoy, Kreutzer Sonata
Slavenka Drakulic, S. A Novel About the Balkans
Marquis de Sade, Philosophy of the Bedroom
Films including Life is Beautiful and Wag the Dog
A course reader to include newspaper articles and psychoanalytic and philosophical essays on the course topic
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