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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Language, Literature and Humanities

Traumatic Literatures Conference

May 5th and 6th, 2011
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik

As Alain Badiou has argued, the twentieth century was one marked by tragic and traumatic events. In The Century, Badiou emphasizes the predominance of harrowing events in the time period 1914-1989, which saw two World Wars, the Cold War and, centrally, the Holocaust.

Consequently, trauma has inscribed itself into our collective memory and assumed an essential cultural position. The field of traumatic literature has become increasingly varied and abundant, as authors work to capture feelings, thoughts and emotions that an objective normative history either disregards or is unable to encompass.

Escaping precise definition, the concept of trauma consistently carries notions of unreliability and a lack of cohesion or structure. Traumatic literature frequently involves delving into unknown wounds left by tragedy, attempts to speak the unspeakable and make the incomprehensible comprehensible.

A reevaluation of historiographic methodology – both in academia and popular culture – has questioned the plausibility of objective accounts of history. In contrast to traditional normative history, which has proven woefully inadequate in rendering trauma, literature has shown itself to be a productive means for narrating traumatic experiences. As a result, traumatic literature provides a fertile field for exploration and evaluation of human experience.

In light of this, the Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik cordially invites you to examine the nature of traumatic literatures and testimonies with us.

Edward Barry, Júlia Neves, Florian Vey, Paul Leworthy

  • Konferenzposter (PDF)
  • Konferenzmappe (PDF)