CFP: ‘Traumatic Modernities: From Comparative Literature to Medical Humanities International Conference and Seminars’, Krakow

Traumatic Modernities: From Comparative Literature to Medical Humanities International Conference and Seminars

Location: Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Dates: 19th – 21st April 2017

Organizers: Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Faculty of Polish Studies, Jagiellonian University in collaboration with Hejna Family Chair in Polish Literature and Language at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Research Centre for Memory Cultures, JU & SPeCTReSS.

Consortium: Trinity College Dublin; Rurh-Universität, Bochum; University of Zagreb, University of Tartu, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, University of São Paolo, Yale University, University of Tokyo.

Trauma, a term borrowed from the language of medicine for cultural theory and the social sciences, has joined the vocabularies of many disciplines over the last two decades; they use it to describe the aftermath of devastating events that shatter the integrity of individual and community experiences.

This aftermath affects various systems of representation, mechanisms for constructing knowledge, and the organization of private and public space, generally pertaining to such phenomena as: the Holocaust, genocide, slavery, colonization and decolonization, environmental catastrophes, accidents, sexual abuse, exclusion founded on gender, race, origins, domestic violence, war, ethnic and religious conflicts, political revolutions, terrorism, or forced migration.

Specific historical events have inspired scholars to pose some questions about the role of trauma in shaping individual and community memory and identity, and about its positive and negative consequences. This role involves the position of the witness, the victim, or the bystander and their ethical dimensions, the mechanisms of intergenerational transmission developed on a biological and cultural plane (postmemory, post-traumatic stress disorder, post-traumatic culture, traumatic realism), as well as places particularly marked by painful events (traumascapes, shattered spaces).

In our day, the category of trauma often pertains to the subject’s experience of pain, illness, suffering, disability, dying, and their social perception – phenomena particularly examined in terms of the dynamic field of the medical humanities.

In the present conference we will be particularly interested in trauma as a category for diagnosing modernity, and one that accompanies various discourses tied to modernization processes. We are looking for new readings of the classic texts (Freud, Lacan), categories, or theories in trauma studies, as well as presentations demonstrating the applicability of the concept of trauma in projects involving various symbolic practices.

We are inviting scholars from different fields, disciplines, and sub-disciplines: doctors (including psychiatrists, palliative medicine specialists, and oncologists), neurobiologists, psychologists, lawyers, political scientists, philosophers, sociologists, religious scholars, literary scholars, visual culture researchers, scholars of film and performance, people researching memory, forensic aesthetics, pop culture, translation, and so on.

We are interested in presentations that draw from the concept of cultural trauma inspired by the work of the intellectual patrons and participants in the SpeCTReSS project: Jeffrey Ch. Alexander, Ron Eyerman, and Piotr Sztompka.

Presentation proposal submissions (up to 300 words) should be sent to: and by March 14, 2017). The conference organizers will provide accommodation. We also plan to supply catering during the sessions and a joint supper. The conference fees amount to 100 EUR; 450 PLN. Information on accepted proposals will be e-mailed by March 18, 2017. We plan to publish an English-language volume tied to the topic of the conference.

This event will be partially funded by the SPeCTReSS project (The Social Performance, Cultural Trauma and the Reestablishing of Solid Sovereignties) under the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska Curie Programme, contract number 612654, and the National Program for the Development of the Humanities.

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