Special Issue "Wounded: Studies in Literary and Cinematic Trauma"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for submission of proposals (see below): 1 February 2017
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 September 2017).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Gail Finney
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Comparative Literature, University of California, Davis, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA
Interests: psychoanalysis and literature/film, especially trauma theory; turn of-the-century european drama and culture; modern drama; the nineteenth-century european novel; feminism

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We live in an era of traumatic discourse. The wound (trauma is the Greek word for “wound”) speaks multiple languages. Often the trauma registered is political—the trauma of war in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other nations and the concomitant European migrant crisis. Literature and films about Hiroshima, Vietnam, 9/11, and, perhaps above all, the Holocaust, abound. We encounter memoirs of survivors, and now memoirs of the children of survivors, in connection with whom Marianne Hirsch has coined the term “postmemory.” Furthermore, the recent series of brutal and unjust actions toward unarmed blacks by white law officers is generating a new discourse of the long-standing trauma of race relations in the United States.

Autobiographical and other narratives of family trauma are also flourishing. Memoirs by the dozen seek to come to terms with childhood and youthful experiences scarred by radical alienation between family members, extreme poverty, addictions of all kinds, child and spousal abuse, child molestation and parent-child incest, sibling incest, divorce, suicide, and murder.

Traumatic experience is frequently rendered in fantastic terms, as in the manifold science fiction and horror representations of vampires, zombies, ghosts, and interstellar travelers, which can be read as displaced manifestations of post 9/11 paranoia or of a generalized culture of trauma.

This Special Issue, therefore, invites new approaches to the study of collective or individual trauma as presented in literature or film. All national traditions are welcomed.

Deadline for Proposal Submissions: 1 February 2017

Deadline for completed papers, if selected (5000–7000 words): 1 September, 2017

Humanities, an international, scholarly, open access journal, and its Guest Editor, Professor Gail Finney, are seeking proposals for a Special Issue focused on “Literary and Cinematic Trauma.”

Submit 250–500 word proposals for original contributions and a 100-word biography (include selected publications) by 1 February 2017; please email both the Guest Editor, as indicated above, and the journal ([email protected]).

Prof. Dr. Gail Finney
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Trauma
  • War
  • Severe family dysfunction
  • Holocaust
  • Postmemory
  • Racial strife
  • Trauma and the Fantastic, e.g., Zombies

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Transferential Memory Spaces in Gisela Heidenreich’s Das endlose Jahr
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010026 - 15 Mar 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
What does it mean to be German after Hitler and National Socialism? Gisela Heidenreich’s memoir Das endlose Jahr: Die langsame Entdeckung der eigenen Biographie—ein Lebensborn Schicksal (The Endless Year: The Slow Discovery of My Own Biography—A Lebensborn Destiny, 2002), highlights the dependence on [...] Read more.
What does it mean to be German after Hitler and National Socialism? Gisela Heidenreich’s memoir Das endlose Jahr: Die langsame Entdeckung der eigenen Biographie—ein Lebensborn Schicksal (The Endless Year: The Slow Discovery of My Own Biography—A Lebensborn Destiny, 2002), highlights the dependence on physical markers and monuments in understanding one’s place in history. Heidenreich discovers her origin as a Lebensborn child through family secrets, but it is not until she traverses the landscape of her past that she truly begins to understand her place within history. I argue that, along with family photographs and narratives, places play an integral role in the identity process through the metaphor of the palimpsest. In Heidenreich’s memoir, the German notion of Heimat reveals itself as a process, rather than a static and immovable space. Das endlose Jahr addresses the interplay between memory, places, and space through Heidenreich’s complex relationship with her mother, and her ambivalent sense of belonging through the palimpsest markers that remain. At its core, Das endlose Jahr is a memoir about the search for Heimat in all the wrong places. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
What Lies in the Gutter of a Traumatic Past: Infancia clandestina [Clandestine Childhood], Animated Comics, and the Representation of Violence
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010022 - 06 Mar 2018
Abstract
This essay focuses on the animated comics in the representation of violence in Benjamín Ávila’s Infancia clandestina [Clandestine Childhood] (2011), a cinematic narrative of the seventies in Argentina. Drawing from animation and comic studies and adopting a formalist approach, the following [...] Read more.
This essay focuses on the animated comics in the representation of violence in Benjamín Ávila’s Infancia clandestina [Clandestine Childhood] (2011), a cinematic narrative of the seventies in Argentina. Drawing from animation and comic studies and adopting a formalist approach, the following analysis proposes ways in which the remediation of comics in the film underscores traumatic aspects of state terror and revolutionary violence and the problematic intergenerational transmission of memory of the 1970s–1980s militancy. Specifically, I comment on how the switch from photographic film to the animated frames draws attention to the blank space between the frames and thereby hints at the traumatic in what is left out, repressed, or silenced. While the gaps resist the forward motion of closure, paradoxically they allow for the suture of the frames/fragments in a postmemorial narrative, although not without a trace of the traumatic. Finally, extending the concept of the gutter as a liminal space, I analyze the connection between the animated scenes representing violence and the testimonial and documentary elements placed in the closing titles, a connection that asserts the autobiographical component of the film and enacts the conflictive character of intergenerational memory. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Children and Trauma: Unexpected Resistance and Justice in Film and Drawings
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010019 - 26 Feb 2018
Abstract
This transnational study examines representations of and by children—whether literal wounds, psychological ones, or wounds transmitted through drawings—that manifest their capacity for unexpected resistance and justice. It considers the Mexican-American director Guillermo del Toro’s use of hauntings and wounds to explore violence during [...] Read more.
This transnational study examines representations of and by children—whether literal wounds, psychological ones, or wounds transmitted through drawings—that manifest their capacity for unexpected resistance and justice. It considers the Mexican-American director Guillermo del Toro’s use of hauntings and wounds to explore violence during the 1936–1939 Spanish Civil War in the film El espinazo del diablo [The Devil’s Backbone] (2001) and its intersections on strategic and theoretical levels with the traumatic in archival children’s drawings produced during the 1976–1983 Argentine military dictatorship. The drawings illustrate the violence perpetrated against the child artists’ families and were produced in exile for the human rights organization COSOFAM. Utilizing diverse theories from film and trauma studies, among others, this article analyzes key scenes in El espinazo exhibiting commonalities with representations of traumatic violence in the children’s drawings, revealing that, in fiction and in fact, a strategic “showing” of the traumatic wound is designed to remind others of the imperative to intervene in situations of extreme violence, to appeal to/for justice, and to effectively testify from the inside. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Post-Dictatorship Documentary in Chile: Conversations with Three Second-Generation Film Directors
Humanities 2018, 7(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010008 - 14 Jan 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
No other medium has rejected the restorative narrative of Chile’s democratic state’s memory discourse as vigorously as documentary cinema. After the several democratic governments that succeeded the civic-military dictatorial alliance that ruled this nation uninterruptedly between 1973 and 1990, documentary films have resisted [...] Read more.
No other medium has rejected the restorative narrative of Chile’s democratic state’s memory discourse as vigorously as documentary cinema. After the several democratic governments that succeeded the civic-military dictatorial alliance that ruled this nation uninterruptedly between 1973 and 1990, documentary films have resisted monumental versions of historical memory by confronting the ambivalent nuances of the traumatic legacy of the dictatorship. Chilean documentarians have investigated, uncovered, and depicted the dictatorial state’s crimes, while offering testimonial space to survivors, and have also interrogated the perspectives of the dictatorship’s supporters, collaborators, and perpetrators while wrestling with an open dialectic of confrontational and reconciliatory gestures. More recently, this interest has intensified and combined with what is often described as a “boom” in second-generation personal-narration memory films. The present article includes the author’s conversations with the directors of three recent Chilean second-generation documentaries that explore the perspectives of former secret service collaborators: Adrian Goycoolea’s ¡Viva Chile Mierda! [Long Live Chile, Damn It!] (2014), Andrés Lübbert’s El color del camaleón [The Color of the Chameleon] (2017), and Lissette Orozco’s El pacto de Adriana [Adriana’s Pact] (2017). Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
In Transit: Sebald, Trauma, and Cinema
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040101 - 18 Dec 2017
Abstract
Because Sebald’s books are preoccupied with historical catastrophe, particularly the Holocaust, critical commentaries have often interpreted them in terms of the transmission of traumatic memory. But this stress on the temporal relay from past to present and future generations has drawn attention away [...] Read more.
Because Sebald’s books are preoccupied with historical catastrophe, particularly the Holocaust, critical commentaries have often interpreted them in terms of the transmission of traumatic memory. But this stress on the temporal relay from past to present and future generations has drawn attention away from the emphasis on space and travel in Sebald’s work. In order to address this gap in Sebald criticism, this essay discusses three films that adapt and respond to Sebald’s work: Patience (After Sebald) (directed by Grant Gee, 2012), Terezin (directed by Daniel Blaufuks, 2010) and Austerlitz (directed by Stan Neumann, 2015). Because of the cinema’s constant movement between images and places, these films allow us to see more clearly the aspects of Sebald’s writings concerned with traveling and making connections between different archival spaces. The journeys in Sebald’s books and in these films inspired by them go beyond human life worlds to include non-human creatures, and beyond the realms of the living to include those inhabited by the dead. This suspension of the boundary between life and death, along with the restless movement from place to place, creates a relationship to memory and history that cannot be limited to the model of traumatic transmission. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Triangulating Trauma: Constellations of Memory, Representation, and Distortion in Elie Wiesel, Wolfgang Borchert, and W.G. Sebald
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040094 - 24 Nov 2017
Cited by 1
Abstract
Even today, trauma theory remains indebted to Sigmund Freud’s notion of belatedness: a traumatic event is not fully experienced at the time of occurrence, due to its suddenness and the lack of preparedness on the part of the human subject. In Traumatic Realism [...] Read more.
Even today, trauma theory remains indebted to Sigmund Freud’s notion of belatedness: a traumatic event is not fully experienced at the time of occurrence, due to its suddenness and the lack of preparedness on the part of the human subject. In Traumatic Realism (2000), Michael Rothberg invokes the Benjaminian notion of the constellation of representation to address the shortcomings of any singular mode of trauma portrayal. Rothberg likens the realist, modernist, and postmodernist literary modes to the points of view of the survivor, the bystander, and the latecomer, respectively. I combine Rothberg’s typology with insights from trauma theory to analyze Elie Wiesel’s Night, Wolfgang Borchert’s The Man Outside, and W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants—three texts that represent Rothberg’s literary modes while at the same time problematizing genre. Dori Laub argues that distorted memory and untold stories are endemic to Holocaust representation. W.G. Sebald inscribes this distortion into his narratives, calling attention to but also repeating its effects. I argue that a perspective beginning with (but not limited to) a combined reading of these three texts yields a more complete understanding of trauma and the Holocaust than can be offered by any singular genre—even archives of documented testimonies, which, despite their necessary role, are unavoidably fraught with a problematics of memory itself. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Between Grief and Grievance: Memories of Jews in France and the Klaus Barbie Trial
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040093 - 21 Nov 2017
Abstract
Working between the Amos Gitai film One Day You’ll Understand (2008) and the 1987 Klaus Barbie trial against which it is set, the article explores how the trial marked a decisive turning point in France’s relationship to its wartime past. Of Barbie’s hundreds [...] Read more.
Working between the Amos Gitai film One Day You’ll Understand (2008) and the 1987 Klaus Barbie trial against which it is set, the article explores how the trial marked a decisive turning point in France’s relationship to its wartime past. Of Barbie’s hundreds of crimes, including murder, torture, rape, and deportation, only those of the gravest nature, 41 separate counts of crimes against humanity, were pursued in the French court in Lyon. Not only did the trial raise crucial juridical questions involving the status of victims and the definition of crimes against humanity but, extending into the private sphere, it became the occasion for citizens to address heretofore silenced aspects of their own family histories and conduct trials of a more personal nature. Whereas the law in general seeks to contain historical trauma and to translate it into legal-conscious terminology, it is often the trauma that takes over, transforming the trial into “another scene” (Freud) in which an unmastered past is unwittingly repeated and unconsciously acted out. Such failures of translation, far from being simply legal shortcomings, open a space between grief and grievance, one through which it is possible to explore both how family secrets are disowned from one generation to the next, and how deeply flawed legal proceedings such as the Barbie trial may “release accumulated social toxins” (Kaplan) and thereby expose unaddressed dimensions of French postwar (and -colonial) history. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
World-Hating: Apocalypse and Trauma in We Need to Talk about Kevin
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040090 - 13 Nov 2017
Abstract
Lynne Ramsay’s 2011 film We Need to Talk about Kevin alternates between two narrative times, one occurring before its protagonist Eva’s son commits a terrible crime, and one after. The film invites us to read the crime as a traumatic event in Eva’s [...] Read more.
Lynne Ramsay’s 2011 film We Need to Talk about Kevin alternates between two narrative times, one occurring before its protagonist Eva’s son commits a terrible crime, and one after. The film invites us to read the crime as a traumatic event in Eva’s life, an event of such terrible force that it transforms Eva’s identity. This essay uses Jacob Taubes’s understanding of Gnosticism to suggest that this event does not transform who Eva is, but rather how she knows. Like a Gnostic believer, Eva comes to understanding the fundamental ontological evil of community life. Eva’s ‘trauma,’ her alienation from the world she occupies, predates Kevin’s crime, but the aftermath of that crime reveals her alienation to her. The worldview thus presented by the film casts some light on how art house films are marketed. Like many middlebrow products, art house films present marketers with the challenge of concealing the fact that the commodity they are selling is indeed a commodity. This ambivalent distrust of the marketplace is a softened repetition of the Gnostic’s anticosmism, and We Need to Talk About Kevin both performs and thematizes a displacement from the world that is primary, not contingent upon any traumatic event. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Trauma, Postmemory, and Empathy: The Migrant Crisis and the German Past in Jenny Erpenbeck’s Gehen, ging, gegangen [Go, Went, Gone]
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040088 - 11 Nov 2017
Cited by 3
Abstract
The novel Gehen, ging, gegangen [Go, Went, Gone] by the celebrated German writer Jenny Erpenbeck was published at the height of the European refugee crisis. The novel tells the tale of Richard, a retired Berlin classics professor, who becomes intrigued by [...] Read more.
The novel Gehen, ging, gegangen [Go, Went, Gone] by the celebrated German writer Jenny Erpenbeck was published at the height of the European refugee crisis. The novel tells the tale of Richard, a retired Berlin classics professor, who becomes intrigued by the Oranienplatz refugee protest camp. He initially approaches the refugee crisis as a new research project, methodically searching for secondary literature, composing questionnaires and conducting interviews with asylum seekers, but eventually he begins to develop friendships with some of them. Throughout the novel, Richard, who fled from the approaching Red Army with his mother as a baby and then lived in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) until reunification, notices similarities between the traumatic experiences of the Oranienplatz protesters and the trauma in his personal history, German collective history, and ancient and medieval literature. This article focuses on trauma and empathy in Gehen, ging, gegangen, exploring how the parallels drawn between the varied fates of the asylum seekers and the stories of exile and displacement in the literary canon, and German historical experiences of displacement and loss of home, establish points of empathic connection between Richard and the refugees, and attempt to establish the same between the reader and the refugees. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
One Voice Too Many: Echoes of Irony and Trauma in Oedipus the King
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040086 - 09 Nov 2017
Abstract
Sophocles’ Oedipus the King has often inspired concurrent interpretations examining the tragic irony of the play and the traumatic neurosis of its protagonist. The Theban king epitomizes a man who knows everything but himself, and Sophocles’ use of irony allows Oedipus to discover [...] Read more.
Sophocles’ Oedipus the King has often inspired concurrent interpretations examining the tragic irony of the play and the traumatic neurosis of its protagonist. The Theban king epitomizes a man who knows everything but himself, and Sophocles’ use of irony allows Oedipus to discover the truth in a manner that Freud viewed in The Interpretation of Dreams as “comparable to the work of a psychoanalysis.” Psychoanalytical readings of Oedipus at times depend greatly on his role as a doubled figure, but this article specifically investigates his doubled voice in order to demonstrate the interrelated, chiasmic relationship between Oedipus’ trauma and the trope of irony. It argues, in fact, that irony serves as the language, so to speak, of the traumatic experiences haunting the king and his city, but it also posits that this doubled voice compounds the irony of the play and its hero. In other words, in addition to the Sophoclean irony that dominates the work, the doubling of the king’s voice reveals a modified form of Socratic irony that contributes to the tragedy’s power. Consequently, even after the king’s recognition of the truth ultimately resolves the work’s tragic irony, Oedipus remains divided by a state of simultaneous knowledge and ignorance. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Let Seizing Truths Lie: Witnessing “Factions” in Lauren Slater’s Lying
Humanities 2017, 6(4), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040080 - 31 Oct 2017
Abstract
In her memoir, Lying (2000), Lauren Slater fabricates most of her life narrative. Her text frustrates those who resent the combined fact and fiction—or “faction”—that she spins. This readerly response is understandable. Nevertheless, this article maintains that Slater lies in her memoir not [...] Read more.
In her memoir, Lying (2000), Lauren Slater fabricates most of her life narrative. Her text frustrates those who resent the combined fact and fiction—or “faction”—that she spins. This readerly response is understandable. Nevertheless, this article maintains that Slater lies in her memoir not to mislead readers but to witness traumas she struggles to access and articulate. Trauma and autobiographical theorists document the necessity of writing through—or “witnessing”—trauma to overcome it. When, however, a narrator is inhibited by what psychiatrists call “psychic constriction” (memory loss due to an inability to reconcile oneself with a painful past), she can become powerless to take the steps necessary to recover, as she cannot convey fully what she has suffered. Such is the case for Slater, who lies to witness ineffable traumas alongside her very inability to witness them. Lying also opens an important question about the reader’s role in traumatic witnessing: how does one respond to the traumatic testimony of an unreliable narrator? In answer, inasmuch as one may resist Slater’s memoir, one also has the ability to enter into and engage in her experience. In presenting this opportunity, Lying offers the writer-narrator and reader-respondent alike, a way to witness trauma together. Full article

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Open AccessErratum
Erratum: Transferential Memory Spaces in Gisela Heidenreich’s Das endlose Jahr. Humanities 2018, 7, 26
Humanities 2018, 7(2), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7020038 - 19 Apr 2018
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