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Syllabus Trauma Narratives

Dr. des. Christina Meyer
Trauma Narratives
3.02.273 AM2b, AM10/11
SWS 2, Di 14-16h, Room: A10 1-121 (Hörsaal F)
Office hours: Wednesday 3:00-4:00pm
Room: A6 2-212b
Fon: 0441-798-4570
MAILTO: christina.meyer@uni-oldenburg.de
Course Outline
This course aims to deepen our understanding of psychological traumas. We will reflect on issues such
as the impact of traumatizing encounters (on individuals and on entire cultures and nations), survivorguilt, long-term effects, and coping strategies.
In the course we will address the following areas of concern: trauma and memory; trauma and (the
politics of) loss; war and trauma; trauma and sexual abuse; trauma and 9-11; trauma and the Holocaust.
We will deal with representations of trauma in literature, art, and film and tackle the “crisis” of
representation. We will read exemplary (filmic and print literary) texts (fiction and non-fiction) and place
the respective works in their historical and cultural contexts, while also surveying the works’ narrative
Likely authors include: Charlotte Delbo, George Perec, Anna Langfus, Tim O’Brien, Larry Heinemann,
Toni Morrison, Art Spiegelman. Further readings (excerpts): Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Cathy
Caruth, Kalí Tal, Judith Klein, Lawrence Langer, Dominick LaCapra, and more.
Please purchase Art Spiegelman’s, The Complete Maus (Penguin, 2003, approx. 20 Euro), Larry
Heinemann’s Paco’s Story (Vintage, approx. 9 Euro)
Prerequisites for 3KP (general):
regular attendance,
active participation,
group work,
in-class oral presentation (approx. 15 minutes)
Prerequisites for 6KP:
all of the above,
final term paper (10-12 pages, approx. 5000 words)
Starting on: October 14, 2008
in class: English
Limited Enrollment: 25 students
For further information: christina.meyer@uni-oldenburg.de
The DEADLINE to submit the TERM PAPER is March 1, 2009.
Part I: Intro
Oct. 14, 2008
Oct. 21, 2008
Defining Psychological Trauma
Texts: 1) Cathy Caruth, “Introduction”; 2) Dori Laub “Bearing Witness”
Part II: Limits of Representation? Trauma and the Holocaust
Oct. 28, 2008
Voicing the Unspeakable
Text: Kalí Tal, “Reading the Literatures of Trauma” (1-22)
Nov. 04, 2008
Reflections on Filmic Narratives about the Holocaust
Group Work: Texts: 1) James Edward Young, “Narrative and the Consequences
of Interpretation” (1-11); 2) Elie Wiesel, “Art and Culture after the Holocaust”
ATTENTION: Kalí Tal is going to give a talk on November 4, 2008 at 6pm!
Nov. 11, 2008
Film and the Holoaust: A Traumatic Paradox?
Text: Dominick LaCapra, “Lanzmann’s Shoah”
Presentation: “The Holocaust and Cinema: Shoah, A Case Study”
Nov. 18, 2008
Holocaust and the Medium Comic?
Text: Art Spiegelman, Maus
Nov. 25, 2008
Art Spiegelman, Maus , cont’d
Text: Michael E. Staub, “The Shoah Goes On and On”
Dec. 02, 2008
Art Spiegelman, Maus cont’d
Presentation: “History as Comic – Comic as History?”
Part III: Fictionalizing War Traumas
Dec. 09, 2008
The Vietnam War
Text: Larry Heinemann, Paco’s Story
Presentation: “From Shell Shock to PTSD”
Dec. 16, 2008
Larry Heinemann Paco’s Story, cont’d
Jan. 06, 2009
Larry Heinemann, Paco’s Story, recapitulating
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried (excerpts)
Presentation: “Veteran-Writer Tim O’Brien: Story-Truth and Happening-Truth”
Jan. 13, 2009
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried (excerpts) cont’d
Part IV: Trauma and 9/11
Jan. 20, 2009
Comic Artists Respond to 9-11
Texts: Will Eisner, 1) “The Real Thing”; 2) “Reality 9/11” (mandatory)
Presentation: “Approaches to 9/11: TriBeCa Sunset and The 9/11 Report – A Graphic
Jan. 27, 2009
Framing Trauma
Text: Art Spiegelman, In the Shadow of No Towers (excerpts)
Reading requirements:
Caruth, Cathy, ed. Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1995.
Eisner, Will. “The Real Thing.” 9-11: The World’s Finest Comic Book Writers and Artists Tell Stories to
Remember. New York: DC Comics, 2002. 17-18.
---. “Reality 9/11” 9-11: Emergency Relief. Ed. Jeff Mason. New York: Alternative Comics, 2002. 45.
Heinemann, Larry. Paco’s Story. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1986. (or a new edition)
Laub, Dori. “Bearing Witness or the Vicissitudes of Listening.” Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in
Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History. Eds. Felman, Shoshana, and Dori Laub. New York:
Routledge, 1992. 57-74.
LaCapra, Dominick. “Lanzmann’s Shoah: Here There Is No Why.” Critical Inquiry 23.3 (Winter, 1997):
O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. London: Flamingo, 1990. (excerpts)
Spiegelman, Art. The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. London, New York et al.: Penguin, 2003.
---. In the Shadow of No Towers. New York: Pantheon, 2004.
Staub, Michael E. “The Shoah Goes On and On: Remembrance and Representation in Art Spiegelman’s
Maus.” MELUS 20.3 (Autumn, 1995): 33-46.
Tal, Kalí. Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma. Cambridge, England & New York:
Cambridge UP, 1996. (excerpts)
Reading suggestions (for your term paper):
Aberbach, David. Surviving Trauma: Loss, Literature and Psychoanalysis. New Haven & London: Yale
UP, 1989
American Psychiatric Association. DSM-III-R: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 3rd
rev. Ed. (DSM-III-R) Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association Press, 1987
Assmann, Aleida. Erinnerungsräume: Formen und Wandlungen des kulturellen Gedächtnisses. München:
C.H. Beck, 1999
Baer, Ulrich. Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma. Cambridge, MA & London, England: MIT
Press, 2002.
Bao Ninh. The Sorrow of War. Trans. Phan Thanh Hao. Ed. Frank Palmos. New York: Riverhead Books,
Belau, Linda M., and Petar Ramadanovic, eds. Topologies of Trauma: Essays on the Limit of Knowledge
and Memory. New York: Other Press, 2002
Bennett, Jill. Empathic Vision: Affect, Trauma, and Contemporary Art. Cultural Memory in the Present.
Ed. Mieke Bal and Hent de Vries. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2005.
Berger, James. After the End: Representations of Post-Apocalypse. Minneapolis & London: U of
Minnesota P, 1999.
Bettelheim, Bruno. The Informed Heart: Autonomy in a Mass Age. Glencoe, Ill: Free Press, 1960.
Bibby, Michael, ed. The Vietnam War and Postmodernity. Amherst, MA: UMass P, 2000. (excerpts)
Blanchot, Maurice. The Writing of Disaster. 1986. Trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1995.
Bordwell, David, and Kristin Thompson. Film Art. An Introduction. 6th ed. New York: Graw-Hill, 2001.
Caruth, Cathy, ed. Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1995.
---. Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History. Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins UP,
Culbertson, Roberta. “Embodied Memory, Transcendence, and Telling: Recounting Trauma, ReEstablishing the Self.” New Literary History 26.1 (1995): 169-95
Des Pres, Terrence. The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps. New York: Oxford UP, 1976.
Elmwood, Victoria A. “‘Happy, Happy Every After’: The Transformation of Trauma Between the
Generations in Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale.” Biography 27.4 (Fall 2004): 691-720
Eng, David L.. “The Value of Silence.” Theatre Journal 54 (2002): 85-94.
Farrell, Kirby. Post-Traumatic Culture: Injury and Interpretation in the Nineties. Baltimore: The Johns
Hopkins UP, 1998.
Fleischner, Eva, ed. Auschwitz: Beginning of a New Era? Reflections on the Holocaust. New York: KTAV
Publishing House, 1974.
Foster, Hal. The Return of the Real: The Avant Garde at the End of the Century. Cambridge, MA: MIT
Press, 1996.
Freud, Sigmund. Vorlesungen zur Einführung in die Psychoanalyse. Frankfurt/M.: Fischer TB, 1991.
Friedlander, Saul. Reflections of Nazism: An Essay on Kitsch and Death. Trans. Thomas Weyr.
Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1993.
Greenberg, Judith. “The Echo of Trauma and the Trauma of Echo.” American Imago 55.3 (1998): 319-47.
---, ed. Trauma at Home After 9/11. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2003.
Gordon, Ian. “From Caricature to Comic Strips: The Shaping of Comic Art as Commodity.” Comic Strips
and Consumer Culture, 1890-1945. Ian Gordon. Washington & London: Smithsonian Institution P,
Hartman, Geoffrey H. “On Traumatic Knowledge and Literary Studies.” New Literary History 26 (1995):
Haugen, David M., ed. Comic Books: Examining Pop Culture. Detroit, New York et al.: Thomson Gale,
Hebel, Udo J., ed. Sites of Memory in American Literatures and Cultures. Heidelberg: C. Winter, 2003.
Heller, Dana, ed. The Selling of 9/11: How a National Tragedy Became a Commodity. New York et al.:
Palgrave MacMillan, 2005.
Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. 1955. New York: Dell, 1994.
Herman, Judith Lewis. Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic Books, 1992.
Hixson, Walter L., ed. The United States and the Vietnam War. 6 vols. New York & London: Garland
Publishing, Inc, 2000.
Hölbling, Walter. Fiktionen vom Krieg im neueren amerikanischen Roman. Tübinger Beiträge zur Anglistik
10. Tübingen: G. Narr, 1987.
Irsliger, Ingo and Christoph Jürgensen, ed. Nine Eleven. Ästhetische Verarbeitungen des 11. September
2001. Beiträge zur neueren Literaturgeschichte 255. Heidelberg: C. Winter, 2008
Jeffords, Susan. The Remasculinization of America: Gender and the Vietnam War. Bloomington: Indiana
UP, 1989.
Kahane, Claire. “Uncanny Sights: The Anticipation of the Abomination.” Trauma at Home After 9/11. Ed.
Judith Greenberg. Lincoln & London: U of Nebraska P, 2003.
Kaplan, E. Ann. “A Camera and a Catastrophe: Reflections on Trauma and the Twin Towers.” Greenberg
Klein, Judith. Literatur und Genozid: Darstellungen der nationalsozialistischen Massenvernichtung in der
französischen Literatur. Literatur in der Geschichte-Geschichte in der Literatur 24. Ed. Klaus Amann
and Friedbert Aspetsberger. Wien et al.: Böhlau, 1992.
Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. 1981. Book XI. “The Four Fundamental Concepts of
Psychoanalysis.” Trans. Alan Sheridan. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. New York & London: W.W. Norton &
Company, 1998.
LaCapra, Dominick. Representing the Holocaust: History, Theory, Trauma. Ithaca & London: Cornell UP,
---. History and Memory After Auschwitz. Ithaca & London: Cornell UP, 1998.
---. Writing History, Writing Trauma. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 2001.
Langer, Lawrence. Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1991.
Laub, Dori. “September 11, 2001—An Event without a Voice.” Trauma at Home After 9/11. Ed. Judith
Greenberg. Lincoln & London: U of Nebraska P, 2003. 204-215.
Leach, Neil. “9/11.” Diacritics 33.3-4 (Fall/Winter, 2003): 75-92.
Leys, Ruth. Trauma: A Genealogy. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2000.
Lifton, Robert Jay. Home from the War: Vietnam Veterans: Neither Victims nor Executioners. New York:
Simon & Schuster, 1973.
---. The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. New York: Basic Books, 1986.
Krog, Antjie. Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa.
New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999.
Martin, Richard. “Art Spiegelman’s Maus, or ‘The Way it Really Happened.’” Historiographic Metafiction in
Modern American and Canadian Literature. Eds. Bernd Engler and Kurt Müller. Paderborn:
Schöningh, 1994. 373-382
Mitchell, Juliet. “Trauma, Recognition, and the Place of Language.” Diacritics 28.4 (1998): 121-33.
Mitscherlich, Alexander and Margarete. The Inability to Mourn: Principles of Collective Behavior. Pref.
Robert Jay Lifton. Trans. Beverly R. Placzek. New York: Grove Press, 1975.
Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Knopf, 1987.
Mowitt, John. “Trauma Envy.” Cultural Critique 46 (Fall 2000): 272-297.
O’Brien, Tim. In the Lake of the Woods. 1994. New York et al.: Penguin, 1995.
Orvell, Miles. “Writing Posthistorically: Krazy Kat, Maus, and the Contemporary Fiction Cartoon.”
American Literary History 4.1 (Spring, 1992): 110-128.
Paul, Gavin J. “Ashes in the Gutter: 9/11 and the Serialization of Memory in DC Comics’ Human Target.”
American Periodicals 17.2 (2007): 208-227
Rowe, John Carlos, and Rick Berg, eds. The Vietnam War and American Culture. New York: Columbia
UP, 1991. (esp.: “Eyewitness: Documentary Styles in the American Representations of Vietnam,” pp.
Scarry, Elaine. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. New York & Oxford et al.:
Oxford UP, 1985.
Schacter, Daniel L. Searching for Memory: The Brain, the Mind, and the Past. New York: BasicBooks,
Seltzer, Mark. “Wound Culture: Trauma in the Pathological Public Sphere.” October 80 (Spring 1997): 326.
Shatan, Chaim F. “Post-Vietnam Syndrome.” The New York Times 6 May 1972: 35.
---. “The Grief of Soldiers: Vietnam Combat Veterans’ Self-Help Movement.” American Journal of
Orthopsychiatry 43.4 (July 1973): 640-653.
Shay, Jonathan, Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character. New York et al.:
Simon & Schuster, 1994.
---. Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming. New York: Scribner, 2002.
Slocum, David J., ed. Hollywood and War: The Film Reader. New York et al.: Routledge, 2006.
Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others. New York: Picador, 2003.
Sturken, Marita Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground
Zero. Durham et al.: Duke UP, 2007.
Tatum, James. The Mourner’s Song: War and Remembrance from the Iliad to Vietnam. Chicago et al.: U
of Chicago P, 2003.
van der Kolk, Bessel A. and Onno van der Hart. “The Intrusive Past: The Flexibility of Memory and the
Engraving of Trauma.” American Imago 48.4 (Winter 1991): 425-454.
Vernon, Alex. Soldiers Once and Still: Ernest Hemingway, James Salter, and Tim O’Brien. Iowa City: U of
Iowa P, 2004.
Vickroy, Laurie. Trauma and Survival in Contemporary Fiction. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 2002.
Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The Winter Soldier Investigation: An Inquiry into American War
Crimes. Boston: Beacon, 1972.
Virilio, Paul. War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception. 6th ed. Trans. Patrick Camiller. London & New
York: Verson, 2000.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death. 1969. New
York: Dell, 1991.
White, Hayden. “The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality.” Critical Inquiry 7.1 (Autumn
1980): 5-27.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. The Night Trilogy. Trans. Stella Rodway. 1960; New York: Noonday Press, 1985.
Witek, Joseph, ed. Art Spiegelman Conversations. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2007
Yates, Frances. The Art of Memory. 1966. Chicago: U of Chicago P; London: Routledge, 1974.
Young, James Edward. Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequences of
Interpretation. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1988.
---. “The Holocaust as Vicarious Past: Art Spiegelman’s Maus and the Afterimages of History.” Critical
Inquiry 24 (Spring 1998): 666-699.
Zelizer, Barbie, ed. Visual Culture and the Holocaust. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 2000.
Žižek, Slavoj. “Passions of the Real, Passions of Semblance.” Welcome to the Desert of the Real.
London & New York: Verso, 2002. 5-32.
Texts are available at “Wersig” (copy shop, Ammerländer Heerstr. 108). Reading suggestions and
additional texts (for oral presentations) will be made available in the course reader on the reserve shelf in
the library. Further texts will be distributed in class, and/or will be made available in the library.
List of oral presentations:
The following is the list of topics for an oral presentation in class. Your talk should not exceed 15 minutes
(approx. 20 minutes for 2 speakers). Prepare a one-page computer-typed handout for your fellow
students. Please, come and see me in advance, and send a first draft of your handout 2 days prior to your
presentation (the latest!!!!!).
The time slots are limited; since the presentation is mandatory as partial fulfillment of the requirements for
the certificate (3KP/6KP), there is going to be an alternative “Studienleistung”: a written assignment
(distributed in class by December 16, 2008).
Nov. 11, 2008
Dec. 02, 2008
Dec. 09, 2008
Jan. 06, 2009
Jan. 20, 2009
“The Holocaust and Cinema: Shoah, A Case Study”
“History as Comic – Comic as History?”
“From Shell Shock to PTSD”
“Veteran-Writer Tim O’Brien: Story-Truth and Happening-Truth”
“Approaches to 9/11: TriBeCa Sunset and The 9/11 Report – A Graphic
Term paper suggestions:
The following list is a compilation of topics that should provide you with ideas/material for your term
paper. However, you are encouraged to come up with a topic other than listed below. Before you start
writing hand in an abstract/outline of the topic you’re interested in.
The final term paper should not exceed 10-12 pages (1½ spaced; 12pt Times New Roman; margins: 3cm
on the left, 3cm on the right).
Do not forget: the term paper is due on March 1, 2009.
Vietnam War Novels as Trauma Narratives?
Representations of Trauma in Paco’s Story
Writing About Trauma in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried
Echoes from the Past: Analyzing Bao Ninh’s The Sorrow of War
Trauma Images in Literature
Analyzing Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five
Analyzing Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night
Trauma and Art – Anselm Kiefer, A Case Study
Responses to the Holocaust in Art
Jewish-American Diaspora
Poetry of Trauma?
Autobiography and Trauma
Trauma in Recent Hollywood Movies: Fearless, A Case Study
Analyzing Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound
Filming Trauma: Citizen Kane, A Case Study
Representations of Trauma in Contemporary American Fiction
Memory and Trauma in Memento
Toni Morrison’s Beloved: Denial of Trauma?
History as Comic – Comic as History?
Representations of 9-11 in Comics
Dragonslippers: Domestic Violence and Comics
How to Read Stories of Rape
Analyzing Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah
Post-9/11 American Television Landscape
Wound Culture(s) – Trauma as Spectacle?
Acting Out: American Talk Shows as Psychoanalytic Setting?
Trauma and Popular Culture: The Simpson, A Case Study
Trauma and Popular Culture: Batman, A Case Study
Transgenerational Trauma? Second Generation Authors of Holocaust Survivors
Sites of Memory – Sites of Melodramatic Catharsis?
Pearl Harbor – An American Wound?
Filmic Responses to the Vietnam War: The Deer Hunter, A Case Study
Postcolonial Trauma?
Fictionalizing Trauma in Recent American Fiction
Analyzing 110 Stories
Photographies of Trauma? Here is New York, A Case Study
Holocaust Drama(s)
Trauma on Stage