Call for Papers:
Note: Paper submissions are now closed. We are delighted to have received almost one hundred paper submissions, from as far away as Canada, Scotland, and Norway, and from all over the US, showing an exciting array of scholarly work and creative thought across disciplinary boundaries! Paper acceptances will be arriving by email shortly.
While trauma and narrative are older than human history, understandings of trauma have recently grown in complexity. Trauma Studies as a field has ignited widespread interest. Literary and cultural studies examine how narratives of trauma express ethnic and national identities, social conflict, and political oppression. Narratives that testify to trauma may offer a healing or organizing response to pain, but may also inflict traumatic and disorganizing effects for both individuals and political communities. Psychoanalysis examines the registration of traumatic experience in the mind and body as subject to processes of repression, dissociation, and foreclosure. It also examines the fate of these processes in producing specific symptoms and effects on personality. In recent decades, in treatment of traumatized persons, the co-construction of healing narratives has come to the fore as a key to recovery from trauma. Neuroscience is mapping the neuronal links of the traumatized brain and examining how distorted mind/brain interactions influence development and behavior after traumatic experience. Attachment researchers study the effects of trauma and neglect on the growing mind and relationships of children and adults. Their particular analysis of narrative in the Adult Attachment Interview has proven to be predictive of the interpersonal capacities even of as yet unborn offspring.
Thus, researchers in many fields argue that trauma inscribes demonstrable functional changes in the brain and induces, as well, functional changes in the cultural fields responding to traumatic events. Normally these fields do not exchange information across disciplinary boundaries -- changes are observed and defined differently in particular fields. This conference invites scholars and clinicians to share new research and explore different perspectives on trauma across clinical and departmental boundaries. Our goal is to encourage a more nuanced and global understanding of trauma and its effects.
The Departments of Psychiatry, Human Science, and English at The George Washington University, in association with the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis, will host a set of speakers examining trauma as it is understood in neuroscience, psychoanalysis, and the humanities. Particular attention will be given to papers that examine intersections among cultural, literary, psychoanalytic, and neuroscientific understandings of trauma narratives. Moderators experienced in facilitating group discussion across disciplines will chair panels and encourage cross-disciplinary discussion.
Questions To Be Considered by Presenters
The following questions -- and any related questions of interest -- furnish a guide to the content of the conference and may be considered by those submitting papers and panel proposals. They will also be addressed by invited keynote speakers and panel members.
Literature and History
In what ways does narrative represent and/or enact trauma, and what are the cultural consequences?
How does traumatic experience structure social relations and contribute to or challenge an imagined community?
What are the ethical issues involved in defining trauma, and in criticizing, interpreting, and thinking about trauma in literature?
In what way is trauma related to the recovery, the repression, or the foreclosure of history?
How are accounts of trauma related to recognition and marginalization in democratic discourse?
How is trauma rhetoric?
What does brain research show about the effects of trauma on the brain?
How do recent findings in neuroscience affect existing assumptions about the traumatized mind?
What is the significance and meaning of recent findings that brains show changes as a result of the creation of narratives?
How can neuroscience and psychoanalysis converse more effectively with each other?
How do various psychoanalytic views of splitting, dissociation, and repression affect the understanding of the effects of trauma?
After a century of psychological treatment of traumatic states, what do we now know about the following: transference and countertransference, the unconscious, body language, mirror neurons, and attachment patterns?
What are the crucial features of narrative co-construction in the therapeutic effect of psychoanalytic therapy?
In trauma studies in various fields, how do psychoanalytic theory and therapy intersect?
How does a person’s evoking of profoundly frightening events (liminality) affect the treatment process?
How might the characteristics of narrative as described in attachment theory inform our study of trauma?
What is the relationship between “extreme trauma” and “developmental trauma?”
Paper and Panel Submissions
We invite papers that examine intersections among these disciplines as well as papers that present findings from a particular discipline in language understandable to those in others. Submissions may be in the form of either individual papers, which we will group into three-person panels (with each paper presentation to last a maximum of twenty minutes), or proposals from a three-person panel of presenters who would like to coordinate their submission. Abstracts submitted by December 1, 2009, will be acknowledged, and final decisions regarding acceptance will be made by January 20, 2010. Send a 250-word abstract to Natalie Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org. (In case of technical difficulties in submitting abstracts, Natalie may be reached at 202-994-6320.)