This course is concerned with the cultural politics of memory and trauma. Whose memories are sought, believed and commemorated in the public sphere? What problems do traumatic events present for those attempting to commemorate or represent them? Is trauma a useful cross-cultural concept? We will begin by tracing the history of the concept of trauma in psychoanalysis, medicine and popular culture. Next, students will be introduced to theories of memory and trauma drawn from cultural studies, anthropology, history, psychoanalysis, and feminist theory. We will study the cultural politics of trauma and memory in relation to two events - the Holocaust and the Stolen Generations. In particular, we will consider the relationship between trauma, history and mourning, the role of public memorials, and the problem of "forgetting". Texts for study will include autobiographies, films, novels, poetry, testimonials, media texts and political essays.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
Learning outcomes are identified for each of the assessments set below. In addition, the general learning outcomes for the course are:
- Understand the concepts of ‘trauma’ and ‘memory’ as they are used in the media, in contemporary culture, and in Humanities and Social Science scholarship today. Why have these concepts become so prevalent in contemporary culture?
- Become familiar with a variety of approaches to analysing ‘trauma’ and ‘memory’
- Become familiar with some of the key debates relating to representations and cultural memory of the Holocaust and Stolen Generations
- Be able to use different approaches to the concepts of trauma and memory to analyse film, literature, testimony and other texts representing the Holocaust and Stolen Generations.
3,000-4,000 words of written work, and tutorial participation.
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Offered in alternate years
20 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorial, plus film screenings
Requisite and Incompatibility
Antze, Paul, and Michael Lambek, eds, Tense Past: Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory, New York: Routledge, 1996
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- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
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