Call for Paper for a panel on premodern trauma at 42 Annual International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, Michigan. If you are interested in participating in the panel (see description below) please send a short abstract via email to Donna Trembinski at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The Traumatic Century?: ‘Working Through’ Plague, War and Famine in the Fourteenth Century
Noted literary critic and theorist of trauma Cathy Caruth has called our present era, which has seen the advent of world wars, industrialized genocide and nuclear destruction, the ‘traumatic century’. Yet earlier ages have also experienced possibly traumatic events—events that changed a culture’s perceived relationship between itself and the world, itself and God. Using the fourteenth century as a case study, this series of papers will explore the ways in which theories of individual and cultural trauma can illuminate our understanding of how medieval people and their societies experienced and worked through trauma to narrativize events that ruptured their perceptions of reality and ultimately forced them to re-inscribe their identities.
The papers in this session will be amongst the first to explore the potential usefulness of theories of individual and cultural trauma in premodern societies. Using the calamitous fourteenth century as a test case, participants will investigate whether the concept of trauma can further our understanding of societal responses to plague, war and famine beyond traditional scholarly narratives of loss, shock and horror. Ideally the papers will evolve into a dialogue between medieval sources and modern theory, informing our understanding of the past while refining the theoretical approach.
Watson Hall, Rm 106
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