Mapping Generations of Traumatic Memory in American City Narratives (workshop organized within the 2012 RAAS-Fulbright Conference Remapping Urban Spaces – American Challenges, 4-6 October 2012, “Ovidius” University of Constanta)
This panel welcomes papers that explore the connection between the performance of post-traumatic memory and urban space in the United States. Identifying the mechanisms of traumatic memory for various generations of trauma survivors has been an increasing focus of scholarship and public attention in recent decades, in the works of important scholars such as Mieke Bal, Shoshana Felman, Dominick La Capra, Marianne Hirsch, Leo Spitzer, Nancy K. Miller, Michael Rothberg, Cathy Caruth, and others. Marianne Hirsch’s concept of “postmemory” (1997) as a type of memory transmitted from generation to generation through family ties, responsibilities and storytelling, as well as Peggy Phelan's “performative memory” (1997), Dora Apel’s “secondary witnessing” (2002), Alison Landsberg’s “prosthetic memory” (2004) and Michael Rothberg’s “multidirectional memory” (2009)are all essential to current scholarly examinations of generations of (post)traumatic memory and their manifestation in a public space which is often that of the city. In the US, this research topic has regained momentum especially after the events of September 11. The area is rapidly growing, especially because mapping generations of traumatic memory lends itself to an extremely productive interdisciplinary framework, from psychology to literary, visual, ethnic and gender studies.
The connection between memory and the city has been most famously explored by Pierre Nora’s monumental collection Lieux de mémoire/Sites of Memory (1984, 1989), where he diagnosed the death of “authentic memory” and its replacement in the urban space with sites such as memorials, museums, and other visual representations that, together with various commemoration practices, regulate national life frames (cf. Butler). More recently, Andreas Huyssen’s Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (Stanford, 2003) emphasized the high stakes of urban spaces and media as material palimpsests offering “traces of the historical past in the present.” More specifically related to the American urban space, Marita Sturken’s Tourists of History (2007) demonstrated the embeddedness of trauma in particular American urban spaces, such as Oklahoma City and Ground Zero.
Our panel is part of this particular conversation as it attempts to explore the innovative insights American Studies scholars can gain from analyzing particular features of cross-generational traumatic memories that inscribe themselves in urban spaces, past and present.
We particularly welcome proposals addressing one of the following topics (applied to literature, film, popular culture, visual culture, media etc.):
- urban spaces and the poetics/politics of memory
- personal/historical traumas of the city
- U.S. cities/city narratives as sites of traumatic memory / comparative perspectives on U.S. and Eastern European cities/city narratives as sites of traumatic memory
- utopian/dystopian cities and trauma
- gendered traumas and city life
- violence, genocide, and traumatic transmission in the city
- city memorials/museums constructed as sites of mourning
- commemoration practices related to post-war/post-traumatic events
- cross-generational configurations of trauma and city life
- celebrity deaths and urban shrines
- violence and public mourning (as in public riots etc.)
- autobiography, trauma, and the city
- visual and verbal accounts of trauma and the city
- contested spaces of memory and trauma in the city
- the post-human and post-traumatic in fantastic urban spaces or cities of the future (SciFi, fantasy)
Dr. Roxana Oltean (University of Bucharest)
Prof. Rodica Mihaila (University of Bucharest)
Dr. Mihaela Precup (University of Bucharest)
Dr. Dana Mihailescu (University of Bucharest)
Please send you proposals, including the title of your presentation, your affiliation, an abstract of 150-200 words, and a bio of 100-150 words, to the following email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
As each paper will be followed by 10-minute discussions, participants are kindly asked to limit the presentation to their time-slot. More information about the 2012 RAAS-Fulbright Conference Remapping Urban Spaces – American Challenges, 4-6 October 2012, “Ovidius” University of Constanta, can be found here: http://raas.ro/conferences
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