EVENT Mar 10
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Representations of Disability and Trauma in German Writings (NeMLA)

Baltimore, MD
Event: NeMLA
Categories: German
Event Date: 2022-03-10 to 2022-03-13 Abstract Due: 2021-09-30

The fields of trauma studies and disability studies each have developed valuable approaches for reading the challenges of particular bodily conditions and their expression, while continually problematizing their respective links to societal, medical and cultural contexts. And yet, for as much as they have in common – including their interdisciplinary underpinnings – trauma studies and disability studies have only recently come into conversation. While identifying the “political as well as theoretical dimensions” of their differences, James Berger, for one, celebrates the early efforts to establish “genuine relations between the two disciplines” (2015). Berger, along with a handful of scholars including Tobin Siebers, Rachel Adams, Valarie Raoul and Alison Kafer have contributed fruitful analyses, each locating his/her work at the crossroads of these two fields. The objects of such analyses have ranged from literary and cultural objects (including life narrative) to social and legal practices.


German Studies, most notably in the context of Holocaust-related studies, has a tradition of close engagement with concepts of trauma. Although relatively more recently, German Studies also has brought discourses of disability into its purview. This panel invites submissions that investigate the kinship between representations of disability and trauma, with a particular focus on German-related texts (including film, literature, memoir, as well as theory). Submissions may either focus on the ways a given text itself explores such a kinship or bring a number of texts into conversation to explore it.


Possible issues include, but are not limited to the following:

-- narratives that suggest causal relationships between the experiences of disability and trauma

-- disability tropes deployed within narratives of trauma (and vis-a-versa)

-- particular usages of shared vocabulary – including terms such as stigma, dependency, tragedy, mourning, wound, healing, and recovery

--shared limitations or failures of language in voicing experience

-- representations of individual experience in society, in terms of marginalization, normalcy, and disruption.

-- representations of sensory, corporeal, or cognitive experiences associated with disability and trauma

---the role of memory, including as breach between past and present

--aesthetics of portraying the traumatized vs. the disabled body



Michele Ricci Bell