Languages of Trauma – Body/Psyche, Historiography, Psycho-Traumatology, Visual Media

Jason Crouthamel's picture
November 25, 2016 to November 26, 2016
Subject Fields: 
European History / Studies, Film and Film History, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Psychology, Modern European History / Studies

This international, interdisciplinary conference explores the diversity of languages of psychological trauma in comparative cross-national perspectives and in varying socio-cultural contexts. Besides variations in the medical, socio-historical and political conceptualization of individual and/or collective traumas, it will analyze medial-representations, artistic reflections as well as more subjective forms of traumatic experiences and perceptions of the traumatized, including men, women and children—both as victims of mental/emotional damage and as perpetrators of violence.

Moving trauma research towards new sites of inquiry and innovative methodologies, Languages of Trauma concentrates specifically on dynamics and interconnections between language and trauma in audio-visual media, visual culture, national historiographies, medical and political discourse, literary narratives, and the fine arts. Within this broad subject area, the conference speakers will focus on questions of disciplinary terminology, as well as medical aetiology, diagnosis and treatment, and we will ask how different cultures and interest groups – medical professionals, traumatized individuals and communities, patients, families, politicians, artists and academic scholars – shaped distinct notions and conceptions of “trauma.” How do historically shifting and at times competing understandings of trauma alter and transform forms of trauma languages? Particular attention will be given to the question of how “trauma” is displayed in film corpora from various periods of the 20th and 21st centuries (in medical and feature films as well as in documentaries), and their connection to memory politics, national identity constructions and scientific discourse.


Conference location

Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum, Auditorium, Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 1-3, 10117 Berlin, 25-26 November 2016


Friday, 25 November

11:30-13:00    Keynote 1Raya Morag (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Communications and Journalism),

                       “Perpetrator Trauma in Current World Cinema”, Chair: Julia B. Köhne (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institut für


13:00-14:15          Lunch break          

14:15-15:45    Seminar 1Audio-visualization of trauma and history of (psycho)traumatology

                                Discussion led by: Anne Freese (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, History Department)  and Julia B. Köhne (Humboldt- 

       Universität zu Berlin, Institut für Kulturwissenschaft)

15:45-16:15             Coffee break

16:15-17:45    Seminar 2Trauma aestheticization and imagery

         Discussion led by: Maj Hasager (Malmö Art Academy, Critical Pedagogical Studies-MFA programme) and Peter Leese        

         (University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies)           

        Film screening: Decembers – narrating history (15 min.) and scenes from Decembers – a round table conversation


Saturday, 26 November

10:00-11:30       Keynote 2Thomas Elsaesser (University of Amsterdam, Department of Media & Culture), “Trauma and Media: A         

                          Question of Reference or Mode of Address? Chair: Jason Crouthamel (Grand Valley State University, History Department)

11:30-11:45              Coffee break

11:45-13:15        Seminar 3Speaking in different voices: Oral and written languages of trauma, and interdisciplinary histories of

                           trauma conceptualization,

                           Discussion led by: Ulrich Koch (The George Washington University, School of Medicine and Health Sciences) and Steven

                           Schouten (European University Institute, San Domenico di Fiesole, Florence)

13:15-14:30              Lunch break

14:30-16:30        Keynote 3Agnieszka Piotrowska (University of Bedfordshire, UK, Film Theory and Practice), “(Postcolonial) Trauma,

                           Transgression and Transference” Film screening and discussion: Lovers in Time (60 min.) Chair and Introduction: Thomas

                           Elsaesser (University of Amsterdam, Department of Media & Culture)

16:30-16:45             Coffee break

16:45-18:15        Seminar 4Silences and Corporealities of Trauma

                            Discussion led by: Ville Kivimäki (University of Tampere, Finland, School of Social Sciences and Humanities) and Eva  

                            Schwark (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Contact Info: 

Conference location: November 25-26  2016 at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum, Auditorium


Conference organizers: Jason Crouthamel (Grand Valley State University) and Julia B. Koehne (Humbolt Universtiy at Berlin)

Contact Email: