Between Entrapment and Release: Navigating Trauma in Contemporary World Literature

Olivia Holloway's picture
March 10, 2022 to March 13, 2022
Maryland, United States
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Humanities, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Languages, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Dear colleagues,

Please consider this call for conference session contributions for NeMLA 2022 (March 10-13, Baltimore, MD). Dr. Pshevorska and I are organizing this panel and would gratefully welcome contributions from various fields and languages, including interdisciplinary approaches.

Call for Session Contributions: Between Entrapment and Release: Navigating Trauma in Contemporary World Literature (NeMLA 2022)

Proposal Deadline: 30 September 2021

Conference: March 10-13, Baltimore, MD

Session organizers: Liana Pshevorska and Olivia Holloway (West Point)

Trauma is a deeply unsettling personal experience that impacts one’s psyche and underscores tension between experience and language. Considered from the sociological perspective, trauma can also be shaped by public discourse. The main dialectic of trauma, as Judith Herman argues, is “the conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud” (1992). It transforms the way survivors perceive themselves and the world and impacts their relations with others.

The pioneering scholarship of Cathy Caruth, Shoshana Felman, Dori Laub, and Geoffrey Hartman has shaped the field of trauma studies with innovative frameworks for interpreting responses to traumatic experiences and mass violence. Shifting from this traditional paradigm, new studies argue against the “unspeakability” of trauma (Mendel, 2007) and rethink the notion of “unrepresentability” (Forter, 2011). As the critical field evolves, new pluralistic models of analysis emerge and reveal points of tension in representing trauma in literature.

We seek proposals that advance our understanding of the relationship between trauma, memory, and identity at the intersection of psychological and sociocultural factors, official discourse and private memories. This panel aims to investigate the multifaceted nature of trauma, both in its infliction, repercussions, and the various intimate and collective points comprising the social matrix of resolutions. In what ways does fiction represent trauma, its silences, and its imperative to speak? To which extent is fiction able to represent the impossibility of representation itself? How do fiction (including graphic novels) and interdisciplinary inquiry instigate empathy and create an ethical imperative to witness an event? The preferred language of presentations is English.

Suggested topics may include, but are not limited to:

- War trauma, political violence

- Childhood/family trauma, intergenerational trauma

- Private vs public memories

- Gender-based violence

- Migration, displacement

- Fiction and testimony

We are seeking individual proposals for 20-minute presentations in English via the following link: and click “Submit Abstract.”

Presentation proposals are due September 30, 2021.

Please reach out to us with any questions or queries: and