Universität Augsburg, 2013 and 2018

Trauma has developed into one of the key paradigms in the humanities, and in the face of recurring terrorist attacks, it has become almost commonplace to assert that we live in an age of trauma. This seminar invites students to discuss questions of memory, vulnerability and psychological stress via the lens of imaginative literature, poetry and video art. We will explore trauma literature responding to a variety of historical contexts, from World War II to the 9/11 attacks, and discuss how early psychoanalytic concepts of traumatic disorder can be updated for a digitized, globalized present. This also means questioning the discursive links between, for instance, trauma and nationalism, and we will work towards a more transnational understanding of trauma.


  • Kurt Vonnegut. Slaughterhouse 5. 1969.
  • Tony Morrison. Beloved. 1987.
  • Leslie Marmon Silko. Ceremony. 1977.
  • Don DeLillo. Falling Man. 2007.

Additional Reading:

Literary and Psychoanalytical Theory:

Freud, Sigmund (1895). Studien über Hysterie. Ed. Anna Freud. “Sigmund Freud, Gesammelte Werke.” Bd. I. London: Imago, 1969. Excerpts.

Buelens, Gert, Sam Durrant and Robert Eaglestone. Eds. The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary and Cultural Criticism. Abingdon: Routledge, 2014. Excerpts.

Butler, Judith. Precarious Life. The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London/New York 2004. Excerpts.

Caruth, Cathy, Unclaimed Experience. Trauma, Narrative and History. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. Excerpts.

Donn, Katharina. A Poetics of Trauma after 9/11. New York and London: Routledge, 2016.

LaCapra, Dominick. Writing History, Writing Trauma. Baltimore and London: the Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001. Excerpts.

Rothberg, Michael. Multidirectional Memory. Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2009.  Excerpts.


Sherman Alexie, “Inside Dachau.” The Summer of Black Widows. New York: Hanging Loose Press, 1996.

Violet Kazue de Cristoforo. May Sky: There is Always Tomorrow. An Anthology of Japanese American Concentration Camp Kaiko Haiku. Sun & Moon Press, 1997. Excerpts.

Claudia Rankine, Citizen. An American Lyric. Penguin 2014.


Alain Resnais and Marguerite Duras. 1959. Hiroshima mon Amour

Omer Fast. 5000 feet is the Best, 2011.

Graphic Narrative:

Art Spiegelman, In the Shadow of No Towers. Pantheon 2004.