On September 11, 2001, the 21st century awoke to passenger planes piercing the Twin Towers’ façade of invulnerability and power. Yet the grief and trauma of large-scale terrorist violence, so viscerally painful when it hit, soon made way for a resurgent nationalism, suspended constitutional rights, and pre-emptive warfare. Twenty years on, not only has 9/11 lost its initial aura of singularity and unspeakability; the 9/11 attacks also exposed the extent to which trauma is entangled in geo- and biopolitics: Judith Butler’s critique of the nationalist framing of the attacks, which identified some lives to be more “grievable” than others, was only one example of how trauma studies can – and must – challenge the ethics of remembering and witnessing trauma.

Amidst a global pandemic and climate emergency, #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, this volume asks how trauma studies can better respond to complex 21st century realities. Notions of an unspeakable void, so defining for Cathy Caruth’s and Shoshona Feldman’s neo-Freudian approach to trauma at the end of the 20th century, simply cannot account anymore for the patterns of power, toxicity and viral threats which continue to create traumatic suffering.

This volume, to be published by Lexington Books, therefore seeks to raise new questions, and welcomes submissions which explore the long-term global aftermath of the 9/11 attacks; perspectives which update trauma studies for the 21st century beyond the impact of the terrorist event are equally welcome.

Contributors might refer to questions such as the following:

  • Activism – What is the relation between trauma art and activism, for example in the ‘MeToo,’ BLM or ‘Extinction Rebellion’ movements?
  • Beyond Eurocentrism – How have the voices of migrant, refugee, non-Western and non-male artists and writers changed the often phallo-and Eurocentric narratives of psychoanalytical trauma theory?
  • Beyond the Nation State – How does trauma art and literature subvert the nation-state and the practice of reinforced borderlines?
  • Human Rights – How do trauma artists and writers respond to the idea of universal human rights in times of rising inequality?
  • Climate Emergency – How does the climate emergency challenge us to rethink trauma in terms more-than-human suffering?
  • Viral Threat – How do artists and writers respond to viral threats, in the context of Covid-19 as well as the histories of viral devastation experienced by indigenous populations?
  • Virtual Trauma – How do writers and artists explore the increasing digitization and virtual nature of warfare, and its impact on the experience and nature of violence?
  • Implicated Subjects – How has what Michael Rothberg termed the ‘implicated” subject position of the 21st century, in which notions of perpetrator and victim become entwined, changed our conceptions of what it means to be vulnerable?
  • Biopolitics – How are biopolitical challenges and the traumas they might cause explored the arts and literature?
  • Posthumanism – How does trauma art and literature engage with ideas and practices of the posthuman?
  • Futures  – What future can we imagine from such a vulnerable present?

I invite responses to these and related questions from both researchers and practitioners in all related disciplines.

Please email all proposals, ideas and questions to

Submission Deadlines:

  • October 1, 2020: 500-word proposals for contributions, together with a brief biographical statement
  • November 1, 2020: Authors informed of paper selection outcome
  • April 1, 2021: Full Draft Papers, 6000-8000 words