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Trauma and Justice

  • Module code: EL7014
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 7
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

Personal testimonies and oral and textual representations of traumatic experience are the life force of human rights work, and rights claims have brought profound power to the practice of historical and autobiographically based writing. This module uses a range of approaches from a number of disciplines to explore the connections and conversations between human rights and the representation of familial and socio/historical traumatic experiences in writing. We will examine traumatogenic works by survivor-writers who are eyewitnesses to slavery, genocide, and forced displacement as well as those who have experienced personal, familial violence and rights abuse. We will also look at works by theorists of trauma and autobiographical writing, documentary filmmakers and human rights advocates making use of literary/critical, historical, psychological, and rights advocacy approaches in our discussions.

The module will have four key sections sections—testimony, recognition, representation, and justice—evoking the key stages in turning experience into a human rights story. In doing so it attends to such diverse and varied arts as autobiography, documentary film, report, oral history, blog, and verbatim theater. It will begin by looking at moving personal accounts from those who have endured persecution, imprisonment, and torture; turn to meditations on experiences of injustice and protest by creative writers and filmmakers; and finally explore innovative research on ways that digital media, commodification, and geopolitics are shaping what is possible to hear and say.

Aims

  • To investigate      critically the connections between human rights and the representation of      traumatic experience in several forms of writing
  • To participate      in interdisciplinary research and discussion and consider the usefulness      of different methodologies in analysing traumatogenic writing in various      forms
  • To reflect on      the complex ways in which truth, memory, forgetting and storytelling      impact on traumatogenic writing
  • To explore the      role of trauma narratives in the advancement of human rights

Learning outcomes

  • Critically      understand the connections between human rights and the representation of      trauma in several forms of writing
  • Make      sophisticated use of a number of disciplinary approaches to the reading of      traumatogenic narratives, drawing connections across those disciplines  
  • Demonstrate      their awareness of the key stages of       testimony, recognition, representation,      and justice in turning experience into a human rights story
  • Present their      academic work in progress clearly and effectively to both peers and tutors
  • Gain a strong      understand the complex role of trauma narratives in the advancement of      human rights

Curriculum content

  • Introduction to      Traumatogenic Writing: What is Trauma/What is Text
  • StoryTelling and      Rhetoric: Who is Speaking to Whom?
  • Testimony:      Telling, Collecting and Writing Them Down
  • Recognition:      Sharing, Publishing, Who is Listening to Whom?
  • Representation:      The Use of Form (literary, rhetorical, biased, metaphoric)
  • Justice:      Juridical and Therapeutic Outcomes for Evidence

Teaching and learning strategy

The module will be taught in a series of two-hour seminars. These fortnightly sessions are flexible so as to allow detailed exploration of both texts and critical debates which engage with aspects of trauma, justice and writing and may include presentations by the module leader, short student presentations and peer-led discussions.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Seminars 22
Guided independent study 278
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Assessment for this module comprises two elements:

The first (30%) is a 2,000-word ‘conference paper’ which will be delivered in seminar and submitted for assessment. The topics of these in-class presentations will be chosen under guidance from the module leader, and will provide students the opportunity to explore an aspect of traumatogenic writing and/or the relationship between representations of traumatic experience and human rights work.

 

The second (70%) is a 4,000 word critical essay which will focus on one or more key concerns of the module and will allow students to demonstrate their in-depth knowledge and understanding of the complex relationship between human rights and the representation of familial and socio/historical traumatic experiences in writing, and the various methodologies for assessing this relationship in a number of writing forms.

In addition to weekly seminar discussion and formal presentations, drafting and preparation of the critical essay will provide explicit opportunities for formative feedback.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Critically understand the connections between human rights and the representation of trauma in several forms of writing Assessed formatively by class discussion and in-class presentation of conference paper. Assessed summatively by a critical essay and shorter conference paper.
Make sophisticated use of a number of disciplinary approaches to the reading of traumatogenic narratives, drawing connections across those disciplines Assessed formatively by class discussion and in-class presentation of conference paper. Assessed summatively by a critical essay and shorter conference paper.
Demonstrate their awareness of the key stages of testimony, recognition, representation, and justice in turning experience into a human rights story Assessed formatively by class discussion and in-class presentation of conference paper. Assessed summatively by a critical essay and shorter conference paper.
Present their academic work in progress clearly and effectively to both peers and tutors Assessed formatively by class discussion and in-class presentation of conference paper. Assessed summatively by a critical essay and shorter conference paper.
Gain a strong understand the complex role of trauma narratives in the advancement of human rights Assessed formatively by class discussion and in-class presentation of conference paper. Assessed summatively by a critical essay and shorter conference paper.

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
CWK 2000 word conference paper 30
CWK 4000 word essay 70
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Dave Eggers, What is the What? The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng: A Novel  (Hamish Hamilton, 2007)

Adolf Eichmann. The Trial of Adolf Eichmann: Record of Proceedings in the District Court of Jerusalem, 9 vols. Jerusalem: Trust for the Publication of the Proceedings of the Eichmann Trial, 1992-.

Mark Falkoff, ed. Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak. (University of Iowa, 2007)

Shoshana Felman, The Juridical Unconscious: trials and traumas in the twentieth century, (Harvard UP, 2002).

Meg Jensen and Margaretta Jolly ‘We Shall Bear Witness”: Life Narratives and Human Rights(University of Wisconsin Press, 2014)

Joseph Slaughter, Human Rights, Inc.: the world novel, narrative form, and international law (Fordham UP, 2007).

Bibliography recommended reading

Cathy Caruth, Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History. ( Johns Hopkins UP, 1996)

Kate Douglas, Contesting Childhood: autobiography, trauma, and memory (Rutgers UP, 2010)

Leigh Gilmore, The Limits of Autobiography (Cornell UP, 2001).

Andreas Huyssen, Present Pasts: urban palimpsests and the politics of memory (Stanford UP, 2003)

Dominick LaCapra, Writing History, Writing Trauma (Johns Hopkins UP, 2001)

Annette Wieviorka, The Era of the Witness. Translated by Jared Stark (Cornell UP, 2006)

 

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