Spring 2010: Trauma, Terror, and Performance

This course explores the interconnections between trauma, terror, memory, and performance through three major 20th and 21st c. events – the Holocaust, Argentina’s ‘Dirty War,’ and the United States’s post 9/11 “war on terror ” – and the theoretical questions they raise. Do they each have their own unique structure and idiom, or can we think about individual and collective trauma through a trans-local, cosmopolitan lens?  Topics include: the performance of state power and state sponsored terror; the individual and collective nature of trauma; the effects of gender, race and power on trauma and memory; embodied practices such as testimony and witnessing, their use in literature, museums, pedagogy, and performance, and their archivization; the relation of torture and truth; the social role of sites of memory and memorialization (Auschwitz, Club Atlético, Ground Zero, Guantanamo, etc.); theaters of justice such as trials, tribunals and truth commissions; performances of protest and resistance.

This course draws from classic and recent readings at the juncture of trauma, memory, and performance studies. To build on the paradigms suggested by the Holocaust, Argentina’s ‘Dirty War,’ and the U.S. after 9/11, students will be encouraged to extend the topics explored in class to other sites.

Please note that this is a consortium course which will alternate meetings at Columbia and NYU.  Students need to figure travel time into their plans.  We plan to meet on Wednesdays from 4 -6:30.  During the semester, several evening talks and seminars will be organized in conjunction with the course, both at Columbia and NYU.