Instructor: Epstein Online
According to author, filmmaker, and Buchenwald survivor Jorge Semprun, only literature with its subtle and array of symbolic language is capable of imparting an adequate representation of unimaginable trauma within human life. Given that recent DNA testing has also indicated that traumatic experience is likely passed on for as many as two generations after the event, understanding the effects of traumatic experience is a worthwhile goal for members of any society. To this end, the course exams the literature that involves such traumas as war, genocide, domestic and societal abuse, colonization, and racism as presented in literature. Using trauma theory to help unpack these stories, the class will read and interpret several authors whose innovative strategies of storytelling attempt to render a deeper understanding of the nature of those experiences in order to familiarize readers with both the physical and emotional cost of violence or traumatic injury on individuals as well as groups. The class will focus on understanding the myriad layers of traumatic experience as represented on the page and screen in narrative form. In tandem with theoretical tools of psychology, ethics, and literary criticism, students will formulate their own understandings of how individual and cultural traumas may influence families and societies as a whole, now and in the future. Books such as The Long Voyage and A Pale View of Hills along films and other stories will serve as primary texts.