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The Summer Institute in the Arts & Humanities

The 2004 Institute

Trauma, Time, and Memory

June 21st - August 20th, 2004

Overview | Faculty | Students | Schedule | Symposium

2004 Overview

Summer Institue Project

Photo by Derrick Jefferies, 2005 Summer Institute

This institute explores the relationship between traumatic events and human memory. In the aftermath of conflicts involving violence and human rights violations around the world-in Bosnia, Kosovo, South Africa, and elsewhere-as well as the American tragedy of September 11, scholars in many disciplines have tried to understand how people respond to, remember, and recover from deeply traumatic events. Humanities scholars have focused increasingly in the last several years on understanding representations of trauma in literature, history, the arts, and the social sciences.

This eight week intensive institute, taught by a historian of science and technology (Phillip Thurtle), an intermedia artist (Claudia X. Valdes), and scholar in literary criticism and cultural studies (Kari Tupper), provides an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to understanding trauma and its connections to history and memory, time, narrative, embodiment, visual arts, and social relationships. We will begin by developing an understanding of what constitutes trauma: how it has been defined and conceptualized by academic researchers, practitioners, artists, and laypeople, and also how those definitions frame and affect our understanding of and responses to traumatic events. We will evaluate the ways in which tragic events define selves and societies over time. Memories of trauma connect the past and the present in unique and dynamic ways. Experiences of trauma are not static or bounded by linear time, but rather are recursive; they continue to exist as haunting presences within individuals and cultures, and these presences can become manifest-in visual symbols, psychological effects, stories, and so forth-years and even generations after the original events.

Through an innovative mix of plenary, seminar, and tutorial style sessions the institute will encourage co-operative learning, project-based exploration of materials, and the development of individual thought and expression. Readings will be chosen from the disciplines of cultural studies, art, art history, literary criticism, and social theory. Students will be encouraged to use their experiences in lecture and discussion to come up with a conceptual and practical "toolbox" for exploring the rich critical theoretical terrain of trauma, time, and memory. Finally, working on their own, in small groups, and with individual faculty members, institute participants will use this toolbox to develop an exemplary piece of research that will allow them to demonstrate their full talents to postgraduate or professional programs. Possible projects might include but are not limited to: representing trauma (in art, literature, critical theory), the nature of memory, scales of time and embodied experience, the role of witness and public testimony in treating trauma, prosthetic memories (the role of technology in cultural and individual memory), and paradoxical forms of memory (false memory and déjà vu). The Institute will culminate in a series of presentations and in the publication of an anthology of student research in the arts and humanities.

The Third Annual, 2004 UW Summer Institute in the Arts & Humanities at the University of Washington was sponsored by Undergraduate Academic Affairs , the Simpson Center for the Humanities , the Office of Research , Summer Quarter , the Undergraduate Research Program , and the Mary Gates Endowment for Students .

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