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2004 SIAH

Trauma, Time, and Memory

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.

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Teaching Team

Phillip Thurtle

Assistant Professor, Comparative History of Ideas,

Phillip Thurtle is an assistant professor of the Comparative History of Ideas program. He recently returned to the UW from Carleton University where he was an assistant professor of sociology and anthropology. He received his PhD in history and the philosophy of science from Stanford University. He has co-edited with Robert Mitchell (English, Duke University) the volumes Data Made Flesh: Embodying Information (Routledge, 2003) and Semiotic Flesh: Information and the Human Body (University of Washington Press, 2002). His research focuses on identity and biology in the American eugenics movement, the use of new media in the representation of popular science, the material culture of information processing, comics and the affective-phenomenlogical domains of media, and the role of information processing technologies in biomedical research. His work has appeared in the Stanford Humanities Review, the Journal of Immunology, and the Journal of the History of Biology as well as as well as the Oxford University Press Handbook of Science and the edited collection Shifting Groud: Transformed Views of the American Landscape. He formerly worked with tissue culture, genetic manipulation, and functional biomolecular characterization as a molecular immunologist.

Kari Tupper

Senior Lecturer, Comparative History of Ideas and Women Studies,

Kari Tupper is a Senior Lecturer in Comparative History of Ideas and Women Studies and former Acting Director of Comparative History of Ideas. Areas of research and teaching include American Studies, law and literature, the rhetoric of science and law, and theorizing interdisciplinarity in teaching and research. In 2002 she received a Tools for Transformation Grant from the College of Arts and Sciences to design and teach a course linking the sciences, social sciences, and humanities at the University of Washington. She taught “Genomics, Human Life, and the Future of Society” twice with Jeffrey Bonadio, a former faculty member in Bioengineering. She has delivered numerous talks and conference papers on linking the sciences and humanities in teaching and research. Other recent work has focused on bringing faculty from the Medical School, Law School, Engineering, Biology and various humanities and social science units together to design curriculum and potential interdisciplinary projects at UW.

Claudia X. Valdes

Research Associate, Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS),

Claudia X. Valdes is an intermedia artist concerned primarily with issues of time, memory, and perception. Recent projects in have been realized in formats of experimental cinema and digital video installations investigating the history of nuclear arms development. She was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1972. Valdes received an MFA and was awarded the Eisner Prize in Art from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001. Her work has been exhibited internationally: at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; MCA Chicago; WRO Center for Media Art, Wroclaw, Poland; the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA; the UCR/California Museum of Photography; Art in General, New York; Centro Multimedia/Centro National de las Artes, Mexico; and the Werkstätten und Kulturhaus, Austria. Valdes taught digital media at UC Berkeley in 2001, was an Affiliate Artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts from 2001-2003, and is a Research Associate in the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media at the University of Washington, Seattle for the 2003-2004 year. At UW, Valdes will be teaching core curriculum theory and studio based courses from which the first DXARTS majors will be selected.

Lisa Darms

Instructor, Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS),

Lisa Darms is an artist working with video and photography. She has collaborated extensively, most notably as a member of the group Thin Ice. Born in British Columbia, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from The Evergreen State College, and her MFA from the University of Washington. While at the UW, she taught in the Photography program and worked two years for the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media. She has shown her solo and collaborative work nationally, and was a primary organizer of the Arts Festival Ladyfest 2000 in Olympia, Washington.

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