Print Version

Effective: Summer 2014

Advisory: Advisory: One of the following: ENGL 1A, 1AH, 1S & 1T or ESLL 26 strongly recommended; not open to students with credit in HUMN 4H.
Grade Type: Letter Grade Only
Not Repeatable.
FHGE: Humanities Transferable: CSU/UC
4 hours lecture. (48 hours total per quarter)

Description -
This course applies theories of trauma to representations of trauma and violence in the visual arts, literature, film and music with an emphasis on the transformative potential of the creative process. Topics include the representation of war, genocide and racism. Students will gain acuity to identify, understand, empathize, and respond to traumatic subjectivity, its images and artistic as well as social intent.

Course Objectives -
The student will be able to:
  1. Identify diverse cultural and historical origins of values and ideas as related to violence and trauma.
  2. Distinguish the subtlety and complexity with which cultural ideas and values related to violence and trauma are disseminated, encoded and reinforced through literature and visual representation.
  3. Develop correlations between historical, philosophical and cultural contexts and artistic mediums in representing violence and trauma.
  4. Apply criteria of cultural and aesthetic (philosophical) analysis to art works depicting violence and trauma from various historical and cultural backgrounds.
  5. Trace how aesthetic representation of violence and trauma reflects and shapes national discourse.
  6. Identify and evaluate aesthetic experiences of violence and trauma and formulate reactions to these experiences.
  7. Demonstrate via discussion and in writing an awareness of the ways in which ideological and cultural viewpoints shape the representation and reception of art depicting violence and trauma.
Special Facilities and/or Equipment -
LCD Projector, DVD Player.

Course Content (Body of knowledge) -
  1. Introduction to the Field of Trauma Studies
    1. Excerpts, Judith Herman's Trauma and Recovery
      1. Terror
      2. Disassociation
      3. Stages of Recovery
    2. Sigmund Freud and Bessel van der Kolk
      1. Screen Memories
      2. Consequences of Overwhelming Life Experiences
    3. Excerpts, Cathy Caruth, "Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History" and/or Dominick La Capra's "Writing History, Writing Trauma"
      1. Construction of Trauma
      2. Construction of History
  2. Analysis of Visual Art Representing Trauma
    1. e.g. Picasso's Guernica
    2. e.g. Art Spiegelman's Maus I + II
    3. e.g. Vietnam Memorial
  3. Analysis of Literary Representations of Trauma
    1. Excerpts: Sophocles' Antigone or Aeschylus' Agamemnon
    2. Excerpts: Shakespeare's Macbeth
    3. Depictions of War
    4. Depictions of Racism
    5. Holocaust Representation
  4. Analysis of Cinematic Representation of Trauma
    1. Depictions of War
      1. e.g. Excerpts from Christian Carion's "Joyeux Noel" (2005) or Alain Renais' "Hiroshima Mon Amour"(1959).
    2. Depictions of Racism
      1. e.g. Excerpts from Jonathan Demme's "Beloved" (1998) or Norman Jewison's "In the Heat of the Night" (1967)
    3. Holocaust Representation
      1. e.g. Excerpts from Roberto Benigni's "Life is Beautiful" (1997) or "Jan Hrebejk's Divided We Fall" (2000)
  5. Analysis of Music as a Universal Means to Transcend Trauma
    1. Mozart's Requiem
    2. Mourning Songs, Dirges and/or Chants
    3. Lullabies from various cultures
    4. Spirituals
    5. Songs of Struggle
Methods of Evaluation -
  1. Exams
  2. Evaluation of contributions to class discussions
  3. Formal Essay
Representative Text(s) -
Auslander, Shalom. Hope: A Tragedy. New York, NJ: Riverhead Books, 2012.
Aeschylus. Agamemnon. Transl. Philip de May. New York, NJ: Classic Books America, 2009.
Shakespeare. Macbeth. New York, NJ: Washington Square Press, 1992.
Spiegelman. Art, Maus: A Survivor's Tale: Part I, My Father Bleeds History, Part II, Here My Troubles Began. New York, NJ: Pantheon Books, 1985.
Freud, Sigmund. Screen Memories in Peter Gay, ed., The Freud Reader: 117-126. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995.
La Capra, Dominick. Writing History, Writing Trauma. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

Disciplines -
Method of Instruction -
  1. Lecture Presentations
  2. In-class Discussions
Lab Content -
Not applicable.
Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing and Outside of Class Assignments -
  1. Weekly assigned readings from 5-50 pages drawn from both primary and secondary sources.
  2. Brief philosophical and literary critical readings designed to familiarize students with ongoing debates and perspectives in trauma theory and the aesthetics of violence.
  3. Bi-weekly one to two-page essays requiring summary, interpretation, analysis, and synthesis of both original and secondary texts.