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August 2005, Week 4


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Sat, 27 Aug 2005 20:06:13 -0400
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31st Annual Film and Literature Conference at Florida State University
Documenting Trauma, Documenting Terror
February 3-5, 2006
Call for Papers

As terms denoting psychological states, "trauma" and "terror" each mark 
limits of expression. Representations of the traumatic
past may just as easily repeat or act out an injury as resolve or work 
through it. Terror's present is famously blind, unthinking,
sublime. Each of these terms thus suggests a failure of representation. Yet 
both trauma and terror have become central to the
political discussions that chart our future, discussions that often aim to 
solidify and make actionable the difference between
perpetrators and victims, terrorists and the terrorized, inhuman atrocity 
and justifiable retribution.

What does it mean to document trauma or terror under such historical 
conditions? How might attempts to work through
traumas be distinguished from the act of compulsively repeating them? Can 
the two ever be fully distinguished? These
questions have long been central to considerations of how filmmakers, 
writers, and artists document the Holocaust. They have
been important to investigations of U.S. racism, from the Middle Passage 
and Indian Removal, through lynching campaigns
and the internment of Japanese Americans, to more recent hate crimes. 
Questions about what it means to document trauma are
also increasingly germane to representations of September 11, 2001. The 
2006 FSU Film and Literature conference will
extend these inquiries and look beyond them to considerations of many 
traumas and terrors.

We hope the conference will also discuss the comparative field generated by 
"trauma" and "terror" as rubrics. Is it appropriate
to see all traumas as comparable, as posing similar ethical challenges of 
documentation? Or do holocausts, lynchings,
genocides, and hate crimes demand different explanatory frames? Are 
particular procedures necessary to represent an event as
a trauma or an act of terror? If so, what are they? Do they differ in 
visual and verbal media? Do forms characterized as fiction
employ different procedures from those characterized as nonfiction? In what 
ways and to what ends have filmmakers,
playwrights, novelists, poets, journalists, and other documenters 
distinguished the perpetrators from victims and bystanders?
How and with what consequences have they challenged or undermined those 

Finally, the conference will consider the role the act of documenting plays 
in making traumatic histories possible. In what
ways have assertions of the "way things are"--whether they represent 
traumas or not--contributed to unfolding horrors? We
imagine a wide range of discussion from considerations of the figure of 
"the terrorist" in recent U.S. films and newspapers, to
inquiries into the German and American propaganda films of World War II.

Keynote Speakers
Dominick LaCapra is Professor of History and Bowmar Professor of Human 
Studies and Comparative Literature at Cornell
University. LaCapra is the recipient of various awards, including the 2001 
Dactyl Foundation Award for Aesthetic Theory.
His books include: History, Politics, and the Novel (1987); Representing 
the Holocaust: History, Theory, Trauma(1994);
History and Memory after Auschwitz (1998); Writing History, Writing Trauma 
(2001), and most recently, History in Transit:
Experience, Identity, Critical Theory (2004).

Brian Winston, is a Pro-Vice Chancellor (Vice-President) at the University 
of Lincoln. As an active journalist, documentary
filmmaker, and writer, he worked as a producer/director at Granada 
Television and BBC-TV in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1985,
he won a U.S. prime-time Emmy for documentary scriptwriting (at WNET, New 
York). His books include: Media Technology
and Society (1998); Lies, Damn Lies, and Documentaries (2000); and 
Messages: Free Expression, Media, and the West from
Gutenburg to Google (forthcoming, October 2005).

Janet Walker is Professor of Film Studies at the University of California, 
Santa Barbara where she is also affiliated with the
Women's Studies Program. She is the recipient of various awards, including 
a 2001 Distinguished Teaching Award from
UCSB and a recent grant from the California Council for the Humanities to 
make a series of experimental video portraits of
local Holocaust survivors and refugees. Her edited and authored books 
include: Feminism and Documentary, editor with
Diane Waldman (1999); Westerns: Films through History (2001); and most 
recently, Trauma Cinema: Documenting Incest
and the Holocaust (2005).

Keith A. Beauchamp is a filmmaker who has dedicated 10 years of his life to 
telling the story of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old
black boy brutally slain in Mississippi in the summer of 1955. His 
self-financed documentary is entitled The Untold Story of
Emmett Louis Till. Beauchamp studied Criminal Justice and Civil Rights at 
Southern University (Baton Rouge, LA) and then
moved to New York to become a filmmaker. He has worked in music video 
production with Big Baby Films and is founder of
Till Freedom Comes Productions (TFCP), which is devoted producing, 
developing and distributing high quality entertainment
that is both socially significant and educational.

The deadline for conference panel proposals and abstracts is October 1, 2005.

For further updates, please visit our website at

Conference Organizers:
Caroline "Kay" Picart (English), Mark Garrett Cooper (English), and Frank 
P. Tomasulo (Film School)

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