Transformations of Trauma in the Age of Climate Change

WORKSHOP with Stef Craps (Ghent University)

Friday 22nd November, 1-4 pm.

Location: Roeterseiland E gebouw E0.22

The increasing visibility of climate change and scientists’ alarming warnings about it are taking a toll on people’s mental well-being. This lecture surveys the culturally resonant repertoire of new coinages that have emerged in recent years to name and communicate environmentally induced distress. It pays particular attention to the concept of pre-traumatic stress disorder, which has become the focus of a small but important body of humanistic scholarship calling for an expanded trauma theory that would be future- as well as past-oriented. Noting trauma theory’s persistent human-centredness, the lecture goes on to consider attempts that are being made to reconceptualize trauma in non-anthropocentric terms and to acknowledge the interconnectedness and entanglement of human and non-human traumas. It ends by predicting that cultural trauma research, which has so far shown relatively little interest in environmental issues in general and climate change in particular, will engage more fully with our dire environmental predicament in the years ahead.

Stef Craps is a professor of English literature at Ghent University, where he directs the Cultural Memory Studies Initiative. His research interests lie in twentieth-century and contemporary literature and culture, memory and trauma studies, postcolonial theory, and ecocriticism and environmental humanities. He is the author of Postcolonial Witnessing: Trauma Out of Bounds (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Trauma and Ethics in the Novels of Graham Swift: No Short-Cuts to Salvation (Sussex Academic Press, 2005), and a co-editor of Memory Unbound: Tracing the Dynamics of Memory Studies (Berghahn, 2017). He has also co-edited two special issues of Studies in the Novel, on climate change fiction and postcolonial trauma novels, and one of Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts, on transcultural Holocaust memory. He has recently co-authored an introductory guide to the concept of trauma, which is forthcoming in Routledge’s New Critical Idiom series, and is currently guest-editing a special issue of American Imago on ecological grief.

In preparation for the workshop students read three academic chapters/articles (see reading list below); they formulate a question for Stef Craps (around 200 words), which they print and bring to the workshop.

Participation in the workshops earns RMA students 1 EC. Register by sending a mail to Please mention your affiliation.

Reading list:

  • Craps, Stef. “Climate Change and the Art of Anticipatory Memory.” Parallax 23:4 (2017): 479-492.
  • Cunsolo, Ashlee & Karen Landman, eds. Mourning Nature: Hope at the Heart of Ecological Loss and Grief. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017. Introduction.
  • Saint-Amour, Paul. “Waiting for the Bomb to Drop.” The New York Times, 3 August 2015.

Transmission in Motion Seminar (2019-2020)

Transmission in Motion Seminar (2019-2020): “Expanded Practices of Knowing: Interdisciplinary Approaches”

Technological developments inform the ways information travels through media, turn archives into ‘dynarchives,’ and set knowledge cultures in motion. Such developments foreground the performativity of practices of sharing knowledge and the materiality of mediation; moreover, they point to the sensory, movement and embodiment as important aspects to take into account. This year’s seminar will investigate the potential of radical interdisciplinary collaborations between media and performance studies, science and the arts for understanding and developing ways of sharing information,  knowledge and expertise.  What can interdisciplinary collaboration bring to understanding the role of old and new technologies in these processes? How is interdisciplinary collaboration itself technological or at least a technique? How can it foster the development of new insights, technologies and practices?

TiM Seminar Programme (2019-2020)

*Session organized with the support of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Utrecht University.

The Transmission in Motion Seminar is a more-or-less monthly gathering of researchers and students from across disciplines. To participate, please send an email to to receive additional information and readings. RMA Students can acquire 3 EC if they attend all meetings and write blog posts after each meeting. Please register at For more information, contact Maaike Bleeker at m.a.bleeker[a]

Image credits: ”Sense of Motion” by Mr. Nixter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Memory, Word and Image: W.G. Sebald’s Artistic Legacies

Seminar taught by Prof.Dr. Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes and Dr. Ilse van Rijn

Amsterdam, 6 December (Pre-meeting), 12-14 December (Conference), 16 December (post-meeting), 2019

Artists tend to work across disciplines and “art cannot be disciplined” (Hito Steyerl). Taking the case of W.G. Sebald’s interdisciplinary word and image practice on memory and presences of (migratory) lives as touchstone for our discussions, this conference seeks to foster academic, professional, artistic and public scholarship by exploring cutting-edge interdisciplinary research, findings, techniques, practices and theoretical advances in the areas of memory, word and image. Which role do art and literature play in this regard?

In order to deepen our understanding of writing with images (a key question in e.g. artistic research) and how it intersects with questions of memory, participants of the seminar will actively participate in the international conference 12-14 December 2019. The conference is the core activity in this NICA course; up-to-date details can be found at:

This seminar is meant for all researchers interested in word and image matters, whether from a literary, cultural analysis, art history or other vantage point.

In a pre-meeting with Mia Lerm Hayes on Friday 6 December, students are asked to relate the conference’s themes to their own research and motivate their plans for which of the parallel sessions and/or workshops they will attend. They will read at least one of Sebald’s major novels and prepare the conference keynote by James Elkins (details below) by consulting, where much primary and secondary literature are given. Art students of ‘Approaching Language,’ Sandberg Instituut, join university students, the course thus conceptually questioning the traditional separation between image and language, practice and theory, as does Sebald’s work.

On 16 December, the Monday after the conference, students will reflect on their findings in a morning workshop taught by Ilse van Rijn. This session is followed by a discussion with James Elkins in the afternoon. For these Monday encounters, students are asked to prepare (on basis of the pre-meeting) a page that relates their own projects to the matters of discussion (or Elkins’ work more broadly), leading to a question for Elkins to address at the meeting.

Finally, students will write a short reflection on their learning during the conference and meeting with Elkins, to be commented on with feedback by the teachers.

James Elkins : Models For Word and Image: From Rodenbach to Fernandez Mallo

Keynote Abstract:

The prevalence of Sebald in studies of fictional narratives that incorporate images has led to a lack of theorization of other practices. Sebald’s practice is generally to anchor the image in its surrounding text in such a way that the reader is led up to, into, and past the image with minimal interruption in the flow of reading. In that way his narratives can explore continuous paths of memory on which images are passing waystations. It is also possible to permit images to slow the narrative, or to draw readers repeatedly back to the images, or to use images to cast doubt on the narrator or the narration. I will compare Sebald’s practices to what can be found in Georges Rodenbach, Breton, Tan Lin, Anne Carson, Christian Bök, Fernandez Mallo, Philipp Weiss, and others, in order to suggest that Sebald is only one example of a long discontinuous history of writing on images.

James Elkins is C. Chadbourne Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism (1989). BA, cum laude, 1977, Cornell University; MFA and MA, 1983, and PhD with honors, 1989, University of Chicago. Books:Pictures and Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings; Chinese Landscape Painting as Western Art History; Pictures of the Body: Pain and Metamorphosis; The Domain of Images; How to Use Your Eyes; What Painting Is; The Poetics of Perspective; The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing; Why are our Pictures Puzzles?; On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them; What Happened to Art Criticism?; Six Stories from the End of Representation; Visual Studies: A Skeptical Introduction; What Photography Is; Art Critiques: A Guide.

Register by sending an email to Eloe Kingma at The seminar can host up to 10 participants and admission is on a first come, first in basis. For full participation and the written reflection you may earn 3 EC.


Decolonizing & Indigenizing Justice: Confronting Colonial Injustice in an “Age of Reconciliation”?

NICA Masterclass with Patricia Barkaskas (Instructor & Director Indigenous Community Legal Clinic, University of British Columbia)

For: (research) master students / PhD candidates

Date: Friday, November 1, 2019
Time: 10:00-12:00
Location: University Library (Potgieterzaal), Singel 425, Amsterdam

Participants can earn 1 EC by attending, preparation of the reading and active participation.

While much academic and public discourse since the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Final Report has and continues to emphasize reconciliation, there is also deep skepticism about a process of reconciling that so readily glosses over truth-telling about the history of genocide in Canada. More recently, the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls found “human rights and Indigenous rights abuses committed and condoned by the Canadian state represent genocide against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.” This truth disrupts the notion that we have entered an “Age of Reconciliation” and challenges us to consider how we will meaningful address the ongoing colonial project in Canada and reframe reconciliation to consider meaningful justice for Indigenous peoples, communities – urban, rural, and reserve – and Nations.

Grounded in the work of experiential teaching and learning about justice utilizing decolonial and Indigenous methodology and pedagogy at the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic, located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, this masterclass considers questions connected to the project of a decolonial resistance pedagogy, and its significance in Canada for the project of decolonizing and Indigenizing justice.

Required Reading:

-Barkaskas, Patricia and Buhler, Sarah. “Beyond Reconciliation: Decolonizing Clinical Legal Education.” Journal of Law and Social Policy 26. (2017): 1-20.

-Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada – Calls to Action (

-National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – Calls for Justice (


Patricia M. Barkaskas is Métis from Alberta. Her research focuses on the intersection of justice and law, including access to justice, clinical legal education, and decolonizing and Indigenizing law. She is particularly interested in examining the value of Indigenous pedagogies in experiential learning, clinical legal education, and skills-based legal training, and disrupting the normative violence of colonial legal education.

Patricia is the Director of the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic, which is located in the Downtown Eastside community of Vancouver on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sə̓lílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. The ICLC welcomes up to thirty law students a year who provide free legal services to the Indigenous community in the Lower Mainland and throughout the province.  Students are taught through hands-on experience conducting legal work on client files, including legal research, submissions, and court appearances. Professor Barkaskas is also faculty lead for the law school’s Indigenous Cultural Competency Certificate, launched in September 2018. The ICCC is an eight-month non-credit certificate course that assists students in developing better understandings of colonial assumptions, beliefs, and biases that form the foundation of the Canadian legal system, the history of colonial practices and policies in Canada, Indigenous perspectives on law, and what decolonization means for the practice of law.

Before attending law school, Professor Barkaskas earned a M.A. in History, with a focus on Indigenous histories in North America, and worked for Residential school survivors as an historical legal researcher for the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. As part of her J.D., she completed a Law and Social Justice Specialization. After receiving her law degree from UBC, she practiced in the areas of child protection (as parent’s counsel), criminal, family, civil litigation, and prison law. She has written Gladue reports for all levels of court in BC.

Cultural Studies Now

Cultural Studies Now
As Cultural Studies emerged in the early 1960s, perhaps its most pressing call was for academic knowledge to relate actively to the present socio-political situation or ‘conjuncture.’ In that vein, this course aims to revisit and, if necessary, criticize and update the canonical concerns and priorities of the field. What did crucial terms such as identity politics, interdisciplinarity, and popular culture mean in the 1960s, and what can they still mean today, a time when so much once-progressive notions may seem obsolete or co-opted by power? In this course, we revisit the main areas of concern for Cultural Studies – revolving on conjuncture, (identity) politics, reality, interdisciplinarity, and (popular) culture — in relation to current developments. Should Cultural Studies maintain a certain canonical or disciplinary form, or fundamentally adapt to changed and changing circumstances? With key readings by Stuart Hall, Mieke Bal, Paul Smith, Lawrence Grossberg, Asad Haidar, Nancy Fraser, and others.

Instructor: Murat Aydemir (

Time and Place: Tuesdays, from October 29 to December 10, 13:00-16:00. See below.

Registration is open from 15 September 2019. Registration is limited to 25 participants.

Register by sending an e-mail to Eloe Kingma at Please be sure to specify your research master program and university.


29 October 2019 | 13:00  16:00 | Roeterseiland Building JK | REC JK B.52

5 November 2019 | 13:00  16:00 | Roeterseiland Building JK | REC JK B.52

12 November 2019 | 13:00  16:00  | Roeterseiland Building JK | REC JK 3.38A 

19 November 2019 | 13:00  16:00 | Roeterseiland Building JK |  REC JK 3.38A

26 November 2019 | 13:00  16:00 | Roeterseiland Building C | REC C K.07 

3 December 2019 | 13:00  16:00 | Roeterseiland Building JK |  REC JK 3.38A 

10 December 2019 | 13:00  16:00 | Roeterseiland Building C | REC C K.07