Pablo Picasso, Guernica

Introduction to Trauma

Instructor: Loren Dent
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

The rhetoric of trauma has saturated the medical, academic, and political spheres in the past two decades, exemplified by the rapid rise of interdisciplinary trauma studies. In contemporary parlance, trauma is qualified as being acute, collective, complex, vicarious, and intergenerational, and is implicated in clinical and political concerns ranging from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to free speech debates. What is trauma, and how does it function both personally and collectively—at the level of culture, civil society, and politics?

This course will offer a critical introduction to the discourse of trauma as it relates to psychopathology, identity, and history. We will conceptualize trauma by tracing its history within psychoanalysis and empirical psychology, beginning with competing theories of traumatic hysteria between Sigmund Freud and Pierre Janet, and continuing to more recent relational and intersubjective accounts of trauma. Students will be encouraged to think through the implications of various theories of trauma on identity and subjective pain. Questions relating to both the origin of trauma in a given individual and the genealogy of trauma discourse will be addressed, as well as the critical problems that arise in thinking of collective traumas such as war, genocide, and racism. Readings will include the work of Freud and Janet, Jean Laplanche, Philip Bromberg, Ricardo Ainslie, Dori Laub, Bessel Van Der Kolk, and Ruth Leys.

Course Schedule

Sunday, 2:00-5:00pm ET
September 17 — October 08, 2023
4 weeks


Course enrollment is currently only open for waitlisted students. Please email us to be placed on the waiting list.

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