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Trauma Studies: Start-Up Bibliography

Here is a very limited bibliography of some foundational texts in Trauma Studies. The idea is to provide a
general gateway into existing scholarship of the last decade or so.
Ann Kaplan, Trauma and Culture: The Politics of Terror and Loss in Media and Literature (New Brunswick, N. J.:
Rutgers University Press, 2005): This theoretical work investigates the effects of trauma on
various types of collective experiences including that of indigenous/colonized
Allan Young, The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1995). This is an important anthropological critique which argues that PTSD is a
recent cultural construction and a man-made subject of analysis. Historians of nonWestern societies might find this book of interest.
Cathy Caruth, Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University
Press, 1996).
----------- Trauma: Explorations in Memory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995). These two
early texts brought the psychoanalytic literature about trauma into the Humanities via
the field of Comparative Literature. They are canonical to the development of Trauma
Didier Fassin and Richard Rechtman, The Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009). You are already familiar with this text.
Dominick LaCapra, Writing History, Writing Trauma (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press,
2001). LaCapra is a key thinker on trauma in relation to Fascism, Nazism and the
Jeffrey Alexander et al. (eds.), Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity (Berkeley: University of California Press,
2004). This sociological project partakes in developing a notion of collective cultural
trauma thus moving the psychoanalytic discussion from the individual to collectivities.
Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery (New York: Basic Books, 1992): This is a powerful feminist
critique of trauma and a truly foundational text in the psychoanalytic tradition that
conceptualize PTSD as a condition that is shared by victims of child abuse, rape and war
Mark Rothberg, Decolonizing Trauma: A Response, Special Issue of Volume 40, ,Studies in the Novel
,Numbers 1 & 2(Spring & Summer 2008): This article introduces a special issue edition that
criticizes the concept of trauma as a Euro-centric construction which fails to account for
African and, more generally, post-colonial experiences. Though some of the ideas are
quite raw, they are nonetheless applicable to the history of minorities, Third-World
histories etc.
Ruth Lays, Trauma: A Genealogy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000): This is the most detailed
intellectual history of the concept of trauma from its early conceptualization in the late
19th century to its present ubiquity.