Trauma in Art, Literature, Film, and Visual Culture


Theories of trauma draw upon clinical psychology, philosophy, critical theory, art, literature, and film to provide multiple perspectives and analyses of the psychological and emotional impact and long-term effects of violence, destruction, and abuse on the body and society. The course considers topics ranging from the Holocaust to contemporary political extremism, from cults, gangs and racism to homophobia, and from sexual violence and abuse to genocide, global warming, and entire cultures of trauma. Theories of trauma enable students to gain the visual and theoretical acuity to identify, comprehend, theorize, and respond empathically to traumatic subjectivity and its representations.

Theories of trauma applied to visual representations of violence, destruction, and pain in contemporary art, film, and literature, examining the topic through multiple subjects from the Holocaust, cults, gangs, racism, and sexual abuse to cultures of trauma. Theories of trauma examined from a variety of sources including clinical psychology, cultural and trauma studies, art, film, and literature, aiming to enable students to gain the visual acuity to identify, understand, and respond to traumatic images with empathy. Not open to students who have previously taken this course as Art History 295S.
Mike Parr, Twelve Untitled Self-Portraits, 1995
Curriculum Codes
  • EI
  • ALP
  • CZ
Cross-Listed As
  • VMS 557S