Call for Book Chapters: "Poetics and Politics of Trauma: Regional Wounds, Universal Traumas, and the Possibility of Empathy"

Deconstructive trauma theory pioneered in the West by scholars such as Cathy Caruth and Jeoffrey Hartman has been criticized by postcolonial scholars for the psychologization of traumatic experience, making it individual and linguistic rather than material and collective, while de-historicizing and de-politicizing the traumatic experience of colonized population. Recent pluralist and postcolonial approaches to trauma studies emphasize the social, cultural, and political specificities of traumatic experience.

Vernon Press invites chapter proposals for the collected work Poetics and Politics of Trauma: Regional Wounds, Universal Traumas, and the Possibility of Empathy, edited by Maryam Ghodrati and Rachel Dale. We aim to ask whether, in a globalizing world grappling with copious forms of traumatizing grievances (including terrorism, wars, massive displacements of refugees, the rise of far-right sentiments, police violence, etc.), both deconstructivist and pluralist theories could merge to provide an understanding of trauma, its narrative, and sociopolitical dimensions. How can we consider the ongoing nature of suffering experienced by traumatized subjects and yet develop a more humane way of representation that could lead to what Dominick LaCapra termed as “empathic unsettlement”? What relations exist between the empathetic vision and the prevention of suffering? Could the unbridgeable gap between the sufferer and non-survivor be bridged by the nature of its incomprehensibility? In a sense, can we define suffering and pain as a universalized concept without sacrificing native cultural and political specificities? 

We welcome innovative scholarly work on topics related to historical and ongoing contemporary traumas experienced by non-white communities. This includes the conflict zones (primarily the Middle East and North Africa), colonial, neo-colonial and postcolonial world, border lines and immigrants, and minorities in the West.

Disciplines of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Humanities and social science
  • Comparative Literature, Studies
  • Critical Studies
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Black Studies
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Disability Studies
  • Visual Arts Studies
  • Gender and Queer studies
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Intertextuality
  • Liminality and/or alterity
  • Realism-Modernism and Post-Modernism
  • Migration Studies, Diaspora Studies, and/or Border Studies
  • Multilingual literatures
  • Reception, adaptation, remediation, and/or fandom
  • Transgression and/or taboo
  • Translation Studies
  • Transnational literature and culture
  • Anthropology, Area Studies, Archaeology
  • Culture and Ethics Studies
  • History
  • Communication studies
  • Cross-cultural studies
  • Development studies
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Literature
  • Performing Art
  • Philosophy
  • Media studies
  • International relations
  • Law, Linguistics, Library science
  • Political science, Philosophy
  • Psychology, Population Studies
  • Religious studies

Please submit a full draft of a chapter to Rachel Dale ( and Maryam Ghodrati ( Final chapter lengths will be 6,000-8,000 words.

Chapters due: November 15, 2021

This proposal is due on November 15th 2021.

Page last updated on September 24th 2021. All information correct at the time, but subject to change.