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Schedule of Topics & Readings

1/20    Introduction: Performing Trauma

Introduction to ‘performance,’ ‘trauma’ and ‘terror’

  • Video testimonies by survivors and bystanders
    Uses and abuses of survivor testimony
1/27 Performances of state power and state sponsored terror
  • View:   Leni Riefenstahl, Triumph of the Will
  • Read:   Richard Schechner, Restoration of behavior icon Schechner, Restoration of Behavior (7.64 MB)
  • and from Performance Studies: An Introduction, Ch 2.,"Actuals," and 9/11 PMLA
  • Taylor: Disappearing Acts, ch. 4 and 5, Percepticide

2/03    “Never for the first time”: Trauma and the Nature of the Repeat
  • View: Alain Resnais and Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima mon amour
2/10    Wounding a Population: Trauma and Terror
  • Julio Cortazar, Graffiti
  • Michael Taussig, from The Nervous System, “Terror as Usual” icon Taussig Ch. 2 (353.39 kB)
  • and “Maleficium: State Fetishism” icon Taussig Ch. 7 (1.16 MB)
  • Taylor: Disappearing Acts, ch. 4 and 5, Percepticide
  • Joseph Roach, Cities of the Dead, Ch 1 and 2.
2/17 Case study: Torture
  • Jean Amery, “Torture”
  • Jacobo Timmerman, Prisoner without a Name, selections, icon Timerman (214.56 kB)
  • Marianne Hirsch, “Torture and Close Reading”

2/24 Embodied memory and transmission
  • Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz, excerpt
  • Charlotte Delbo, Days and Memory, excerpt
  • Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember (Ch 1-3)
  • Jill Bennett, Art and Affect (chapts 1 & 2)
  • Marianne Hirsch, “The Generation of Post-Memory” icon Hirsch, Post Memory (3.49 MB)
  • and “Marked by Memory.”
  • Diana Taylor, “DNA of Performance” icon Taylor, DNA (3.2 MB)
3/03    Theaters of Justice: Victims or Perpetrators
  • View: The Specialist (Eichmann trial)
  • Read:   Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem
  • Shoshana Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, chpts 3, 4
  • Marianne Hirsch: “Holocaust Studies/Memory Studies: The Witness in the Archive”
  • “Trials of the Generals” (Arg, 1985)
  • 9/11  Commission (video footage)
3/10     9/11 Video of Footage
  • Spiegelman, In the Shadow of Two Towers
  • Falling Man (selections)
  • Richard Schechner, 9/11 as Avant-Garde Art
  • Afflicted Powers (selections)
  • Marianne Hirsch, Collateral Damage
  • Diana Taylor, “Lost in the Field of Vision: Witnessing 9/11” icon Taylor, Field of Vision (4.27 MB)


3/24    “War on Terror”
  • Steven Colbert, “The Doom Bunker”
  • Glen Beck, “The Worst Case Scenarios"

  • Simulation
  • Reenactment
  • Virtual Iraq
  • Diana Taylor, War Play

3/31    Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo
  • Judith Butler, Frames of War (Selections)
  • Susan Sontag, Watching the Pain of Others
  • Anne McClintock, “Paranoid Empire” icon McClintock (594.7 kB)
  • Ariella Azoulay, Selections


4/07   Social role of sites of memory—Auschwitz, ESMA. Ground Zero
  • View: “And Along Came the Tourists”
  • Timothy Ryback
  • Laurie Beth Clark
  • Marita Sturkin
4/14 Discussion
4/21   Discussion
4/28 Discussion


  • Students must attend all classes and participate active in discussion.
  • Weekly postings consisting of reflections on the readings and class discussion on our discussion forum, (due Monday evening at 10PM).
  • A 10 minute class presentation.
  • A final 15pg. paper (paper proposals due April 1).
Books/Articles availabe at Labyrinths Books  and NYU Bookstore
  • Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in the New Age of War
  • Spiegelman, In The Shadow of No Towers
  • Butler, Frames of War
  • Connerton, How Societies Remember
  • Taylor, Disappearing Acts
  • Caruth, Trauma: An Exploration in Memory
  • Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem
  • Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
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