chapter  15
Trauma studies
ByRichard Crownshaw
Pages 10

The prominence of the academic eld of trauma studies since the 1990s can be explained as part of the ‘ethical turn’ of the humanities, ‘promising to infuse the study of literary and cultural artefacts with new relevance’ following accusations of the indifference of theory, in its ‘deconstructive, poststructuralist or textualist guise’, to historical realities and the possibilities of political engagement (Craps 2010: 52; see also Buelens and Craps 2008: 1). The humanities had turned since the 1980s, with the rise of new historicism and cultural materialism, and of ‘advocacy criticism (feminist, lesbian and gay, Marxist and postcolonial)’ (Buelens and Craps 2008: 1), providing disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, across and beyond the humanities, for the development of trauma studies’ representation and politicization of historical experiences. That this suggests a smooth evolution to a state of ethical criticism is belied by the debates over the conceptualization of trauma that continue to shape academic enquiry.