Ecologies of Trauma in World Literature

Dr. Deniz Gündoğan İbrişim

11th April, Tuesday, 16:00, classroom D113

Ecologies of Trauma in World Literature

Trauma is inherently rooted, placed based, and ecological, even if it attempts to obscure its own implications due to its psychologically oriented “unspeakable” nature. In this talk, I examine cultural trauma theory’s overlooked ecological signifiers that are employed in contemporary world literature. I argue that ecocritical language and eco-narratological lens convey a richly layered conceptual field for articulating trauma and trauma therapies in world literary studies. While both ecocriticism and cultural trauma theory are well-established fields, I suggest that the critical approaches that they revise and feed off each other have been rarely recognized and analyzed together.

In the light of this suggestion, this talk focuses on what I call “ecologies of trauma” that move beyond anthropocentric semiotics to convey traumatic encounters and practices of survivance across species, environments, entities, matter, and psychological states. I revisit contemporary world literature as a literary field and attend to its ecological narrative modes for both challenging human exceptionalism and exposing continuum that exists between humans and nonhumans. I ask: can world literature be a response-able site for demonstrating “ecologies of trauma”? Can world literature challenge the ethical vacuum in which witnessing trauma is granted as an exclusive human capacity, often imagined as a verbal act of narrativization of violence? These questions will allow us to reflect on the all-too-human character of trauma discourse and textuality. At the same time, they will encourage us to take seriously the agency of world literature in creating alternate and plural worlds. In this way, this talk will foreground trauma’s multidirectional and plural registers beyond narrowly psychoanalytic models that claim universality but ignore important historical, cultural, and ecological factors.

Deniz Gündoğan İbrişim is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Postdoctoral Fellow (MSCA Fellow) at Sabancı University at the Gender and Women’s Studies Center of Excellence (SU Gender). She serves as an official member of management committee for Turkey in the Cost Action Project: CA20105 – Slow Memory: Transformative Practices for Times of Uneven and Accelerating Change (2021-2025). She serves as the Grant Writing Coordinator in this action.

Gündoğan İbrişim received her BA in English Literature from Istanbul University and earned her two MA degrees in Gender Studies and Literature respectively from Istanbul University and Central European University. Before pursing her PhD, she worked as a senior lecturer at ITU School of Foreign Languages (2002-2014). As a recipient of Fulbright PhD Scholarship, she completed her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Washington University. As a comparatist literary scholar by training, Gündoğan İbrişim specializes in cultural trauma and memory studies, gender and sexuality studies, postcolonial theory, 20th and 21st century literature, ecofeminism, and environmental humanities. Her research has been supported by the COST Action, the Fulbright-IIE, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminars, The Institute for World Literature (IWL) and several Washington University fellowships. She is the co-author of Gaflet: Modern Türkçe Edebiyatın Cinsiyetçi Sinir Uçları (English: NegligenceThe Sexist Nerve Endings of Modern Literature in Turkish, Metis Publishing, 2019). Her work has appeared in journals such as European Review, The Journal of World Literature (BRILL), Intertexts, Memory Studies, MonografNotosVarlıkBirikim, as well as edited volumes including The Routledge Companion to Literature and TraumaAnimals, Plants, and Landscapes: An Ecology of Turkish Literature and FilmWomen’s Subaltern Studies; Mapping World Anglophone Studies: English in a World of Strangers; Mesafeyi ramak: 2010’lu Yılların Romanları Üzerine; Bahçelerinde Yaz: Füruzan Edebiyatı Üzerine; Feminist Eleştiri: Arayışlar ve Müzakereler. Gündoğan İbrişim’s research/teaching is shaped by values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is committed to making higher education accessible, inspiring, and a meaningful tool for justice for all students. She is currently working on her monograph on the poetics and politics of ecological witnessing in contemporary world literature (under contract with Routledge; Routledge Series in Comparative Literature).