Conference announcement: “Aftershock. Post-Traumatic Cultures since the Great War”

0,,2128164_4,00May 22nd – 24th 2013 at the University of Copenhagen


Keynote speakers

  • Professor Jay Winter, Department of History, Yale University
  • Dr Mette Bertelsen, Danish Veteran Centre, Copenhagen Denmark

Professor Michael Roper, Department of Sociology, University of Essex

Professor Simon Wessely, Professor of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and Director, Kings Centre for Military Health Research Institute of Psychiatry

Dr Sophie Delaporte, Faculty of Philosophy and Human and Social Sciences, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens

Dr. Raya Morag, Department of Communication & Journalism, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Professor Allan Young, Department of Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal

Kenynote and guest speakers – abstracts and biographies (pdf).

This cross-disciplinary conference focuses on genres of post-traumatic stress as identified and studied in military and civilian psychology, social and cultural history, and film studies as well as literary and art criticism. Body, mind and emotion inflected by time and locality should be explored together with the interconnected histories of individual (combat) and collective (civilian) aftershock.

Since the 1980s public awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder resulting from prolonged battle-field experiences has been on the rise. Indeed, the phrase Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has become part of the normal parlance both in Europe and the United States, and after the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the presence of veterans suffering from psychological wounds has become ever more apparent. Despite this public attention, these disorders and their cultural consequences still cause confusion and anxiety in Europe and the United States, both in academic and public realms. This  conference provides a forum where psychologists, military, medical and social historians and other experts from the humanities can gather to explore the familial, clinical, communal, political and cultural consequences of psychological trauma since the First World War. In order to illuminate and contextualize contemporary debates and compare different responses to trauma, the conference aims to examine historical conflicts over the origins of psychological wounds, debates concerning the social and cultural impact of trauma, and perspectives on the political significance of mental trauma in diverse historical settings.

By bringing together experts from varied fields and regions, we aim to not only strengthen scholarly methods and analysis, but also foster innovative ways of thinking about contemporary public debates over the origins and effects of war-induced traumatic illness. We plan to do this through a discussion of diverse issues, including (1) the effects of psychological trauma on historical and contemporary societies; (2) cultural assumptions and medical theories about traumatized individuals and the nature of trauma; (3) the re-integration of traumatized ex-servicemen into civilian societies, both historical and contemporary; (4) representations of traumatized men and women in political, social and cultural discourse, including art and film; (5) different perspectives on the meaning of traumatic illness and prescriptions for recovery in diverse societies.

Interdisciplinary and Cross-cultural Form:
In order to achieve this goal, the conference requires an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural and transnational breadth. Unlike earlier conferences that have addressed the theme of such conditions, ‘AfterShock’ seeks to bring together such diverse fields of inquiry as history, medicine, sociology, gender studies, literature and film studies in order to integrate our knowledge and surpass the limited ranges on any one discipline. To augment this interdisciplinarity, we also seek to bring in experts from diverse regions, so as to provide us with insights into the various national traditions and histories that evolved out of twentieth century wars and to better understand how these traditions and histories dealt with post-traumatic stress disorders. This interdisciplinary approach will enable us to integrate historical knowledge and contemporary ways of thinking about the cultural impact of traumatic illness, allowing experts from seemingly divergent specialized and chronological contexts to compare and re-consider their methods for investigating the origins, meanings and consequences of these wounds.


The conference subject is not restricted geographically. We welcome contributions from Denmark and the Nordic countries, from western, central and eastern European as well as from the Americas and elsewhere. We are also keen to promote innovative (for example comparative) methodologies, and to highlight new case studies.

Participants – abstracts (pdf).
Participants – assembled biographies (pdf).

All enquiries should be directed to

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