Traumatized Bodies: The Politics and Art of Tragedy
Over the course of its history, Japan has suffered numerous catastrophes, which have taken a great toll of human suffering. Most have been the result of natural disasters--- earthquakes, tidal waves, and fires. Others are of human origin. The Pacific War eventuated in the horrific fire bombings of Japan's major cities and culminated in the atomic holocaust visited upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Industrial expansion and spiraling energy demands have left Japan vulnerable to toxic pollution-- with the Fukushima disaster and its aftermath serving as a chilling reminder of this vulnerability.
Such traumatic events are said to defy description. But they of course beg description and representation across the spectrum of themes and media.
Our Spring 2014 Mellon Seminars will consider ways in which human bodies-- and the human spirit-- have been portrayed in the context of disaster. Our speakers will approach the topic from the perspectives of art, photography, politics, international relations, and literature.