Trauma Narratives and the Ethics of Reading

Saulkrasti, Latvia, 26 July–2 August, 2017

The research circle Narrative and Memory: Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics is pleased to announce the call for its 2017 summer symposium, following its inaugural symposium in Tallinn (Estonia) in March 2017.

The summer symposium will discuss the specific ethical and aesthetic issues raised by trauma narratives. Trauma narratives attempt to communicate suffering which is sometimes at the edge of representability and barely comprehensible to those who have not lived through it. We shall examine the aesthetic means which have been adopted to confront this problem and the ethical challenge which trauma narratives pose, as they radically bring into question our responsibility as readers, scholars, subjects, and citizens. The symposium explores the current state of the field of trauma studies and its intersections with memory studies and narrative studies.

We invite reflections on the ethical and political questions related to the narration and reception of trauma in all artistic and memorial media. How is the story of trauma to be told and understood? Who has the right or the responsibility to narrate the horrors of war, violence, displacement and re-location? What is the responsibility of those who are not primary victims, but who witness or receive the stories of atrocity? What are the gains and risks of attending to the trauma of others? What are the benefits and limits of the concept of trauma in addressing legacies of violence in the contemporary world? How should we rethink the notion of trauma in the light of recent discussions about the inadequacy of the perpetrator–victim binary in dealing with these legacies? We have no pre-established view of the answers to these and related questions. The aim of the symposium is rather to promote debate in the expectation that beneficial effects are more likely to follow from open, informed discussion than public silence. We welcome both theoretical interventions and studies of particular instances of trauma, its narration and reception. ‘Reading’ should be understood in the broad sense as including all forms of reception and interaction, such as spectatorship, interviewing, conversation and secondary witnessing.

We encourage participants to craft their presentations in the format that they find most suitable. However, please note that the maximum duration of each presentation, including time for follow-up discussion, will be 40 minutes, and we expect most presentations to be max. 20 minutes. Those who wish to attend the symposium without giving a presentation are welcome to apply, but we encourage everyone to contribute actively to the group by reading participant papers and taking part in collective discussions. Priority is given to applicants who will present their work.

Please send a proposal (max. 300 words) and a short biographical statement to Prof. Hanna Meretoja ( and Prof. Colin Davis ( If you would like to attend the symposium without presenting your work, please send us a biographical statement and briefly explain your interest in participating.

The deadline for submission is 1 May, 2017. The preliminary program will be announced in mid-May at There you will also find more information about NSU and may sign up for the newsletter.

Practical information about the Nordic Summer University Summer Session

In the summer session, all the study circles of the NSU hold their symposia at a shared location, which offers additional possibilities for cross-fertilisation and dialogue between the thematic networks. The summer session is centrally organised by the NSU/ARRKOM.


The summer session 2017 will be held in Saulkrasti, Latvia. Saulkrasti is a historical sea resort situated on the Baltic Sea, 50 kilometers from Riga. The summer session 2017 will be held in Minhauzena Unda, a holiday accommodation in the middle of a pine forest, less than a five-minute walk from the sandy beach seaside. The hotel got its name from the world’s biggest liar, Baron von Munchausen. The location is within easy reach, approximately 1 hour from Riga city centre by bus or train. More information about the hotel can be found here:

Registration and payment

(1) Application (submission of proposals) closes on the 1st of May.

(2) Once your proposal has been accepted, you must go through registration and payment which close on the 1st of June. All registration and payment will be done electronically.

Scholarship program

NSU provides a number of scholarships for students and grants for others in need of a subsidy in order to attend the summer session. The application period is from 1-15 April. For information see Please note that people who receive grants and scholarships are expected to help ARRKOM with small tasks like writing blog posts, sharing their experience, distributing information if needed, and helping out with setting up and cleaning up the picnic.


PhD and MA students are eligible for up to five ECTS points for participation and presentation of a paper. See also:

Parents with children

We welcome families at the Summer Session. As in previous years, there will be a separate circle for children between 3 and 15 years. In the children’s circle, we offer a variety of activities for children and youth, running parallel to the other study circles. See also:

Keynote speakers

Sigríður Þórgeirsdóttir, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Iceland. She specializes in the philosophy of Nietzsche, feminist philosophy and philosophy of nature and embodiment. More information of her research and publications is found from her website:

Cecilia Malmström Olsson, who received a doctorate in literature from Lund University in 1993, with special focus on Dance Studies. She is a freelance dance researcher, writer, lecturer, and has been active in dance, culture, and education over the last thirty years in Sweden, Scandinavia, Europe and the US. Her research focus is on dance and aesthetics, dance and politics from different perspectives, such as identity, gender, race, and power relations.

Cost and accommodation

There is a limited amount of rooms in Munchhausen Hotel, therefore we will also offer accommodation for participants in 2 or 4 bed caravans that will be located right next to the main buildings in a forested camp-like environment surrounded by nature. Participants who stay in caravans will be able use bathroom facilities/showers in the main buildings. Total cost per adult person ranges from 80 – 550 € depending on the kind of accommodation you choose.

– Staying in a caravan: from 80 € to 150 €.

– Staying in the hotel building: from 200 € to 550 €.

Grant and scholarship holders will be given a place in caravans. Cost for grant holders is 60 € and for scholarship holders 40 €. The total cost per child from ages 4-14 years old is 150 €. Children under the age of 4 pay 50 € even if they share a room with the parent. More detailed information about the summer session will be sent out in the April newsletter.