My new book on Future-Tense Trauma Cinema builds out from my prior Trauma Studies research. My specific contribution lies first in returning to the dystopian genre in the wake of 9/11 when disaster films proliferated, and in creating new sub-sets of the Sci-Fi genre pertinent to our newly terrorized era; and second, as offering a new lens, that of an expanded trauma theory, including focus on future time, to thinking through the meanings, and the cultural work, that futurist dystopian imaginaries perform. The book moves from analyzing the place of memory in political futurist film world, to looking at affects and memory in what I call the "zone of social collapse," to thinking about humanity's move into the Anthropocene Era. The last chapter, "Getting Real," explores contributions of documentaries about environmental disasters impending and already underway.
Writing this book has in some ways been transformational. I am committed to seeing how humanities disciplines might contribute to sustaining the environment. My research lead me to scholarly work about humans and the environment I might not otherwise have read: learning about the dangerous path humans are on as regards humanity’s impact on the natural world has put many of my other concerns in perspective. The fictional imaginaries I study and live with terrify me even as I feel empowered by engaging in in-depth analysis of them, figuring out underlying symptomatic anxieties in culture.
The links between the documentaries and fictional narratives I study reveal much about unconscious guilt, Freud’s death-drive, and the dangers of human psychology that Freud theorized in his own dystopia, Civilization and its Discontents, in 1929.
Department of English, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5350 - Undergraduate: 631 632-7400 | Graduate: 631 632-7373