Introduction to Collective Trauma

Course leader: Dr Nino Tabeshadze
Home Institution: Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Georgia


Course pre-requisite(s): None

Course Overview

Subject Description: Collective Trauma is the painful experience caused by shocking event. Course will be oriented on the theoretical characteristics of the traumatic event. Can every painful historical happening be considered as Collective Trauma? If no what are the distinctive features of Collective Trauma. Course will start with brief historical outline of collective trauma studies. When, how and why did it begin?! Course will explore the effects of Collective Trauma – Post-traumatic stress disorder and its features as well as coping mechanisms. We will try to outline the PTSD syndrome using interdisciplinary approach. By using combined literature of psychology, philosophy and culture studies the course will aim to create wide context for understanding Collective Trauma, its impact on societies/individuals, Post-Traumatic Disorder, Coping mechanisms.

Learning Outcomes

Aim of the course is to involve students in research process and make them see the nature of Collective Trauma on practical example. Students will have an opportunity to study collective trauma in their own unique way and not to be framed by only theoretical works. Studying Collective Trauma will question many theories and might lead to new conclusions.

Course Content

1) What is Collective Trauma
2) Characteristics of Collective Trauma
3) Effects of Collective Trauma
4) PTSD and it's effects
5) Case Studies: Natural Disasters
6) Case Studies: Holocaust
7) Case Study: Wars
8) Creation of Narrative Template
9) Coping with Collective Trauma
10) What happens if we don't cope with trauma?

Instructional Method

Collective Trauma and its impact on societies will be case-based course. Students will be given cases which they need to define correctly as collective trauma and search for signs of PTSD as well as coping mechanisms. During this course students will need to use different research methods depending on their case of study. Those will be: analysis of Narratives, Monuments, Statues, Memorials, places of memory connected to collective trauma. As widely known, Places of Memory keep Collective Trauma sacred and make people attached to painful event. Taking this into consideration, study of Places of Memory gives us information about traumatic event itself.

Required Course Materials

Required readings can include:
Jeffrey Alexander - Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity
Dominick LaCapra - Writing History, Writing Trauma
Bilyana Vanyova Kostova - Workish Through Collective Trauma
E-resources like laptops might be needed for additional materials.


Passing Point 56 from 100 Attendance: 10 points; Debates: 20 points; Case Analysis: 10 points; Presentation: 20 points; Exam: 40 points.