Fiona Clancy is a PhD candidate and Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholar at the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, University College Cork, where she is researching under the supervision of Dr Cara Levey and Professor Nuala Finnegan. Having completed her MRes thesis on contemporary Spanish cinema, Fiona’s doctoral research focuses on recent work by Argentine film directors, including Lucrecia Martel, Pablo Trapero and Albertina Carri. The working title of her doctoral thesis is Trauma and the Moral Subject in the Globalized Age: Contemporary Argentine Cinema.
PhD Project Description
Over the past two decades, cinematic production from Argentina has been enjoying increased commercial success and critical acclaim on the international film scene. This trend has been accompanied by a growing body of scholarly work on Argentine cinema (Falicov 2007; Page 2009; Aguilar 2011; Andermann 2012). A considerable number of films that have emerged as part of this new wave of Argentine cinema portray powerfully the complex dynamics of physical and psychological trauma. Drawing on Kaplan and Wang’s assertion that ‘the humanistic study of trauma needs to initiate a broader socio-historical understanding of the destructive forces of the modern world’ (2008: 16), my project will offer multifaceted readings of recent Argentine cinema, which explore the moral and ethical complexities that frequently accompany personal (in the sense of both private and bodily) trauma in the work of Lucrecia Martel, Albertina Carri and Pablo Trapero, three seminal directors whose films display both contrasts and similarities in their representations of trauma.
The project considers two key facets of trauma: the bodily and the psychological. The former addresses the cinematic representation of bodies by engaging with theories on bioethics, violence and pain (Scarry 1985; Butler 2004; Shapshay 2009), in order to scrutinise the link between trauma and corporality. The latter examines the psychological dimensions of trauma, and explores how the aftermath and ongoing fallout of traumatic experiences are represented in films by engaging with theories on psychoanalysis and memory (Caruth 1995, 1996; Kaplan 2005, 2008). Drawing on ‘shock’ theories (Klein 2007; Thakkar 2011, 2014) as a means of negotiating the physical and psychological spheres, the study will demonstrate how these two dimensions of trauma are interconnected and, in this way, expose the various ways in which violence remains present in society, continually proliferating in subtle forms.