Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Trauma, Narrative, and The Discovery of Self: Dying and Death in the Shaping of Character

Prof. Marlene Benjamin.

Many recognize that traditional, analytic philosophy, caricatured as “male”, and personal, or literary, narrative, often couched in, and concerned with, the language and experience of the body, and dismissed as “female”, are distinct modes of inquiry, each offering their own particular lessons, each suffering from methodologically-specific limitations. Many also note that a combination of the two can, especially in cases of extremity, better inform our understanding of the relationship between character formation and the good human life. Most such recognition itself comes in the form of philosophical analysis alone. Yet demonstration of how the combination may achieve its conceived results is not often attempted, precisely because the spaces between the two forms of inquiry are viewed as distinct. But such demonstration, an actual, rather than hypothetical, combination of both forms of inquiry can more powerfully “make the argument”, opening the way to a kind of philosophizing more suited to the issues at stake and to the human experiences themselves. TRAUMA, NARRATIVE, and THE DISCOVERY OF SELF attempts this kind of demonstration.


Prof. Marlene Benjamin  (United States)
Department of Political Science
Stonehill College

Marlene Benjamin’s strong interdisciplinary interests date from her undergraduate work in the “Great Books Program” at St. John's College. Her Ph.D. is from Brandeis University. She has taught at Clark, UMASS/Boston, Harvard University’s Extension School, and at Richmond College in London. Benjamin is the recipient of a number of awards and honors. Her current project, THE CATASTROPHIC SELF, examines three routes by which the self re-conceptualizes itself and operates in response to the embodied experience of catastrophic illness.

  • Trauma Narrative
  • Analytic Philosophy
  • Human Flourishing

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)