Meet the Fellows: 2018 Women’s Studies Fellow Angela Carter

The Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies is the only national dissertation award for doctoral work on issues of women and gender. The 2018 Fellows include Angela Carter, a Ph.D. candidate in gender, women, and sexuality studies at the University of Minnesota. The award will support Angela’s final year of dissertation writing, titled Disabling PTSD: Toward a Crip Critique of PTSD.

Angela describes the familial and personal experiences that helped shape her dissertation topic:

Like so many others, I carry legacies of trauma that go back generations. My Oma, or great-grandmother, was a single mother of five in Hitler’s Germany. My grandmother, a little girl with haunting memories of that war, later became an American when she married my grandfather, a Vietnam veteran who came home but never came home. My mother, their daughter, escaped that home life fraught with addiction and violence, only later to find herself in another. We left that life when I was 10, but the thing about trauma is that it never really leaves you. Then, when I was 20, my car was hit by a semi-truck. Afterward, while I was just trying to figure out how be alive again, everyone around me needed me to stay positive! To overcome! To inspire! And, always, to talk with them about the meaning of life. It was as though the whole world knew the script and all I needed to do was say my lines. But with every word, I felt more and more erased.

Eventually I finished college, and when I got to graduate school, this erasure became my dissertation project. In my research, I look at how we understand trauma in America after 9/11. By looking at how these understandings of trauma and PTSD do–or don’t–consider race, class, gender, sexuality, ability and citizenship, I argue that our contemporary understandings do more harm than good, particularly for the most vulnerable people in American society. While it might seem good to “raise awareness,” these conversations often limit how we understand trauma, what counts as trauma, who can claim trauma, and how we imagine healing, both personally and collectively. Using intersectional feminist, queer, and disability theories, I approach this project in order to, hopefully, to make life a bit more livable for us all.


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