Documenting Stories of Trauma (Online)


SFC Mark B. Diggs, 18C, Special Forces Engineer Sergeant (U.S. Army, Retired) shares his wartime experiences with students.

In the course of their work, documentarians often encounter people and communities that have endured tragic events. It can be hard to convince survivors of trauma to open up and share their experiences. This course is designed to help students capture these stories without further traumatizing survivors by allowing them to bear witness in positive and safe environments. Trauma and memory studies have helped formalize sensitive ways to document trauma stories, and use effective methodologies for working with trauma survivors, understanding the nuances of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and properly documenting their experiences without causing undue stress. Class discussions, digital stories, and readings will span catastrophic and traumatic events, from global events (terrorist attacks, war, genocide, earthquakes, tsunamis) to regional events (hurricanes, fires, floods, school shootings) to personal events (cancer, rape, abuse, disabilities, suicide, death, accidents). This course will focus on the post-trauma evolution of the narrative and how to translate and share these narratives with others. Students will create documentary projects of their choice, which can take the form of narrative and/or photographic essays, blogs, digital stories, enhanced eBooks, photography, visual art, community-based projects, and any other medium. (12 hours/All levels)

Please note: This course is offered in an online format and will not physically meet at CDS but will have regularly scheduled virtual sessions.

Sharon D. Raynor is an associate professor of English at Johnson C. Smith University. She collaborates with the Wake Forest University Documentary Film Program on The Imagination Project: The Silence of War, a Humanities Matter grant project. She has held a visiting teaching position at Wake Forest with the English department/writing program and was a 2012 Humanities Writ Large Faculty Fellow at Duke University. She is also the recipient of the 2011–12 Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship through the Fletcher Foundation and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. She has written and directed two oral history projects with combat veterans in rural North Carolina, Breaking the Silence: The Unspoken Brotherhood of Vietnam Veterans and Soldier-to-Soldier: Men and Women Share Their Legacy of War. Raynor works extensively with Vietnam War veterans in North Carolina. Her community scholarship and publications focus on the intersections of trauma, silence, and identity in war narratives and women’s studies. She is a North Carolina native, a graduate of East Carolina University (BA, ’94; MA, ’96), and holds a Ph.D. in literature and criticism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (’03). Her work has appeared in NC Crossroads, disClosure: A Journal of Social Theory, We Wear the Mask: Paul Laurence Dunbar and the Representation of Black Identity, Cultural Studies/Critical Methodologies, Zadie Smith: Critical Essays, College Language Association Journal, the Dos Passos Review, From Around the World: Secular Authors and Biblical Perspectives, the Australian Feminist Review, and 27 Views of Charlotte: The Queen City in Prose and Poetry.

Additional information:
A late-model computer, fast internet connection, and built-in camera are recommended, though not required. Students with less than optimal hardware or internet connections are welcome to take the course, though it may be difficult to participate fully in virtual meetings.


Add Section Location Ages Grades Instructor Dates Days Times Fees Details Open