Center for Global Humanities presents 'What is Trauma in a Digital Age?'

Image of man's eyes illuminated by computer screen, with pained expression.
The event on Monday, Dec. 6, is the fifth and final lecture in the Fall 2021 season.

Upon its arrival, social media was sold to the public as a wonderful new tool to bring people together and enrich their lives. Through connecting with others, we would find deeper meaning and happiness in life. But what if social media does nothing for our personal or collective happiness, and simply increases our dependency on for-profit platforms of mutual surveillance?

A lecture at the University of New England Center for Global Humanities will examine the ways in which we express our most personal and often painful experiences online when scholar Catherine Liu presents “What is Trauma in a Digital Age?” The event will take place on Monday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. at Innovation Hall at UNE’s Portland Campus.

Liu is a professor of film and media studies at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of the books “Virtue Hoarders: The Case Against the Professional Managerial Class” and “American Idyll: Academic Anti-Elitism as Cultural Critique.” She has also published extensively on critical theory and psychoanalysis, and is author of the novel “Oriental Girls Desire Romance.”

In this lecture, Liu will discuss the ways in which our traumatic experiences are communicated, framed, and marketed in the digital age. Rather than simply condemning social media as the site that commodifies our most painful experiences, Liu will seek to situate the contemporary phenomenon of trauma narratives in the context of the 1990s, the rise of trauma studies, and the configuration of therapy by an increasingly powerful class of liberal professionals and academics. 

This fifth and final lecture of the Fall 2021 season for the Center for Global Humanities will be followed by another full slate of lectures in the Spring 2022 semester. Lectures at the Center are always free, open to the public, and streamed live online. For more information and to watch the event, please visit: