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Dr Allen Meek

Senior Lecturer

School of English and Media Studies

Allen Meek is the author of Trauma and Media: Theories, Histories and Images (Routledge 2010) which explained how the concept of trauma has been used to understand modern media in the writings of theorists such as Freud, Benjamin, Adorno, Barthes, Derrida and Zizek. He teaches a 300 level paper called Trauma and Media which explores the role of media images in shaping our understanding of war, genocide, atrocity, terrorism and other catastrophes. He is currently researching how natural history and biology have shaped modern conceptions of cultural memory, particularly the transmission of the past by media.


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Research Expertise

Research Interests

I am researching the role of biological conceptions of society in cultural criticism, particularly with reference to catastrophes such as the Holocaust and the bombing of Hiroshima. I am specifically interested in the ways that theories of hereditary transmission and degeneration influenced discourses about the collective memory of catastrophe. How does the contemporary preoccupation with trauma in cultural criticism both respond to and reiterate earlier debates about race and human evolution? Both Freud and the Nazis were influenced by Darwin. I argue that cultural memory needs to be understood in the context of biopolitical forms of social identity and exclusionary violence.

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

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Completed Projects

Project Title: Transmission: Media, catastrophe and cultural memory

This book investigates how cultural memory in the post-World War II era has been progressively shaped by representations of catastrophic events in visual media. It focuses on particular events, such as the bombing of Hiroshima, the Vietnam War and the 9/11 attacks, which have become points of reference for cultural critics, public intellectuals and media professionals who articulate influential ideas about cultural identity. The book analyses the role of technological media and the spectacular display of violence and destruction in the redefining of collective memory in Western culture over the past 60 years. It also seeks to construct a pre-history of the role of media in transmitting shock and trauma in our contemporary era of globalized war and terror. The purpose of this research is to understand the complex social and cultural roles that media images play in defining 21st century citizenship. This project follows on from my earlier book Trauma and Media (Routledge 2010), which looked specifically at how conceptions of history and media representation have been influenced by theories of psychological trauma. The new project is focused on areas not covered by the previous book, particularly Cold War and post-Cold War ideological formations.
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Date Range: 2012 - 2012

Funding Body: Massey University

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Supervision and Teaching

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Current Doctoral Supervision

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