About the Introduction to Trauma Theology course
This short online course offers an introduction to the burgeoning field of trauma theology. Since the beginning of the 21st century, theologians have been increasingly taking trauma seriously in terms of the ways in which we do theology and the ways in which we read the biblical narratives. Recognising the specific nature of a trauma experience, theologians have been concerned with what impact this has on theology.
The first part of the class will cover trends in theology and the second part, a more descriptive of the effects of trauma with active participation of the participants’ engagement with scripture and affiliated practices, i.e. the Eucharist.
We will encounter two key texts for trauma theology: Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining, by Shelly Rambo; and, Suffering and Salvation in Ciudad Juárez by Nancy Pinea Madrid. We will unpack some central ideas including the motif of Holy Saturday, the question of whether Jesus is a trauma survivor, and the significance of the Eucharist in trauma theology. We also will discuss how biblical texts address suffering while responding to trauma, exploring how these texts and affiliated practices guide the process of remembering, support expressions of grief, and facilitate reintegration into the world.
About the Tutor
Stephanie Arel has written widely on the concept of trauma and theology, working with groups around the globe to help both individuals and institutions understand the ramifications of trauma in order to build resilient communities.
Her research focuses on the pastoral theological practices around trauma, shame, and empathy. Her most recent projects address the practices of commemoration in memorial museums and how those who mediate human memory and suffering offer a model for what it means to care for the other. Her book, Bearing Witness: The Wounds of Mass Trauma at Memorial Museums (Fortress 2023), is an ethnographic exploration of workers at international sites commemorating mass trauma considering their possible interpretation as public, pastoral theologians.
Arel is also author of Affect Theory, Shame and Christian Formation (Palgrave Macmillan 2016) and co-editor with Shelly Rambo of Post-Traumatic Public Theology (Palgrave Macmillan 2016). She also edited and contributed to Ideology and Utopia in the Twenty-First Century (Lexington 2018) and Probing Human Dignity: Exploring Thresholds from an Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Springer 2024).
Arel holds a certificate in treatment for trauma in the clinical setting from the New York Institute in Psychoanalysis and teaches at Fordham University in New York City offering a core course: Scripture and the Human Response to Trauma.