Truth and Trauma: A documentary investigation

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Kristoffer Uhrenholdt
  • Mathias Krøyer Vejrup
4. term, Communication, Master (Master Programme)
This study aims to illuminate the fields of documentary and trauma studies, with the goal of investigating the documentary genre under the sign of trauma. Further a core concept of trauma studies; the crisis of representation, is to be explored in the multi modal medium of documentary. As such both the field of documentary theory and the field of trauma studies are under the lens of investigation. The study finds its importance in the contribution to representation theory in both these fields, shedding light on the disordered and chaotic state of the postmodern world and its relation to reality and truth. This will be done through an in-depth examination of representations of trauma narratives in three documentaries: The Act of Killing (2012), Surviving R. Kelly (2019) and Waltz with Bashir (2012). Grounded in research traditions of textual analysis, trauma studies and documentary theory, the present study is a social semiotic analysis of multimodal semiotic resources in critical sequences in a study corpus comprised of three different documentaries. The documentaries were selected for inclusion in the study corpus based on an explorative phenomenological approach. As the different theories comprising the conceptual framework all, to varying degrees, stem from post-structural philosophical backgrounds, this will serve as the epistemological perspective on the knowledge generated in the study. Through an operationalisation of the theoretical framework consisting of trauma studies, documentary theory and social semiotics, the three documentaries will be coded and analyzed in order to use the findings in a theoretical discussion. This coding will happen according to social semiotic principles of textual analysis but will also include operationalisations of trauma studies and documentary theory. The findings suggest that the representational crisis of trauma has interesting potentials of exploration in the documentary genre through verbal representation, observational representation and abstract representation. Further the findings pointed towards different potentials and issues surrounding the filmmakers pose in the creation of trauma narratives in documentaries as well as the different ways the medium itself and its conventions affected the narrative. Lastly the theme of suppression was located in the analysis, shedding light on both documentary representation and trauma representation
Publication date20 May 2020
Number of pages88
ID: 333125674