If “the past is never dead,” as Faulkner wrote, how does it continue to live on? How do its ghosts continue to haunt the political present? Can these ghosts be exorcised or does one have to learn to live with them? These questions become especially urgent and consequential in the aftermath of war and catastrophe, as writers and artists confront the legacy of violence and try to memorialize annihilated bodies and spaces. The aesthetic modes they choose to address both the dead and the living and the ways in which they narrate the past have political consequences for the future. We will explore and try to answer these questions by reading a selection of texts (fiction, poetry, film, and visual art) as sites and acts of mourning. Our main focus will be on Iraq, but we will also read works from and about Armenia, Palestine, Lebanon, and the US. Readings will include Benjamin, Boulus, Butler, Darwish, Derrida, Freud, Khoury, Morrison, and Youssef.