Trauma at the Movies: Cinematic Memories of Columbine


  • Johannes Vith University of Innsbruck



Columbine High School shooting, trauma film, Bowling for Columbine (film), Elephant (film), trauma studies, Columbine, school shootings


The Columbine High School shooting of 1999 has become a cultural icon for school shootings in the United States and beyond. Still, there are only a few cinematic adaptations of it. This article addresses how these movies nonetheless impact the culture of remembering Columbine. It argues that films about Columbine use different strategies to mediate the trauma of the shooting that are closely related to framing or recreating trauma. In addition, as traumatic events such as Columbine often lack clear causes and effects, this article will argue that film is particularly effective in mediating trauma.

Author Biography

Johannes Vith, University of Innsbruck

Johannes Vith is OeAD Austrian Lector in the School of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics (German Section) at the University of Limerick, Ireland, and a PhD candidate in the Department of American Studies at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. His research interests are film studies, trauma cinema, ecocriticism, and science fiction. He was a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio (2019-2020) and a university assistant at the University of Innsbruck (2020-2023). 




How to Cite

Vith, Johannes. “Trauma at the Movies: Cinematic Memories of Columbine”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 24, no. 1, Aug. 2023, pp. 90-106, doi:10.5283/copas.375.