ENGL631 - Readings in 20th Century American Literature: The Literature of 9/11

This seminar will examine the literary response to the events of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath, certainly the defining event of the 21st century to date for a Western audience. We will take a close look at exemplars from the rapidly expanding canon of 9/11 novels, including efforts from Don DeLillo (Falling Man), Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), William Gibson (Pattern Recognition), Claire Messud (The Emperor's Children), H. M. Naqvi (Home Boy), Joseph O'Neill (Netherland), and Thomas Pynchon (Bleeding Edge). (This list is still tentative.) Students will also choose an additional 9/11 novel to read on their own.  We will examine selected work in other media, including the graphic arts (Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers), architecture and design (the controversy around the memorial site and rebuilding), sound (William Basinski's "Disintegration Loops"), film (The Space Between), and critical theory (Richard Grusin's Premediation). Finally we will consider the citizen narration of 9/11 through the fugitive and ephemeral texts collected in the September 11th Digital Archive, ranging from email and blogs to cell phone instant messages. Throughout, we will seek to consider the events of the day as a focalizer for the project of constructing a distinct identity for a 21st century literature both "American" and trans-national.

Requirements will include a presentation, a series of papers and/or digital projects, and a final exam.