Matthew Kirschenbaum's Literature of 9/11 Class Creates Website

May 16, 2014

Professor Matthew Kirschenbaum's course, The Literature of 9/11, taught in Spring 2014, spent the semester reading a variety of literary responses that have emerged in the past decade, as well as since the events of the day. Their work can be viewed on The Literature of 9/11 website, which hosts an archive of discussion questions, character studies, close readings, and interviews in multimedias, including text and video. The site also features an exhibition entitled Mapping the Literature of 9/11, which keys locations and place names as given in the various works to a map.

"Because the subject matter for these novels is so contemporary we wanted to project our reading and thinking about them beyond the walls of Tawes and offer a starting point for a wider community of readers," said Kirschenbaum.

"To that end, the students wrote introductions, prepared close readings and character studies, recorded video interviews with a number of department members, and created an annotated map to visualize the locations of people and places across the various fictions they encountered. I regard their work on the Literature of 9/11 site as a strong contribution to the emerging practice of "public humanities" and I'm proud to be able to share the kind of thought and discourse that goes on in a Maryland English classroom."

Students in the class videotaped an interview for the website, as well as one additional assignment--either a character analysis or a close reading.

"I chose to make a video for the character analysis and a blog post for the close reading," said Molly Marotta, a master's student.

"We spent a good amount of time talking about mediation, so it was interesting to see the ways in which you mediate or present yourself differently on film or on 'paper.' That being said, the videos are a good source of comic relief because none of us quite knew what to do with ourselves on camera. The most rewarding part of the blog project, for me, was the fact that it can be used as a resource for high school classrooms or lower-level higher ed classrooms. When writing papers, you get the feeling that you are writing in the 'academic vacuum.' This project makes the information way more accessible."

Check out The Literature of 9/11's website here: http://lit9-11.umd.edu/