"9/11 as Catalyst: American and British Cultural Responses"
November 27-29, 2009
The conference investigated North American and British cultural responses to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, and to the social, political and cultural effects that have developed in their wake – including further attacks such as the ones in Madrid (2004), London (2005), and Mumbay (2008). While official political discourse was dominated by the notion of 9/11 as a historical rupture and by the conceptualization of a “War on Terror” that had to be fought with military force abroad and by curbing civil liberties at home, a close look at a wider spectrum of texts and discourses reveals that responses to the attacks and to the impact of terrorism in general have been much more diverse and complex. Whether the events of 9/11 mark a historical caesura or not – a contested claim that was among the key issues at stake at the conference –, they certainly had a catalytic effect on the cultural production in various media: in literature, in the theater, in the news media, in film and television, in the realms of music and dance. This cultural production shows the first contours of a cultural memory that has symbolically negotiated experiences of shock, trauma, and commemoration as well as the various political, social and economic developments in our post-9/11 world. The papers presented addressed first wave responses to the attacks as well as second wave responses of the years following; they focused on their participation in the shaping of discourses of terror(mindedness), fear, violence, mourning, religion, nationalism, civil liberties, migration and globalization; they explored how a diversity of ethnic, racial, and gendered perspectives have explored the diffusion of public and private sphere and how they have revisited (and revised) national narratives of identity formation; and they discussed the aesthetic repercussions 9/11 and the “War on Terror” have had on the aesthetic and conceptual notions of postmodernism.
Sarah Giese, M.A. (Univ. of Bayreuth), Prof. Dr. Sylvia Mayer, (Univ. of Bayreuth), Dr. Dunja Mohr (Univ. of Erfurt) (Co-organizers)