The Literature of 9/11


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This site is the collective work of a graduate English course entitled The Literature of 9/11 that was taught in the Spring 2014 semester at the University of Maryland in College Park, just outside of Washington DC. The course was devoted to reading a small sampling of the wide range of literary responses (mainly novels, but other genres and forms too) that have emerged in the decade plus since the events of the day. The full syllabus is available as a PDF.

The students in the class--Masters or doctoral candidates in  literature, comparative literature, and creative writing, as well as one intrepid undergraduate--are responsible for the content, which comes in a variety of forms. In the Titles section, each individual work we read and discussed has an introduction detailing aspects of its publication and reception history, as well as questions for discussion, character studies, close readings of specific episodes, and interviews with individuals not part of the class. Some of this material is written, and some of it takes the form of short videos. In addition, we have prepared an exhibition entitled Mapping the Literature of 9/11 which keys locations and place names as given in the various works to a map for purposes of comparing the literary geographies different authors have limned for 9/11.

We present this material in the hopes that a wide range of readers--from College Park and beyond--will find it timely, relevant, and engaging. It is an exemplar of what is increasingly called public humanities, whose ethos may be explored further here.

"The writer wants to understand what this day has done to us. . . . The writer tries to give memory, tenderness, and meaning to all that howling space."

--Don DeLillo, "In the Ruins of the Future" (December, 2001)