English R1B

Reading and Composition: �If it had been a movie, I wouldn�t have believed it�: Culture, Politics & Narrative After 9/11

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Fall 2006 Annie McClanahan
TTh 8-9:30 109 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Art Spiegelman, In the Shadow of No Towers

Diana Hacker, Rules for Writers 5th edition

25th Hour (film directed by Spike Lee; to be screened in class)

And a required course reader containing Joyce Carol Oates� �The Mutant�, David Foster Wallace�s �The Suffering Channel�, speeches by President Bush and former New York Mayor Rudolph Guilliani, newspaper clippings, and selections from some of the following texts: An Eye for an Eye: Poets on 9/11 (Parenti); After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era (Brill); As the Towers Fell: Stories of Unshakeable Faith on 9/11 (Chilson-Rose); Moral Philosophy After 9/11 (Margolis); After 9/11: A Korean Girl�s Sexual Journey (Cha); 9/11: Artists Respond (Eisner); Portraits 9/11/01: The Collected New York Times �Portraits of Grief� (Raines, ed.); The 9/11 Commission Report (9/11 Commission); 9/11 Ashes to Ashes Dust to DNA (Flowers); Film and Television After 9/11 (Dixon); Lamentation 9/11 (Doctorow); Above Hallowed Ground: A Photographic Record of September 11, 2001."


"Individual responses to the events of September 11th, 2001 made surprisingly frequent reference to film and narrative: unable to describe the attacks any other way, we either noted their similarity to particular films, or we described our shock by saying, as the title of this course puts it, �If it had been a movie, I wouldn�t have believed it.� We�ll begin this class by looking at a few pre-9/11 films that seem to weirdly �predict� the attacks, and then look at the immediate responses to 9/11, especially the way the attacks were mobilized in political rhetoric. We�ll then be prepared to consider representations of and in the aftermath of September 11 th in fiction, poetry, essays, photography and film, as well as in public discourse (such as the controversy surrounding the WTC memorials). What are the available literary, narrative, or cultural forms for describing events we couldn�t imagine? What comes in the aftermath of national or personal trauma? Do we seek something different in literature after experiencing a �nightmarish� reality? How do we properly memorialize national tragedies, and what political questions do these memorials raise?

And of course we�ll also be thinking about, talking about, and doing a lot of writing! The goal of R1B is to equip you with the skills needed to read, analyze, and write about literature and culture effectively, and to refine your skills in using research and evidence to construct persuasive expository essays. We�ll begin with a series of short, informal or creative in-class writing exercises designed to develop close-reading and critical thinking skills. After getting our muscles stretched with these shorter papers, we�ll shift to the long-distance running of longer and more argumentative expository papers, essays for which you�ll be free to develop both a topic and a set of research sources/primary texts according to your own interests and/or academic discipline. (Sample topics could include controversies over memorialization; 9/11 and the Iraq war in political discourse; WTC insurance battles; historic responses to other national crises in the U.S. ; international reaction; 9/11 and the internet; conspiracy theories and much, much more!) These essays will go through an extensive drafting process, both in peer workshop groups and in one-on-one meetings with me. "

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