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CAS 420-DB: Terrorism and Literature: 20 Years After 9/11

Political terrorism has been a literary subject for over 150 years, involving writers like Dostoevsky in Russia and Joseph Conrad in England, Liam O’Flaherty in Ireland. In America, however, the 9/11/2001 attacks on the twin towers in NYC refocused the issue in stark, almost personal terms. The twentieth anniversary of that event in 2021 highlighted just how powerfully this attack affected the contemporary literary imagination. If one function of literature is to help us make sense of the incomprehensible, then surveying how writers have tried to do that since 2001 should help us to gain some understanding of this phenomenon. We will work initially to derive a useful, commonly accepted set of terms and definitions for the topic and them move into the literature, ranging from Don DeLillo to Doris Lessing to Ahmed Saadawi.