Things I’ve been reading (and loving)

This week marked the final semester of my undergraduate study at university. I find this simultaneously scary and exciting; it provides a glimpse into the real world, yet I still find myself amidst the safe perimeter of university life. Third year thus far has been enjoyable. I’m lucky to have taken some fantastic, thought provoking modules on my English Literature course. A highlight has been Post-9/11 Literatures of the U.S, which has enabled me to study a variety of post-9/11 texts alongside a variety of philosophical and political texts addressing 9/11 and the ‘War on Terror’ that followed. I have particularly enjoyed Don DeLillo’s Falling Man, a novel with an almost circular narrative, which explores the impact of the attacks using a plethora of characters and concepts. The final chapter is particularly hard-hitting, providing what one could mistakenly assume to be an accurate description of the very moment the plane hits the first of the towers to be attacked. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, though perhaps not strictly a post-9/11 novel as it doesn’t address the attacks specifically, imagines and creates a post-apocalyptic American landscape where one assumes human conflict to be the contributing factor. It follows a nameless father and son, journeying down a road amidst the barren and desolate land. Save for a few precious relics of a life they once knew, the country is completely unrecognisable, and thus survival becomes increasingly difficult for the two. The narrative is littered with unimaginable horrors, yet the enduring love between father and son keeps them moving on the road. I was also introduced to  Jean Baudrillard’s  The Spirit of Terrorism, and Slavoj Žižek’s Welcome to the Desert of the Real. Each provided very interesting seminar discussion, and allowed us to analyse the novels on the module with alternative theories. Judith Butler’s Violence, Mourning, Politics further added to this, and much like Baudrillard’s and Žižek’s work, became a highlight of my studies on the module. We were also lucky enough to participate in a skype call with Alissa Torres, author of graphic novel American Widow. American Widow is an autobiographical work, documenting Alissa’s life before and after her husband’s death on 9/11. Intensely moving and in an unusual and interesting format, the book provides an alternative means of documenting the impact of 9/11 itself; something that has perhaps proved challenging to render into words. Below I will provide a list of texts I studied on the module. I recommend each and every one of them. Some address the attacks directly, whilst some provide an alternative critique of the occurence of 9/11 and the events that followed as a consequence.

The Submission, Amy Waldman

The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mosin Hamid

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer

The Road, Cormac McCarthy

The Road

American Widow, Alissa Torres, drawn by Sungyoon Choi

Falling Man, Don DeLillo

The Mutants, Joyce Carol Oates (short story)

The Things they Left Behind, Stephen King (short story)

The Spirit of Terrorism, Jean Baudrillard

Welcome to the Desert of the Real, Slavoj Žižek

‘Violence, Mourning, Politics’, Judith Butler

Holy Terror, Terry Eagleton

Do share any thoughts you have, it’s really interesting to hear from you. I hope you have a fantastic weekend!


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