University of Limerick
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Increasing the volume on post-9/11 literature

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posted on 2022-12-15, 11:50 authored by Clair King-Sheehan
The intention of this study has been to engage directly with several major novels that appeared in the wake of the fall of the Twin Towers. Although it is concerned with the trauma of the 9/11 events, its main interest is with the narratives’ more elusive political voices. It will evaluate work of highly regarded authors whose novels are closely associated with the 9/11 era. It will examine how they spoke out or evaded the issues being presented in the media of the time. The texts most recognisable as 9/11 narratives, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Don DeLillo’s Falling Man, will be analysed in order to interpret how they directly engaged with the issues of the day and their immediate aftermath. While it is easy to see how Foer’s novel might be useful in working through the trauma, this research has imagined another perspective from which to view 9/11 using this novel as a vehicle. And although DeLillo’s Falling Man provides an accurate fictional portrayal of the experience, it does not overtly display the political prescience of this writer’s previous work. In Terrorist, John Updike moved beyond the actual day and tried to help the American people visualise the experience from outside the conventional U.S. demographic. However, his novel faltered in its mission to accurately represent the “othered” character within U.S. Society. Barbara Kingsolver’s allegorical comparison of the Bush administration and the reprehensible mid-twentieth century McCarthy period is perhaps the most politically motivated text examined here. Nevertheless the dense layer of historical-political allegory she employs manages to conceal the voice which on previous occasions had proved strident in defence of what she believed. This study argues that the politics of the era caused writers to constrain their political viewpoints in their definitive novels on the subject of 9/11.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Coughlan, David





Department or School

  • Scoil na Gaeilge, an Bhéarla, agus na Cumarsáide | School of English, Irish, and Communication

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