Literary, film, and new media responses to post-9/11 American representations of terrorism and fundamentalism



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This dissertation was born out of a desire to inquire into the ways in which the literary arts imagine or fail to imagine 9/11 within the context of globalization. Recent scholarship on 9/11 fiction has argued that it is a mistake to read 9/11 literature exclusively in a US context and that a transnational perspective provides insight into geopolitical issues associate with the War on Terror. The dissertation connects the literary and the social, examining how literary, film, and new media texts related to 9/11 illuminate issues of globalization, global capitalism, and state-sanctioned violence alongside the issue of global terrorism that dominates much of the public discourse surrounding 9/11 and the wars waged in response. It begins by analyzing American and South Asian 9/11 fiction that, to varying extents, elucidates the imbrication of American nationalism with free market fundamentalism and the displacement of American societal ills onto an imaginary figure of the Muslim terrorist. It moves from analysis of the more sanitized violence of global capitalism to state-sanctioned violence and neocolonialism, including the War on Terror and its justifications, considering how this literary 9/11 fiction regards state-sanctioned violence and neocolonialism as pressing issues of global violence alongside terrorism. Along these lines of thought, the dissertation also examines documentary films on US military torture scandals in Afghanistan and Iraq that both critique and unintentionally perpetuate different American exceptionalism narratives that have been used to justify the highly controversial US-led War on Terror. Finally, it examines Islamic feminist websites in the US and UK as counter-discourses to Islamophobia and the use of representations of oppressed Muslim women as a justifying factor for invasion of Muslim-majority countries. Through the lens of responses to American nationalist rhetoric surrounding 9/11, this dissertation aims to further explicate the global consequences of this limited discourse and to illuminate alternatives to it.

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Post 9/11 literature, Terrorism, Fundamentalism, Neoliberalism, Neocolonialism, Transnational feminism, Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo