Terror in/as Global Narrative: The Aesthetics and Representation of 9/11 in the Late Age of Late Capitalism
- Liliana Naydan (University of Michigan)
Erected amid criticism in a mid-century modernist style and once the tallest buildings on the globe, New York’s Twin Towers emerged as haughty symbols of American capitalism in what Henry Luce deemed the American Century. As an event that ushered in the 21st century, the destruction of the towers marked a profound moment in American and global history. “Visually devised,” according to artist Damien Hirst, the attacks challenged notions of what counts as aesthetic representation. Certainly, they produced responses evocative of Theodor Adorno’s remark that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric,” but, paradoxically, the attacks themselves appeared as a “work of art,” to use Karlheinz Stockhausen’s controversial phrasing. As works such as Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising, Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and the international film collaboration 11’09”01 – September 11 suggest, the attacks solicited responses across modes, media, generations, and nations. Using notably aesthetic terms, Don DeLillo posits that terror like 9/11’s changed “the world narrative,” but what characterizes this new narrative in the face of the atrocity’s dramatic character? How might the burning towers influence aesthetic representation? What happens to postmodernism in the aftermath of 9/11? How do representations of the West change after 9/11, and, in turn, what characterizes emerging representations of the terrorist as what Kristiaan Versluys terms the “ultimate Other”? What distinguishes the dynamic interplay between terrorism and capitalism in fictional and non-fictional literature, film, and forms beyond and between?
SEMINAR KEYWORDS: 9/11; September 11th; terrorism; age of terror; aesthetics; representation; late capitalism