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Working Through 9/11: Literature, Film, and Memorial Culture


Admission requirements

The course "Working Through 9/11: Literature, Film, and Memorial Culture" is intended for students from a limited number of programmes. Because of the limited capacity available for each programme, all students who will enroll are placed on a waiting list. Students in the MA program in North American Studies (NAS) will have priority. The definite admission will be made according to the position on the waiting list and the number of places that will be available after the North American Studies students have been placed. In total there is room for 25 students in the seminar; the estimated number of NAS students who will follow the course is 18-20.


At the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we take this opportunity to examine how the memory of “9/11” has been politicized and mobilized into an ongoing “war on terror” that necessitated the formation of the new governmental agencies of Homeland Security, Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp (GTMO), Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Patriot Act, and the “Muslim Ban.” This interdisciplinary course will investigate, through an analysis of literary, visual, and multi-modal cultural products emerging in the two decades following the attack, what effects of 9/11 can still be seen and felt in contemporary American life. Our discussions will draw upon trauma studies, the discourse of “crisis,” and critical race theory to critically interrogate the occupation discourse that has deepened in “the Shadow of No Towers.”

Course objectives

This course explores the cultural response to the 9/11 attacks in both political and cultural contexts and aims to:

  • Explore how literature, film, visual art and other memorialization practices responded to the trauma of 9/11/01 and the ongoing trauma committed (in the name of security) in these intervening 20 years.

  • Develop students’ analytical skills through in-depth reading of texts, films, visual culture and political discourses related to 9/11, and communicating ideas in discussion, oral and written presentations, and collaborative team-work.

  • Recognize ongoing critical and theoretical debates in the field of American Studies about cultural responses to terrorism and crisis, particularly how these discourses colonize (trans)national, cultural, racialized and gendered identities.

  • Introduce students to, and help them develop a critical understanding of, trauma theory and memory studies and their relevance to the texts discussed in the course.

  • Develop students’ independent research skills, by formulating clear research questions and evaluating sources in a contemporary, multimedia environment


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • Participation in discussion online and in weekly seminar (10%)

  • Oral group presentation (15% group grade + 10% individual grade)

  • Short written assignments (reading response papers) (15%)

  • Essay proposal and 4000-4500 word research essay (50%)


The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


If the final grade is insufficient, only the research essay can be rewritten.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list



Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal