Before and after 9/11: American Literature and Culture

full name / name of organization: 
Emma Kimberley, University of Leicester
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Call for papers
Before and after 9/11: American Literature and Culture
A one-day conference at the University of Leicester
Friday 18 June 2010

Keynote Speaker: Professor Liam Kennedy, Director of the Clinton Institute for American Studies, University College Dublin

The twenty-year span from the end of the Cold War to 2009, a period that has 9/11 almost at its mid-point, has been a fertile one for American literature. Especially in the wake of 9/11 and the "war on terror" writers have re-engaged with politics: recent writing has commented on Guantanamo, the political responses to 9/11, the war of image and rhetoric waged by the government against the American people and America's role in Iraq. Environmental and cultural policies have also seen increased attention. Political decisions after 9/11 have had an undeniable impact on contemporary literature and visual representation, but can these art-forms exert any influence in return?

The relationship between word and image has also come under examination in this period of reassessment. A generation of creative and critical thinkers have begun to chart the difficult moral and ethical territory of the responsibilities inherent in any act of representation after 9/11. Critics argue that political responses to 9/11 have created a 'Culture of Fear' that "limits our intellectual and moral capacities, it turns us against others, it changes our behavior and perspective"[1] This culture has encouraged acts of resistance in both literary and visual expression.

We invite papers that investigate any aspect of American literature's engagement with the politics surrounding 9/11, from Canada and Latin America as well as the United States. We are especially interested in papers that explore formal and ideological developments in American writing across this period, either through the investigation of changing priorities and themes or through developments in the work of specific authors, and in those that look at the impact of visual culture on American writing.

Papers could address:

• American writing and/or visual culture after 9/11
• The use of word and image to manipulate public opinion
• Responses to the images of 9/11 and the Iraq war
• Writing about the environment or the construction of cultural memory
• Resistance through formal innovation
• The theory and ethics of representation after 9/11

Please submit 200 word proposals for 20 minute papers to Emma Kimberley ( by 30th January 2010.