Politics and poetics in post-9/11 US and UK fiction, 2003–2008
2019-06-26T07:38:59Z (GMT) by
In this thesis I aim to make a distinctive contribution to the growing body of scholarship on the post-9/11 Anglophone novel. In each of four main chapters, which follow a substantial Introduction that seeks to contextualise the case studies to come by examining political, military, philosophical and artistic responses to the attacks and their aftermath, I offer analysis of two texts taken from either US or UK fiction. My principal intentions are twofold: firstly, to offer a multifaceted assessment of the post-9/11 novel, identifying some of its most significant formal and thematic variants and evaluating the ideological implications of these; secondly, to engage dialogically with the existing critical archive, for example by assessing the argument of Richard Gray and others that post-9/11 novels have tended – with politically regressive effects – to ‘domesticate’ their deeply troubling subject matter.
The sequence of chapters is designed to move successively outwards from the events of September 11th. Thus, Chapter One is concerned with novelistic responses to the destruction of the Twin Towers itself, and it takes as its case studies Falling Man (2007) by Don DeLillo and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005) by Jonathan Safran Foer. Chapters Two and Three are both concerned with fictional assessments of the impact of 9/11 and its aftermath upon particular population groups. In Chapter Two I explore representations of the post-9/11 condition of the ‘white privileged’, using as my examples Saturday (2005) by Ian McEwan and The Emperor’s Children (2006) by Claire Messud; while in Chapter Three, in readings of Netherland (2008) by Joseph O’Neill and Brick Lane (2003) by Monica Ali, I explore subaltern or marginal perspectives that have often struggled for representational and discursive power in the face of hegemonic Western responses to 9/11. Chapter Four builds upon the preceding chapter by focusing upon representations of the figure of the terrorist himself and assessing what The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) by Mohsin Hamid and Terrorist (2006) by John Updike have to tell us about Islamic radicalisation in the modern era. These last two case studies also allow us to consider the historical and geographical range of the post-9/11 novel, since they resist interpretation of the events of September 11th as singular and localised happenings (an unfortunate tendency that is reinforced in much of the official response to 9/11).