The City Since 9/11: Literature, Film, Television
Keith Wilhite, Catalina Florina, Florescu, Karolina Golimowska, Steve Macek, Justin St. Clair
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Charting the intersection of aesthetic representation and the material conditions of urban space, The City Since 9/11 posits that the contemporary metropolis provides a significant context for reassessing theoretical concerns related to narrative, identity, home, and personal precarity. In the years since the September 11 attacks, writers and filmmakers have explored urban spaces as contested sites—shaped by the prevailing discourses of neoliberalism, homeland security, and the war on terror, but also haunted by an absence in the landscape that registers loss and prefigures future menace. In works of literature, film, and television, the city emerges as a paradoxical space of permanence and vulnerability and a convergence point for anxieties about globalization, structural inequality, and apocalyptic violence.
Building on previous scholarship addressing trauma and the spectacle of terror, the contributors also draw upon works of philosophy, urban studies, and postmodern geography to theorize how literary and visual representations expose the persistent conflicts that arise as cities rebuild in the shadow of past ruins. Their essays advance new lines of argument that clarify art’s role in contemporary debates about spatial practices, gentrification, cosmopolitanism, memory and history, nostalgia, the uncanny and the abject, postmodern virtuality, the politics of realism, and the economic and social life of cities.
The book offers fresh readings of familiar post-9/11 novels, such as Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, but it also considers works by Teju Cole, Joseph O’Neill, Silver Krieger, Colum McCann, Ronald Sukenick, Jonathan Lethem, Thomas Pynchon, Colson Whitehead, Paul Auster, William Gibson, Amitav Ghosh, and Katherine Boo. In addition, The City Since 9/11 includes essays on the films Children of Men, Hugo, and the adaptation of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, chapters on the television series The Bridge, The Killing, and The Wire, and an analysis of Michael Arad’s Reflecting Absence and the 9/11 Memorial.
future for this plot of land, and “the fate of art in a democracy.” 25 Protesters and supporters of the winning design, entitled “The Garden,” clash in the streets of Manhattan. It is a capacious novel with intersecting storylines and a diverse cast of mostly stock characters. One of the more compelling subplots concerns Asma Anwar, an undocumented Bangladeshi who becomes an outspoken advocate of Khan’s design. Her husband was among the many undocumented immigrants to die in the World Trade
spaces in a globalised world . . . as zombies have become phantasmal stand-ins for Islamist terrorists, illegal immigrants, carriers of foreign contagions, and other ‘dangerous’ border crossers.” 12 Angry, unappeasable others are reflections of a nagging sense (primarily felt by the privileged and the advantaged living in the First World) that things are becoming increas- 114 Tim S. Gauthier ingly desperate in a greater number of places across the globe, and that living in such conditions
or future. 25 Noriko’s relation to the variations of time and space is not, though, one of empathy. It rather conveys a state of alienation, similar to the reactions experienced by television spectators who watched the 9/11 attacks. Horror—and trauma—alienate these spectators from the spaces that were once part of their identities, and as Noriko did in the film, they wish the scene they are watching would “abruptly end” (79). In that The Spectral City 133 sense, “looking at time itself” (78)
between the city and its inhabitants after a traumatic episode on the magnitude of 9/11. The contribution of subjectivity is decisive to the reimagination of space, and Man in the Dark unquestionably succeeds in exposing the spatial consequences derived from Americans having experienced trauma at home. NOTES 1. Mike Davis, Planet of Slums (London: Verso, 2006), 19. 2. Marc Redfield, The Rhetoric of Terror: Reflections of 9/11 and the War on Terror (New York: Fordham University Press, 2009), 5. 3.
(accessed May 12, 2015). Rose, Gillian. “Walter Benjamin—Out of the Sources of Modern Judaism.” In Judaism and Modernity, Philosophical Essays, 175–210. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1993. Sankaran, Chitra. “Diasporic Predicaments: An Interview with Amitav Ghosh.” In History, Narrative, and Testimony in Amitav Ghosh’s Fiction, edited by Chitra Sankaran, 1–15. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2012. TEN Shifting the City’s Center within Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers