Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Klaver, Elizabeth


While the negative effects of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 are still permeating throughout the United States, a few novelists have taken on the extreme task of writing about this historic event. Richard Gray describes the failure of language after the attack took place, yet novelists wanted to write about this tragedy anyway. Reading trauma in 9/11 is inevitable as it is important. In looking at three novels that deal with the events during and the aftermath of 9/11, I hope to consider the way art is used in these texts. In doing so, my thesis will look at the possibility of art being able to heal the wounds of this traumatic event. My second chapter will focus on the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. This novel depicts the effect 9/11 had on the child protagonist, Oskar, and follows him as he works through the trauma of losing his father in the South Tower. The third chapter of my thesis will discuss Don DeLillo's Falling Man, which offers a depiction of the powerful effect trauma has on the main characters in the novel, particularly Lianne. The performance artist is discussed at length. My fourth chapter will discuss the novel The Submission by Amy Waldman. Just as Maya Lin's submission for her Vietnam memorial sparked controversy, Waldman takes the same approach by casting an American Muslim as the artist and memorial architect for 9/11. While the previous novels focus on the personal effects of trauma on the characters, my chapter on The Submission will elucidate how trauma is negotiated on a national scale. I hope to answer such questions as: What do we expect in a memorial? What should we expect? What are the various demands survivors place on memorials?




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