English, Department of


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A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Marco Abel. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2010
Copyright 2010 Michael Jamieson


In the wake of the attacks of September 11th, many artists struggled with how to respond to the horror. In literature, Don DeLillo was one of the first authors to pose a significant, fictionalized investigation of the day. In this thesis, Michael Jamieson argues that DeLillo’s post-9/11 work constitutes a new form of response to the tragedy. Drawing on the work of Marco Abel and his conception of maso-criticism, Jamieson argues that DeLillo works intensively into the attacks themselves as a way to avoid grand narratives that place them within a conventional story (the War on Terror, Islamic fundamentalism). His essay “In the Ruins of the Future” for Harper’s Magazine and his novels Cosmopolis and Falling Man work as a cohesive theorization of this response. Without relying on judgment or historical narratives, DeLillo attempts to work back into the moments of instability when we did not quite understand what was happening, when there was only smoke and flames and ruins. How can our response to 9/11 be different? How and can we make the dizzying process of watching the attacks productive?

Advisor: Marco Abel