Instructor: Neel Ahuja (

Class Meetings: MWF 905-955am, Greenlaw 319

Office Hours: Mondays 1230-2pm, Greenlaw 419


This first-year seminar will introduce students to critical analysis and writing by exploring representations of the 9/11 attacks and the “war on terrorism” in literature and popular culture. Paying special attention to the public memorialization of and political responses to the al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, this course will ask students to reflect on the attacks’ relationships to politics, religion, security, warfare, and national identity. In addition to offering an introduction to the concept of terrorism and to the production of knowledge about political violence in the fields of law, politics, journalism, and terrorism studies in the past decade, the course will explore a diverse array of themes related to the 9/11 attacks as depicted in poetry, novels, graphic novels, film, and music: explanations of the causes and consequences of political violence, the role of religion in public culture and state institutions, the history of United States’ international relations, national security and antiwar discourses, mourning and public trauma, and the perspectives of detainees and minority communities on the attacks and their aftermath. Students will complete two major papers including revisions, engage in short performances and debates, and participate in regular classroom discussion and short writings.



Notebook or paper for in-class notes

Articles and websites on this wordpress site

Films on reserve at the Media Resources Center, Undergraduate Library

Books available at the UNC Stores:

  • Art Spiegelman, In the Shadow of No Towers
  • Moshin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist
  • Yasmina Khadra, The Sirens of Baghdad
  • Mark Falkoff, ed., Poems from Guantánamo
  • David Hare, Stuff Happens
  • Philip Metres, Sand Opera



  • Class participation, 20%. Students must complete assigned readings and viewings before the date listed on the syllabus, and are expected to participate in discussion during every class meeting in order to receive an A. I do actually grade this based on quantity and quality of participation. Students who speak rarely throughout the semester will receive an F for participation.
  • Student-led discussions and performances, 10%. Students will be assigned roles for in-class debates and performances. I grade on both content and delivery. Students are expected to practice and prepare beforehand.
  • Two papers, 6 pages each, 70%. The first paper will address direct scholarly, literary, and artistic responses to the 9/11 attacks. You will be required to revise and resubmit. The revision should demonstrate high-quality college-level writing; if this standard is not met, I may assign further required revisions. The second paper will focus on the aftermath of the attacks, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here, students will analyze a specific literary text in relation to public discourses about security, religion, multiculturalism, war, and/or state violence.



  • Attendance: 5 absences = zero for participation; 6+ absences = F for course.
  • Late papers: There will be grade penalties on paper #1 for papers submitted up to 72 hours after the deadline (for both 1st and 2nd drafts). No late papers will be accepted for paper #2. Penalties will be explained further in the paper assignments.
  • Readings, notes, and devices: No electronic devices may be used in the classroom unless I explicitly authorize them for a student access accommodation or for viewing web content. I expect students to print online readings from Sakai and to bring assigned readings to class on the proper date. I also expect students to take notes on paper during class. Students must stay tuned in to the discussion at all times. To protect your papers, I encourage students to backup data using or another online tool. There will be a link to sign up for free on the website.
  • Conduct: Students are expected to respect each other as well as divergent viewpoints. This means that you should absolutely express your disagreements with the instructor or other students but that you should do so without resorting to personal attacks or to generalizations about individuals or social groups. Please adhere to the honor code and avoid all plagiarism (including rephrasing someone else’s idea without citing it).
  • Universal Access: Please inform me if you need accommodation for a disability or other need. You may also directly contact Accessibility Resources and Service,,

Leave a Reply