Reconstructing the Post-9/11 American War Narrative in Anthony Lappé’s Shooting War (2007), Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012), and Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds (2012)

Shalaby, Manal 


Since 9/11 was closely related to all forms of art – film, music, literature… etc. – most artistic representations have become an extremely useful, yet challenging, political tool stressing the sense of loss and grief while subtly harnessing the public opinion towards a violent retaliation which finally paved the way for the notorious War on Terror. This explains why most 9/11 fiction has been criticized for its failure to adequately respond to the literary and ethical demands of the era and to address the events as a contextualized whole, not as traumatizing disintegrated parts, in addition to being emotional in nature, drowning in self-lamentation, and sentimentally retreating inward. The dissertation tackles war fiction produced after 9/11, which is widely mistaken as a continuation of 9/11 fiction, and how it may represent a break from the narratives employed by the literature written in the wake of the event. The principal objective of the dissertation is to examine this break and its thematic and stylistic manifestations in American post-9/11 literature through its approach to three of the most important aspects related to any crisis discourse in general and the war discourse in particular. First, the dissertation reformulates the role memory plays in constructing personal and public histories in recent times of crisis. Second, it proposes a new understanding of the trauma narrative as opposed to the propagated notions of this widespread cultural and psychological phenomenon. Third, it questions the traditional hegemonic narratives of Empire and how they can be used as a tool of self-criticism. In order to properly engage with those aspects and concerns and to reach a plausibly valid conclusion, the dissertation analyzes three American literary works of art written during or directly after the War on Terror. Despite sharing the same subject matter, the three works in question – Anthony Lappe’s and Dan Goldman’s graphic novel Shooting War (2007), Ben Fountain’s satirical novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012), and Kevin Powers’ semi-autobiographical novel The Yellow Birds (2012) – have been chosen carefully to cover diverse ideologies and represent a wide range of stylistic differences.

Other data

Keywords post-9/11 fiction, war narrative, war on terror, history, memory, trauma, empire
Issue Date 2018
Publisher Ain Shams University
Description PhD Dissertation

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