Linda Wagner-Martin Discusses Post 9-11 Literature

November 13, 2008

Rollins College and Winter Park Institute welcomed renowned author Linda Wagner-Martin who discussed the themes and stylistic approaches that writers employ in post 9/11 texts. Wagner-Martin stated authors, “don’t want to falsify truth… and the writer is looking for a strategy to deal with 9-11.”

She emphasized how writers use metaphors to figuratively express truth. Focusing on these recent releases, Andre Dubus III's The Garden of Last Days, Ellen Gilchrist's A Dangerous Age, Don DeLillo’s Falling Man, Susan Choi’s ;A Person of Interest, and Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland,Martin-Wagner revealed linking traits of the texts. All the narratives contained surreal atmospheres and fragmented linear structures, the stories unwind in pieces.

The texts reflect how human behavior becomes surreal in the wake of tragic events, almost robot-like. In addition, all the narratives presented the information without passing judgment on the characters, and the stories were told by an omniscient narrator. Wagner-Martin discussed how 9-11 represents a clash of different belief systems, and the challenges writers face in representing that clash.

The attentive audience was comprised of Rollins alumni, faculty, staff, students and the local community. Opening the discussion to the audience, poet Billy Collins reflected how “realism is an ancient and indefinable word.” Rollins Associate Professor of English Jill Jones questioned if the recent presidential election was a reaction to the horror offering a sense of hope to the nation.

Learn more about the Winter Park Institute.

By Heather Georgoudiou (Class of 2009)

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