Retracing Rupture: Remembering 9/11 in Theory and Practice

Bond, Lucy. 2012. Retracing Rupture: Remembering 9/11 in Theory and Practice. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis analyses the commemoration of 9/11 in the American public sphere. Whilst memories of 9/11 have taken disparate forms and served divergent agendas since 2001, I contend that certain narrative frameworks can be seen to mediate the representation of the attacks across discursive spheres. Such paradigms prescribe particular interpretations of September 11, threatening to reify its memory with problematic, and often political, implications. I trace these models to their historical origins, interrogating the means by which representational forms acquire hegemonic weighting from their repetition over time. I critique the processes through which memory’s centrifugal dynamism is made to appear as centripetal stasis. In so doing, I turn my attention to the current theorising of memory. Whilst the most important developments in memory studies in recent years have identified democratising modes of remembrance that seek to transcend national and cultural boundaries, I suggest that, as it is currently practiced, commemoration remains an unfortunately competitive enterprise. I point to the dangers of allowing an idealistic – and at times, unreflexive – approach to theory to deflect attention from the more problematic aspects of memory in practice. Ultimately, I hope to destabilize these dynamics, opening the way for a more ethical reconfiguration of the relationships between the public and the private, the self and the other, the local, national, and the global, in American memorial culture. I emphasize the need to remain attentive to the mutually constitutive relationship between commemorative practice and theory, as well as the broader negotiations that take place between memory and history. I draw attention to the counter-­‐ narratives that have been lost in the standardizing discourses that have surrounded 9/11, calling for the development of an inclusive culture of memory, tolerant of diversity and attentive to difference, both inside and outside national boundaries.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


thesis, bond, lucy, 9, 11, 9/11, theory, practice, english, literature, rupture, remembering, memory, public, sphere

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


9 February 2012

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

25 May 2012 09:09

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:33


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