Teaching Terrorism - Roundtable at NeMLA 2018
Abstr. due: 30.09.2017
Dates: 12.04.18 — 15.04.18
Organizing comittee e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Organizers: Northeast Modern Language Association
This roundtable will examine teaching methods and strategies for addressing the fiction of terrorism in the contemporary literature classroom. With a focus on teaching after 9/11, and in a moment fraught with tensions about politics and secondary education (see, for example, the “Professor Watchlist”), this roundtable will also address the ways faculty can frame their classes—not only for the students they teach, but for a general public concerned with the politics of college and university faculty.
From Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent to Karan Mahajan’s The Association of Small Bombs, terrorist “plots” and their political, social, economic, cultural, and historical contexts have proliferated in world literature. Especially after 9/11, fundamentalist novels such as Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Ishtiyaq Shukri’s The Silent Minaret have sought to examine the interiority of potential terrorists and recast East/West dynamics in terms of a longer and lingering colonial history.
The goal of this roundtable is to examine the experiences and outcomes of teaching “terrorist plots” to a wide-range of student populations, from war veterans to students born shortly before 9/11. In 2015, Professor Neel Ahuja’s Literature of 9/11 course at UNC created a firestorm in conservative circles, and Professor Ahuja was accused of creating a class “sympathetic to terrorists”—a charge that flattens the nuanced explorations of “fundamentalism” that pervades many of the books on the syllabus.
Given these concerns, papers are invited to address any of the following questions: How do faculty teach terrorism in the literature classroom, especially in this contemporary moment? In what ways can the literature of terrorism provide a unifying framework for reading world literature of the 20th and 21st centuries? How have faculty introduced these topics, and what historical or cultural contexts have been useful for shaping class discussions? What new challenges and possibilities arise from teaching the texts of terrorism?
250 word abstract (for 5-10 minute presentations) should be submitted via the NeMLA website by September 30, 2017. Accepted panelists must be NeMLA members by December 1, 2017.