Date of Award

5-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

College/School

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Department/Program

English

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Caroline Dadas

Committee Member

Lee Behlman

Committee Member

Laura Nicosia

Subject(s)

Terrorism in literature, September 11 Terrorist Attacks (2001) in literature, Visual communication

Abstract

The shift in communication since the turn of the century necessitates an understanding of visual rhetoric. Critics claim that verbal communication is more effective than using images to communicate ideas. However, visual rhetoricians argue that images appeal to the reader’s emotions, thus making an immediate, truthful, and powerful impact. The purpose of my research is to examine the functionality of visual rhetoric and to determine how this field enhances 21 st century communication. In consideration of how visual rhetoric has shaped literature since the turn of the century, I have concluded that the September 11th terrorist attacks have made an enormous impact on the writing processes of contemporary writers. Due to the documented visual saturation of the September 11 th terrorist attacks, the visual irrevocably influences the ways in which present-day writers compose. I argue that the visual saturation of 9/11 triggers traumatic symptoms in victims who experienced the attacks. Trauma theorists argue that narrative writing is a strong coping mechanism for alleviating symptoms of trauma. However, given the visual saturation of the attacks, prose writing, I argue, is not powerful enough to assuage trauma. The research I have conducted suggests that a multimodal form of writing is necessary in an effort to confront the issues of 9/11 traumas. I have applied theories of visual rhetoric and trauma theory to Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow o f No Towers, both of which are deemed “trauma narratives.” I argue that these texts must combine images and words in order to communicate notions of trauma and national tragedy. The literature under study exemplifies how a multimodal approach to literature is necessary to meet the demands of a visually oriented world of communication.

File Format

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