Kicking off a new series titled “Conversations on America,” a roundtable discussion session was held Thursday, Sept. 8, on the eighth floor lounge of Anderson Hall.
The session, “9/11: Ten Years After,” was conducted by American Studies Steering Chair Miles D. Orvell.
Orvell was joined by six professors, from areas including religion, media arts, political science and English, to discuss the tragic event from a variety of viewpoints.
“I wanted to represent different approaches on the subject,” Orvell said.
By inviting the eclectic group of professors, Orvell said he hoped to create conversations between departments and to be able to look at the topic of the Sept. 11 attacks from more than just one angle.
The professors present were Richard Zimmerman, a history professor, Gary Mucciaroni, a political science professor, Nora Alter, a film and media professor, Daniel T. O’Hara, an English professor, Laurence Steinberg, a psychology professor, and Rebecca Alpert, a religion professor.
All were asked several questions by Orvell pertaining to how they thought American culture has changed since 9/11. Each panel member took 5 minutes to discuss their specific viewpoint on the matter.
“I was very surprised of the conversations that were happening [between the panelists],” Orvell said.
With all of the professors having published works in relation to their beat, no category regarding the 9/11 attacks was uncovered.
Mucciaroni commented on political stand point of the attacks talked about how new policies and how a “paranoid style of American politics” came to be.
“9/11 had policy changes after it happened. Because of the brazen assault, all these new policies came into effect,” Mucciaroni said.
The Patriot Act of 2001 was briefly discussed by Mucciaroni and the other panelists.
Media coverage was discussed by Alter, who said many “popular lists of actors and actresses that have made films against the war” that America has been involved in since 2001.
Steinberg discussed how psychological statements regarding the hysteria of the event slowly died out within months, stating that “9/11 has not had much of an enduring impact…people go about their day-to-day lives [as] if [9/11] never happened.”
These discussion points created a conversation between the panelists that left the audience members inquiring and recalling their memories of that day.
After an hour and a half of give-and-go discussions, the event came to an end.
Orvell explained that a topic as big as the 9/11 attacks cannot be looked at from just one perspective.
“Everyone came at this with different viewpoints,” he said. “The idea was to expand the conversation, reflect on it from more than just one discipline, and I think it was successful.”
Addy Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.