8134 - Humanity Rendered Visible: Literature, Art and the Post-9/11 Imagination

This paper is a study of literature and art produced in the United States, Latin America and the United Kingdom after September 11, 2001 and after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It begins with an overview of poetry written by prisoners at Guantanamo. It then locates the prisoners’ poetry alongside Ariel Dorfman’s play, Voices from Beyond the Dark, and Goshka Macuga’s art installation, The Nature of the Beast. The artists and writers whose work I study here tell stories about war, prison and human degradation. Surprisingly perhaps, they also promote a hopeful, even compassionate vision of 21 st century world culture. I argue that this body of work is part of a broad global initiative that seeks to define the 21 st century with an emphasis on transnational solidarity as an appropriate response to terror. For example, just as Ariel Dorfman’s play vigorously contests the post-9/11 rush to war, it unveils what the U.S. government did not: namely, Iraqi dignity and transnational solidarity with the victims of the invasion. Goshka Macuga’s art installation, The Nature of the Beast, serves a similar end: Macuga’s work is a response to the covering-up of the Guernica tapestry in the United Nations building in New York in February 2003. The artist’s imaginative response to that wartime event reveals both human suffering and human dignity. Again, like Dorfman’s play and the Guantanamo prison poetry, Macuga’s work is part of the larger project to render humanity visible in the 21 st century. My work defines and illuminates this project and thus adds a scholarly, theoretical dimension to the humanity rendered visible by these important 21 st century artists.          

Palabras claves: 9/11, Guantanamo, poetry, art, 21st century

Autores: Teresa, Longo (College of William & Mary, Ud States of Am / USA)


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