FP 20 Years Later: Looking Back at 9/11

International Conference

October, 7-8, 2021

University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France


Twenty years after the 9/11 attacks, the Universities of Toulouse and Montpellier in the South of France are joining forces to organize an international interdisciplinary conference on these events. Its aim is to analyze, not only the events and their short-term consequences with a two-decade hindsight, but also the many ways in which those events have been perceived, represented, commented upon, co-opted or rewritten along the years. It also invites reflections upon the way in which some of these responses, representations or co-optations have been in their turn received, commented upon and used in this 20-year period.

The scope of the conference is interdisciplinary, as it welcomes contributions from scholars specializing in history (contemporary, political, institutional, military), geopolitics, international relations, sociology, psychology, law, economics, media and communication studies, literature, film studies, art, architecture, and popular culture. The conference is meant as a place for fruitful cross reflections on images, discourses, facts that have been seen, heard, told thousands of times, with varied intentions and perspectives. Joint paper proposals by two or three specialists from different fields are particularly welcome. Two interdisciplinary round tables will also be organized.

Our two keynote speakers are Kristiaan Versluys, Professor of US Literature and Culture at the University of Ghent (Belgium), author of Out of the Blue: September 11 and the Novel (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), and Andrew Rudalevige, Professor of Government, Chair of Department of Government and Legal Studies, Bowdoin College (USA), and author of New Imperial Presidency: Renewing Presidential Power after Watergate (Chicago: University of Michigan Press, 2006).

Participants are invited to examine the various responses to the events (from the micro level of individuals to the macro level of institutions), and the evolution and variety of the representations of 9/11. Specific attention will be given to the context of such reactions and representations, in 2001, and throughout the two decades since then.

Proposals may include, but may not be limited to, the following topics:

  • Twenty-years-later recontextualization of the attacks (the first Gulf War in the wake of the end of the Cold War, the influence of neoconservatism, US foreign policy in the Arab-Muslim world, the 2000 and 2004 general elections, the Bush presidency);
  • Perspectives upon the aftermath of 9/11 in its political, institutional, military, ideological, economic, social, geopolitical, artistic, media, semiotic, psychological and architectural dimensions;
  • Studies of the discursive and aesthetic responses to events that have hurled America into a semiotic vacuum, due to the erasure of traces, bearings, and meaning;
  • Analyses of the reception of 9/11-related works produced over two decades, and especially of the impact on reception of the temporal distance between the events and the reception of those works;
  • Enquiries into the way trauma has manifested itself, at the individual level and/or at the collective level, in given social groups or communities, or according to specific ideological points of view;
  • Studies of the commemorative and remembering processes: institutional responses (from the Federal Government and the NYC authorities), architectural aspects (the debates over the rebuilding of Ground Zero and the construction of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum), media responses (anniversary coverage in the mainstream media, viral conspiracy theories on social media), or in pedagogy (how 9/11 made its way into US schoolbooks and syllabi).

Papers can be given in either English or French. Conference proposals of up to 300 words should be accompanied by a short biographical note and should be sent to Françoise Coste (francoste@hotmail.com) by September 11, 2020.