9/11, the War on Terror, and the Sociology of Mass Media

(First Edition)
Edited by Nickie Michaud Wild
©2019, 360 pages

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9/11, the War on Terror, and the Sociology of Mass Media

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    9/11, the War on Terror, and the Sociology of Mass Media explores the cultural and political impact of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, with particular emphasis on the media’s role in constructing meanings in the wake of the tragedy. The carefully selected readings within this anthology tell the story of how 9/11 was “created”—that is, how the story of the event was told, and how it was not told. In providing students with a comprehensive overview of the various narratives constructed in the aftermath of a defining moment in U.S. history, the book sheds light on how government and media can shape stories, and how those stories contribute to our social reality.

    The book begins with a selection of articles and chapters that offer students a thorough explanation of the attacks themselves, as well as the effects they had on politics and other official publics. The readings in Part 2 of the text explore society’s reaction to 9/11 and the wars it produced, with emphasis on the response of popular culture. Part 3 provides an understanding of the social and historical reasons as to why the attacks happened, both from the perspective of U.S. foreign policy and the terrorists who enacted the attack. The anthology closes with a section that takes a look at the lasting effects of the attacks, exploring cultural impact and the changing landscape of terrorist threats.

    By encouraging students to rationally explore and ask questions about an event that many feel they’ve been unable to examine critically before, 9/11, the War on Terror, and the Sociology of Mass Media allows them to exercise their citizenship, nationally and globally. This anthology is well suited for intermediate courses in the sociology of mass media and mass communication, as well as courses in terrorism and cultural sociology.

    Nickie Michaud Wild is a visiting assistant professor/lecturer of sociology at Mount Holyoke College. She earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in sociology from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and the University at Albany, State University of New York, respectively. Dr. Michaud Wild is a faculty fellow at the Yale Center for Cultural Sociology. She has published articles about political humor in the American Journal of Cultural Sociology and the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, and is currently working on a writing project about how comedy has become an increasingly integral part of the United States’ political discourse.
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    “Nickie Michaud Wild’s edited volume is a much welcome contribution to the field of 9/11 studies. Its target audience is a generation who may not have any personal recollection of the event. The volume guides its readers to think critically about the official narration and memorialization of 9/11, as well as their impact on the U.S. cultural and political field. At its focus is the media’s role in “creating” 9/11 as a socio-cultural phenomenon. Michaud Wild does a superb job of contextualizing this topic with sections covering the political and intellectual foundations of the attacks. It is an excellent source for educators and students, as well as the general public who seek to better comprehend a phenomenon that has been most influential in shaping the U.S. society for the last 20 years.”
    Elif Babül, assistant professor of anthropology at Mount Holyoke College

    “This is a wonderful book for introducing students to various sociological perspectives on the causes and consequences of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Wild has deftly compiled a diverse collection of readings that promote a nuanced and critical awareness of how our shared understanding of 9/11 initially took shape the many ways that the stories of 9/11 have been revised as they are retold in media, politics, and popular culture.”
    Brian Monahan, assistant professor at Baldwin Wallace University

    “This is a really smart book, and a great idea for an undergraduate sociology course. Professor Michaud Wild has curated a wonderful collection of readings, drawn from leading scholars and spanning a range of disciplines and perspectives. Michaud Wild lends her own sophisticated analysis in helpful introductions to each section, and she includes exercises that encourage students to engage their sociological imaginations. This book is clearly the product of a master teacher at work.”
    Ron Jacobs, professor of sociology, University at Albany, State University of New York

    “Nearly twenty years after the collective trauma of September 11, 2001, Nickie Michaud Wild takes us back to the terrorist attacks, their immediate social aftermath, and the subsequent War on Terror. Using primary documents to trace how government and media shaped the official story, the book is an accessible introduction to the sociology of mass media as well as a nuanced historical reading of a defining American moment. Readers encountering this history for the first time are also asked to draw out the legacies of 911 for American politics today – widespread resistance to globalization, feelings of national insecurity, the normalization of Islamophobia, and declining rationality in public discourse.”
    Eleanor Townsley, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Sociology, Mount Holyoke College