The September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States constitute a watershed moment in American history. The collapse of the World Trade Center towers paralyzed the country, while at the same time reviving feelings of national pride and unity. Statements such as "We’ll never be the same" or "Everything has changed" were widespread after 9/11 and revealed the profound impact of the events on the American collective psyche. In this respect, popular culture proved to be a suitable research field of the discourse of the post-September 11 experience. The American comedy series "South Park" serves as the analytical basis of this study. In how far has the tragedy affected Americans' view of who they are as a people? What is it that characterizes the nation's self-conception following the strikes? The book tries to answer these questions focusing on key features of the U.S. character like religion, patriotism, the sense of invulnerability, and the traditional dualistic perspective of "Us vs. Them". While Americans are divided on major political and social issues, September 11 crystallized what has often been underrated: the deep roots of the American national identity.

Sebastian J. Westphal
American National Identity after September 11. Post-9/11 Experience as Mirror Narrative
ISBN 978-3-86573-247-7
115 S. 17,90 EUR. 2007

Inhaltsverzeichnis (PDF)

Introduction: A Nation United – in Shock ..... 11

Chapter 1. National Identity Theory ..... 15

Chapter 2. American National Identity: Culture and Creed ..... 21

2.1. American Culture
2.2. The "American Creed"

Chapter 3. "God Bless America" and American (Civil) Religion ..... 30

Chapter 4. "United we stand": Solidarity and American Patriotism ..... 38

Chapter 5. America's "Crisis Mentality" ..... 49

Chapter 6. Enemies Old and New ..... 57

Chapter 7. "South Park" and the "Aesthetics of Resistance" ..... 63

7.1. Religion: "Grab your guns and your Bibles"
7.2. Patriotism: "Choking on the sweet air of freedom"
7.3. The Loss of a Sense of Invulnerability: "I don't wanna get the 'thrax'"
7.4. "Us vs. Them": "Terrorist-related AIDS continues to grow"

Chapter 8. America's Character – "Alive and Kicking" ..... 83

Bibliography ..... 86

Appendix 1: "South Park" script ..... 97

Appendix 2: German-language Summary ..... 113