An English class offered at UNC Chapel Hill this fall called “Literature of 9/11” explores the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks from the perspective of radical Islamists and those who view America as an imperialist nation.
The reading assignments for the class, which includes poems, memoirs and graphic novels, present terrorists in a sympathetic light and American political leaders as greedy, war hungry and corrupt, according to a review by The College Fix.
The readings mostly focus on justifying the actions of terrorists – painting them as fighting against an American regime, or mistaken idealists, or good people just trying to do what they deem right. None of the readings assigned in the freshman seminar present the Sept. 11 attacks from the perspective of those who died or from American families who lost loved ones.
“ENGL 72: Literature of 9/11” is taught by Neel Ahuja, an associate professor of English, comparative literature, and geography at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
“Neel grew up in Topeka, Kansas. He studied transnational cultural studies at the University of California, San Diego and gender studies at Northwestern University, where he was a student organizer and labor solidarity activist,” according to his online faculty bio.
Ahuja did not respond to several emails from The College Fix seeking comment. Jim Gregory, UNC’s director of media relations, said in a telephone interview that the university does not have an official stance on the class.
First-year seminars are often esoteric in nature, and typically hone in on narrow and unique topics. They are meant to introduce new students to college-level courses, and “offer an introduction to the intellectual life of the university and focus on how scholars pose problems, discover truths, resolve controversies, and evaluate knowledge,” UNC’s website states.
Other seminars this fall at UNC include designing robots with Legos, the relationship between humans and animals, race and ethnic relations in the U.S., and even animals in Japanese folklore.
As for “Literature of 9/11,” its online description states it aims to “explore representations of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath in literature and popular culture.”
To that end, the class covers a wide variety of readings, according to a list detailed by the campus bookstore’s website.
In the Shadow of No Towers is a collection of 9/11 comics by celebrated graphic artist Art Speigelman, who witnessed the attacks from his home in lower Manhattan. None of his family died in the attack, but Speigelman told Democracy Now he felt anger at how the incident was turned into a patriotic rallying cry, and his Towers work is an extension of those emotions.
The horrors his family survived that morning “were only the beginning for Spiegelman, as his anguish was quickly displaced by fury at the U.S. government, which shamelessly co-opted the events for its own preconceived agenda,” according to the book’s Amazon description.
An online database of professor salaries maintained by the News & Observer states Ahuja’s annual salary is $72,100.
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