UNC officials stand behind controversial 9/11 course

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – UNC Chapel Hill leaders are standing behind a controversial class called “Literature of 9/11.”

The seminar looks at how the attacks and aftermath are shown in literature and pop culture.

An article on the conservative website “The College Fix” criticized the class saying the course sympathized with terrorists.

Commenters claiming to be students who have taken the course defended it saying the article gets it wrong.

9-11 comment 1

9-11 comment 2

UNC spokesperson Jim Gregory said the seminar doesn’t force a set of beliefs.

For any student, part of the college experience is the opportunity to grow by learning about yourself and how you engage with and learn from those who have different points of view. Carolina’s first-year seminar program is part of that growth. The University isn’t forcing a set of beliefs on students; we’re asking them to prepare for and engage in every lesson, debate and conversation, and share what they think. Carolina offers academic courses to challenge students – not to advocate one viewpoint over another.

The seminar program is voluntary and the students select the class they wish to attend. More than 80 seminar courses on a wide variety of topics were available to incoming freshman this semester. The ability to bring differing points of view goes beyond the classroom; each year, student organizations invite speakers representing their own platforms that, collectively, offer an array of diverse ideologies from the left and right that lead to intellectual debate and discovery.”

This is how the course is described on UNC’s website:

This seminar will explore representations of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath in literature and popular culture. Following an introduction to the concept of terrorism and to the production of knowledge about political violence in the fields of law, politics, religious studies, and terrorism studies, we will explore a diverse array of themes related to the 9/11 attacks and the “war on terror” as depicted in memoirs, poetry, novels, public art, graphic novels, film, and music: explanations of the causes and consequences of political violence; the role of religion in public culture and state institutions; national security discourse; mourning, trauma, and public memorials; depictions of the US military in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan; and the perspectives of detainees and minority communities on the attacks and their aftermath. Students will read critical scholarship and literary texts, discuss major controversies in organized debates, compose two papers, and complete group presentations on topics of their choice.”

The UNC College Republicans created a Change.org petition asking UNC Chancellor Carol Folt to condemn the class.

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