Date of Thesis

5-6-2015

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Katherine Faull

Abstract

In this thesis I discuss the unique location of the autobiographical genre as a means for understanding and coping with two distinct national tragedies. By analyzing and quantifying post-trauma narratives in the wake of September 11, 2001 and March 11, 2011, I am able to assert cultural differences in communication styles between the peoples of the United States and Japan. The largest cultural difference that was found was the perspective from which Japanese and American citizens understand and communicate their 9/11 or 3.11 experiences to a wider audience. Mirroring the findings of many scholars, I have concluded that Japanese responders utilize a more intersubjective perspective from which to view disasters, while American narrators interpret trauma from a more personal, individualistic point of view. After assessing post-trauma autobiographical acts from a cultural perspective, the analysis then explores the roles of blame, evil and religion in national disasters. There are a wide variety of responses that both wrestle with and challenge these concepts, but no conclusive narrative is put forth dependent on one's nationality. In discussing the role of evil in public traumas, 9/11 responders were far more likely to characterize the event as "evil" than 3.11 responders. However, this schism could be due to the differing agent responsible for each event, or due to a general lesser presence of the concept "evil" in Japanese culture and language. This thesis then discusses the importance of the digital age for providing online forums and archives for post-trauma digital response. The sites created in response to national disasters provide immediacy, inclusivity and interactivity, all of which encourage widespread autobiographical acts in the aftermath of such events. Through digital archives, every voice is treated equally, which broadens the scope of authority and provides agency for individuals whose voices may not have been heard without the powerful interactive effects of Web 2.0. This thesis concludes by exploring the importance of autobiographical acts as sources of memorialization, aiding in both the public memory and history of affected nations. Utilizing an emotional and personal perspective, autobiographical responses to 9/11 and 3.11 provide a unique, nonlinear depiction of national traumas that are able to memorialize the events in a permanent, accessible way.

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