ASU lecture offers 'Reflections and Memories of 9/11'

By

Marshall Terrill

How can we as a nation find humanity in a tragedy such as 9/11? Considered one of the most horrific events of the 21st century, how can we heal from the events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001? An Arizona State University professor and filmmaker will attempt to answer those questions and more in a special lecture commemorating the 13th anniversary of 9/11.

Aaron Hess, an assistant professor of communications in the College of Letters and Sciences, will continue the fall 2014 Humanities Lecture Series with his presentation of “Seeking Humanity in Tragedy: Reflections and Memories of 9/11.” Hosted by ASU’s College of Letters and Sciences and Project Humanities, the lecture starts at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 11, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 555 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, room 128.

The lecture series, now in its seventh year, is open to the general public and is free.

“The 9/11 tragedy was and is such an unspeakable agony of loss; yet as we look back there was a lot of goodness that came as people rushed to help, comfort and rebuild,” said Dr. Mirna Lattouf, series lecture organizer. “This presentation aims to focus on the silver lining that too often goes without recognition but is just as important to remember.”

The United States has carried the memory of this national tragedy as a part of the national consciousness. At the ten-year anniversary, Hess and Art Herbig, a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana, traveled to New York to document the commemorative activities regarding the events of 9/11. This trip was the basis of an 80-minute feature-length documentary film, "Never Forget: Public Memory and 9/11." Using footage from this project, Hess will explore how the memory of Sept. 11 speaks of tragedy, but also of humanity. The stories shared by those in attendance at the unveiling of the National Memorial in Lower Manhattan include themes of unity, empathy, compassion and self-reflection.

“When the public thinks of 9/11, it conjures up atrocity, horror and inhumanity, but inside of that there were moments of humanity, compassion, integrity and self-reflection,” Hess said. “My lecture will look at how, through tragedy, we can understand humanity, and not just focus on the violence of 9/11.”

Hess will also discuss and define the concept of public memory and how it has shaped the event.

“Public memory is a collective process about our public consciousness regarding the past. While we have individual memories of the past that help guide us,” Hess said, “the stories we share as a nation about 9/11 create cultural foundations regarding the tragedy for the present and the future.”

The lecture series will continue on Oct. 16 with Jonathan Davis’ presentation, “Telling Stories through Creative Technology.”

For more information on the fall 2014 Humanities Lecture Series, call Dr. Mirna Lattouf, series organizer, at (602) 496-0638 or email Mirna.Lattouf@asu.edu