Assignment 1: The Past is Prologue
1) Your first task is to post a response to the discussion board and tell us about your initial reactions to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. You’ve obviously had time to reflect on the events, but I want you to put yourself in the “wayback” machine and attempt to recreate your life, your feelings, and your thoughts on that day. Try to forget about what has transpired globally since September 11, 2001, during America’s “campaign” against terrorism, and tell us what your first “raw” reaction was when you saw or heard about the attacks.
"I'm going to fight with the hate in my heart. What's in me, what's in my veins, I'm going to kill, slaughter those.... If I come across a wounded one, it wouldn't interest me. I'd kill my own father if he dare to fight against this country."
-- man on the street, Washington, D.C.
- Aim for writing at least a couple of well-developed, detailed paragraphs relating your memories of 9/11.
- Tell us a story that Homer would find interesting and revealing.
- Read all of your classmates’ responses to get an idea of the similarities and differences among people’s initial reactions to 9/11.
- Ask at least one of your classmates a question about his or her experience.
- Reply to any questions asked of you.
2) Your second task is to assume that you’ve been asked to conduct some field work the day after the attacks on the World Trade Center (or Pearl Harbor) and that your goal is to chronicle the reactions of ordinary “people on the street” to the incident(s).
- Compile a list of at least four (4) questions that you would ask these folks.
- Provide a rationale or purpose for each query.
- Post this information to the discussion board.
3) Before we actually listen to flesh-and-blood Americans commenting on the attack of Pearl Harbor, I want you to post a response to the discussion board detailing what you think you’re likely to find and hear in this archive. Use your knowledge of “official” American history and culture to inform your answer, and be as specific as possible.
- Would you expect the respondents to be angry, patriotic, determined, afraid, invested, sad, confident, arrogant, demoralized, or any other adjective you can think of?
- Will there be a difference in the reactions depending on the race, gender, class, or ethnicity of the person being interviewed? Why or why not?
- Will the public reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor be similar to the average American’s response to 9/11 as represented, for instance, by what you see in the posts by your classmates? Why or why not?
4) Okay, now it’s time to check out the archive. If possible, spend at least an hour exploring the various features of the “After the Day of Infamy” archive:
- read the entire cover page, and familiarize yourself with the various links on the menu that appear after the term “Browse”
- check out the three subheadings found at the bottom portion of the cover page:
- “Special Presentation”
- “Understanding the Collection"
- “Working with the Collection"
- click on “Search” and browse by “Audio Titles” in order to find a complete listing of the audio holdings in the archive (for some reason this handy option is not included in the list of five ways to browse given on the main page)
- on the “Audio Titles” page, notice that the collection is divided into two sets of interviews:
- interviews conducted on December 8, 1941, entitled “Man-on-the-Street”
- responses recorded in January and February of 1942 entitled “Dear Mr. President”
- navigate through the collection by using the search engine
- use search terms that you think would be most the interesting or appropriate for the collection
- refer to the list of questions you came up with for possible search terms
- consult the “Subject” link in the Browse menu for suggestions of possible search terms
I want you to get a feel for the archive, and it’s not necessary to post any observations yet, but if you feel compelled to do so, there will be a forum available on the discussion board. Tomorrow we’ll do some more focused exploring, and there’ll be plenty of opportunities to comment then.
- and, most importantly, listen to interviews as the spirit moves you (refer to the Working with the Recordings document in Course Documents)
"I hope to God that hemispheric isolation and other such queer ideas have now been relegated to the ash heap of scrap treaties."
-- student at Univ. of Wisconsin