American Studies Network Book Prize for "Ground Zero Fiction" by Birgit Däwes

Junior Professor of American Studies receives award from the American Studies Network


Dr. Birgit Däwes, Junior Professor for American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, has won the American Studies Network Book Prize for her newest book, Ground Zero Fiction: History, Memory, and Representation in the American 9/11 Novel. The prize was awarded at the 2012 European Association for American Studies (EAAS) Conference held in Izmir. Worth €1,000, the prize is awarded biannually by the American Studies Network to a remarkable book written in English with a topic relating to the USA.

The book Ground Zero Fiction, released in September 2011 by Universitätsverlag Winter in Heidelberg, is a literary and cultural analysis of over 160 US novels that deal with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "Here in Germany, hardly anyone is aware of the sheer number of literary reactions to the events of 9/11 over the last 10 years," Birgit Däwes explains. She systematically analyzed this literature, taking note of its formal, structural, and thematic characteristics. In addition to texts by Jonathan Safran Foer, Don DeLillo, and John Updike, she also looked at books published by less famous authors. 9/11 literature is not only a stage on which authors experiment with how to process crises in a narrative way, but it also functions as an intersection between historic and fictional representation, between ethical and aesthetic responsibilities, and between national and international identity formation.