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‘Coming of Age with 9/11’ explores effects on lives

Friday, September 24, 2004

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Students who will graduate from Wofford College in May 2005 were young, fresh first-year students when the United States and the world were rocked on Sept. 11, 2001. For some, their college careers and their lives have been defined from that point – encompassing everything from presidential elections, travel and feeling secure.

Wofford College will explore those effects, and changes in the world, during a weeklong series of events and presentations titled “Coming of Age with 9/11” Oct. 4 through 7. These will include films, faculty panel discussions and guest speakers, all addressing the dilemma of dealing with terrorism from different perspectives.

History professor Dr. Mark S. Byrnes, along with colleague Dr. Jim Neighbors, organized the events. “I had a conversation with other faculty last spring about Sept. 11, and I recalled that my two Western Civilization sections that day were filled mostly with first-year students. It occurred to me that they would be graduating this year. They were in their first days at Wofford when those horrible events took place, and in many ways, their entire college experience has been marked by that day,” Byrnes says. “So, I thought that it would be good if, as a college, we tried during this year to put that event into some kind of perspective. What did it mean to come of age with 9/11?”

As a result of those conversations, the “Coming of Age with 9/11” programs were developed. “We are showing two films and having panels of faculty to lead discussions on them,” Byrnes notes. The first film is “The Battle of Algiers,” a classic film about the Algerian war against the French colonizers in the 1950s. “It has become the focus of attention recently due to reports that the Pentagon has been showing it to troops headed for Iraq for insights into dealing with terrorist tactics in an insurgency,” Byrnes says.

The second film, “Osama,” is being shown as part of Wofford’s World Film Series. “The Afghan film won the Golden Globe Award for best foreign film. It is about a young girl in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan who pretends to be a boy to avoid the restrictions that regime put on females,” he says. “It should provide interesting insights into the world in which Al Qaeda flourished and was protected.”

Featured speakers include Jacques Lezra, professor of English and Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of a forthcoming book, “The Ethic of Terror and Radical Democracy; Randy Deitering, visiting professor and officer in residence at the University of South Carolina and member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (1998-2003); and Frederick Stoddard, clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and past president of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society.

“My hope is that these events, as well as others being planned by students, will provoke deeper thought and debate over the meaning of 9/11 for our community, our country, our world,” Byrnes says. “When I went into my class that afternoon, I said, ‘You will look back on this as the day everything changed.’ In retrospect, perhaps that was too melodramatic, but I suspect we all will be grappling with the ramifications of that day for some time to come. Maybe these events can help us do so.”

Here are the schedule and details of the “Coming of Age with 9/11” program:

Monday, Oct. 4, 4 p.m., Olin Teaching Theater – “The Ethic of Terror,” lecture by Jacques Lezra, professor of English and Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of a forthcoming book, “The Ethic of Terror and Radical Democracy.

Monday, Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m., McMillan Theater, Campus Life Building – Film, “The Battle of Algiers.”

Tuesday, Oct. 5, 4 p.m., Montgomery Room, Burwell Building – Panel Discussion, “The Battle of Algiers.” Panelists – Dr. William DeMars, Wofford government department; Dr. Jacques Lezra, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Dr. Clayton Whisnant, Wofford history department; Karen Kaczorowski, French and intercultural studies major; and Amelia Snider, history major.

Tuesday, Oct. 5, 7-9 p.m., Shipp Hall Lounge – Community Coffee House: “In the Shadow of 9/11.” Personal recollections, poetry, performances reflecting on 9/11.

Wednesday, Oct. 6, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m., Olin Teaching Theater – World Film Series: “Osama.”

Wednesday, Oct. 6, 4 p.m., Montgomery Room, Burwell Building – “Secrecy and Transparency in American Intelligence on Terrorism,” lecture by Randy Deitering, visiting professor and officer in residence at the University of South Carolina and member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (1998-2003).

Thursday, Oct. 7, 11 a.m., AAAS Room, Burwell Building – “Osama” Panel Discussion. Panelists – Dr. Sally Hitchmough, Wofford English department and Gender Studies Program; Dr. Cecile McAninch, Wofford psychology department; Dr. Byron McCane, Wofford religion department; and Kaitlyn Roberts, English major.

Thursday, Oct. 7, 4 p.m., Olin Teaching Theater, Franklin W. Olin Building – “Preparation for the Psychological Consequences of Terrorism,” lecture by Frederick Stoddard, clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and past president of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society.