Dramatic History/Historical Drama. Staging 9/11 as Aristotelian Tragedy

Alice Balestrino


This article intends to inquire the official narrative of the 9/11 terrorist attacks exhibited at the 9/11 Memorial Museum as a mise-en-scène of a tragedy according to the definition theorized by Aristotle in his Poetics. Indeed, the 9/11MM stages a master narrative of the attacks that frames the historical reconstruction and nurtures the memorial endeavor on the basis of Aristotle’s unity of time and place; predominance of performance over narration; explicit distinction between heroes and villains; and the inspiration, in the spectator, of the empathic feelings of fear and pity ultimately leading to the catharsis. In turn, this enactment may be read as the apex of the “us vs. them” rhetoric, inaugurated by President Bush in the wake of the attacks and subsequently endorsed by other politicians and the media alike.


post-9/11 rhetoric; 9/11Memorial Museum; Aristotle’s Poetics

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13136/2281-4582/2020.i15.721


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