Book discusses communication in aftermath of 9-11


Blacksburg, Va. Robert E. Denton Jr., professor in the department of communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has edited a new book entitled Language, Symbols, and the Media Communication in the Aftermath of the World Trade Center Attack (Transaction Publishers).

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, created a new political landscape and a new era of warfare. Language, Symbols, and the Media offers insights into the impact and influence of 9-11 upon cultural, social, and political life.

The 11-chapter book opens with a discussion on media language and visual symbolism in the immediate wake of the attacks. The next chapter considers the challenge to religious pluralism and analyzes the grounds for the immediate backlash against Islam. Several crucial historical and contemporary Supreme Court rulings relevant to the limitations of free speech in times of war and national crises are reviewed.

In a chapter authored by freedom of speech scholar Wat Hopkins, another professor in Virginia Tech's department of communication, the consideration of First Amendment rights places the Patriot Act in historical context by comparing the legislation and its interpretation of it to other legislation passed in response to past American crises. Hopkins, who specializes in free speech issues, has written a number of books, is a member of the board of directors of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, and of Virginia's Freedom of Information Advisory Council.

The immediate aftermath of the attacks witnessed many calls for an end to "the age of irony" and a return to "traditional values." Another chapter considers some oppositional responses and analyzes the impact of irony as a rhetorical device in American culture. The unifying role of sports in the post-9-11 healing process is examined as well as the reactions and responses of young adults to the event one year later. Public makeover of political careers, advertising, and tourism also are topics that are explored in this book.

It concludes by examining several cases of media self-censorship and its implications for the policy-making process during times of crisis.

As historians work towards greater understanding of the event that triggered our "War on terror,' the role and function of language and communications will take on greater urgency. This volume will be of interest to cultural studies specialists, sociologists, journalists, political scientists, historians, as well as general readers.

Denton, a resident of Blacksburg, holds the W. Thomas Rice Chair of Leadership Studies in the Department of Communication at Virginia Tech and serves as the Director of the Rice Center for Leader Development. He is the author, co-author, and editor of 15 books on political communication and campaigns. Denton received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Wake Forest and his Ph.D from Purdue University.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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