The 9/11 reflections and responses of New York University administrators, faculty, and students are the focus of a special issue of the journal Traumatology. The issue’s 13 articles, written by members of the NYU community who were at the university on September 11, 2001, offer insights into what the campus community experienced that day and days following as well as professional analyses on the impact of the attacks.
The issue, “Enduring September 11th in New York: Lessons Learned by the NYU Community,” was edited by three NYU faculty: Judith Alpert, a professor of applied psychology at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; Avital Ronell, a professor of German, comparative literature, French, and English; and Shireen Patell, a clinical assistant professor. Alpert and Ronell are co-directors of NYU’s Trauma and Violence Transdisciplinary Studies Program; Patell is the program’s associate director.
“Universities are a cornerstone for reflection and discussion, especially around events of great historic significance,” explained Alpert, founder of the Division of Trauma Psychology of the American Psychological Association. “NYU was among the many New York City institutions dramatically affected by 9/11, and, through this issue, we hope to offer not only first-person accounts stemming from the tragedy, but also professional expertise and analysis on the larger issues the attacks brought to our community.”
Traumatology editor Charles Figley, director of the Tulane University Traumatology Institute, asked the authors to consider three questions in a 4,000- word essay:
What did you experience during and as a consequence of the September 11th attacks in New York City?
What did you learn based on these experiences?
What are the additional lessons, based on your knowledge of the trauma and consequences of 9/11 from your field(s) of study?
President John Sexton, in an essay titled “The Day Before,” relates a personal story from September 10, 2001 that chronicles the role chance plays in life. Linda Mills, NYU’s senior vice provost for undergraduates in the Global Network University, and her family were living three blocks from the World Trade Center on 9/11. The journal includes a letter to her then-five-year-old son—dated September 15, 2002—that was written to give him a log of the family’s 9/11 experiences. Judith Greenberg, who teaches literature at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, penned “That Was Then; This is Now, or, A Wound Still Simmers,” which conveys her personal experience of 9/11 as well as that of her students and how one’s story changes over time
Carol Tosone, a professor in NYU’s Silver School of Social Work, asks what happens in the case of shared trauma—when the helper is also a victim. She considers this question by relating her personal 9/11 narrative and its impact on her professional development as well as that of her students. Barbra Zuck Locker, a faculty member in NYU’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis program, authored “2001—A Spaced Odyssey: Associating and Dissociating with 9/11,” which includes both personal and clinical vignettes. In “To Tame This Feral Man: Dissociation as an Antidote for Terror,” Alpert discusses her personal 9/11 experience and the roles she assumed in dealing with the crisis within her professional capacity.To download four of the issue’s articles, click here.
(Photo: Graduation in the Park, 2000, Debra Weinstein)