Tempered by Flame: Heroism, Nationalism, and the New York Firefighter on 9/11 and Beyond

Tempered by Flame: Heroism, Nationalism, and the New York Firefighter on 9/11 and Beyond

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This project seeks to interrogate the cultural figure of the firefighter as an embodiment of national heroism after 9/11. The firefighter was uniquely able to both literally and symbolically combat the ideological crises brought about by the terrorist attacks of 2001, becoming a screen upon which the hopes and fears of the nation have been projected. Although the figure of the firefighter may appear uncomplicated due to its relatively simple purpose---to protect lives and property from fire and other disasters---the struggles that have occurred around this figure are indicative of fissures in the ways that citizens come to understand heroism, the nation, and citizens' role within it. In a sense, national heroes can be understood as embodying the nation itself, simultaneously reflecting and constituting its values through their efforts on behalf of an appreciative public. It is precisely this close association with the nation that can be considered problematic, however, as the figure of the firefighter does not simply honor the nation, but also celebrates heterosexual, white, working-class masculinity. Paradoxically, this embodiment allows the firefighter to function as a qsafeq representative of the nation and which limits the imaginative possibilities of national membership and participation. If heroes can be thought of as ultimate citizens, and if their embodiment reflects the subjectivity of only a few of members of the public, then the same heroes that offer so much ideological support during crisis may in fact become sources of crisis. To this end, this project examines the construction and deployment of the firefighter through a variety of cultural products ranging from political speeches to popular films and television shows to debates over memorialization of this figure. Through a consideration of these texts, I attempt to explain why it is that this figure has managed to remain salient within the nation even years after the attacks and how this figure contributes to an understanding of not only heroism, but the nation itself.... for Career Research, Career as a Firefighter: Fire Prevention (2002); Department of Labor, aquot;Wages, aquot; New York State, ... Last Man Down: A Firefightera#39;s Story of Survival and Escape from the World Trade Center (New York: Berkeley Books, anbsp;...

Title:Tempered by Flame: Heroism, Nationalism, and the New York Firefighter on 9/11 and Beyond
Author:Cynthia Rene Willis
Publisher:ProQuest - 2006


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