The Characterization of 9/11 and America’s Response to Terrorism

Adam Hodges

in The “War on Terror” Narrative

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199759590
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895335 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics

The Characterization of 9/11 and America’s Response to Terrorism

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This chapter examines how the generic framework of a nation at war provides a highly recognizable template for narrating the ‘war on terror.’ The interpretation of 9/11 as an ‘act of war’ flows from the linguistic realization of the war metaphor, which helps situate the narrative within the genre of war. The details of the ‘war on terror’ are then fleshed out through the use of analogies with past conflicts in the nation’s history. These historical precedents—namely, World War II and the Cold War—act as exploitable source domains in the formulation of new understandings about the struggle against terrorism. They provide exemplars of the generic war script, and comparisons with these models work to naturalize America’s response to terrorism as a ‘war on terror.’

Keywords: analogy; genre; metaphor; narrative; war on terror

Chapter.  8549 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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