This September marks the 10th anniversary of the day terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. While a significant event of my generation, I feel disconnected from it; the passage of time has numbed me–and Americans, I think–from September 11’s impact. We’ve gotten used to how things are, some times forgetting why. To shack off that numbness, read essays and articles from the months after September 11th. Regina M. Buccola’s ‘”When All the Riches of the World Stand Waste…”‘ describes WAC working hard in a time of tragedy.
The title of this essays comes from an Anglo-Saxon alliterative poem called “The Wanderer”. Buccola reads this poem to her class the day after September 11th. Too often I hear my friends ask me, “What’s the point of writing and literature when I want to be a musician, or “What’s the point of writing and literature when I’m going to be a mechanic?” In this moment of tragedy, Buccola can get the point of literature across to her students in her British literature survet class. Because of September 11th, they were open to how it works. Reading “The Wanderer” was a great idea because it conveyed a common human event: decay, destruction, changing times, yearning for the past.
“We write to record our thoughts,” explains Buccola, “and we think in order to understand our very existence. Writing—whether in alliterative verse or philosophical prose—is an inextricable part of the human condition. Never before had it been so easy to get students to understand the importance, the value of poetry.” I love that statement because she articulates what I’ve tried to tell my friends. I also love that texts like “The Wanderer” “was actually preserved because of its theological or historical value and not necessarily for its literary merits.”
With this in mind, Buccola combines creative writing, literature, and history: the students must write a historical narrative about September 11th using allerative verse. This idea is fantastic; students get to be creative but also participat in a writing technique that dates back thousands of years. Even more fantastic, Buccola writes she does this often. I wish my survey classes did this, because students need more stimulus than five question quizes, idenitification exams, and two papers. A work can be more rewarding if it requires some creativity–than the works becomes your own. Something positive came out of this tragic event.