Thanks, Les for sending this in.
New URI course to focus on impact of 9/11 on literature
01:00 AM EST on Friday, November 24, 2006
By Jennifer D. Jordan
Journal Staff Writer
Prof. Alain-Philippe Durand knew he had hit a nerve when his French class
at the University of Rhode Island discussed a controversial novel about
9/11, Windows on the World, two years ago.
The book, written by Frederick Beigbeder, was then only available in
French. Durand hoped its provocative subject — an imagining of the
terror and violence that transpired in the North Tower just as the first
plane hit the World Trade Center — would spark lively debate in the
French conversation class.
But the professor said he was not prepared for the intensity of the
discussion or the complexity of the issues it revealed.
“The students were divided into two camps. One side said, ‘Who does
this guy think he is …. This Frenchman thinks he knows more about the
U.S. than we do,’ ” said Durand. “The other half of the class was
completely the opposite. They thought a novel on this should have been
The University of New Hampshire is refusing to fire a tenured professor whose views on 9/11 have led many politicians in the state to demand his dismissal.
William Woodward, a professor of psychology, is among those academics who believe that U.S. leaders have lied about what they know about 9/11, and were involved in a conspiracy that led to the massive deaths on that day, setting the stage for the war with Iraq. The Union Leader, a New Hampshire newspaper, reported on Woodward’s views on Sunday, and quoted him (accurately, he says) saying that he includes his views in some class sessions.
The newspaper then interviewed a who’s who of New Hampshire Republican politicians calling for the university to fire Woodward. U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg is quoted as saying that “there are limitations to academic freedom and freedom of speech” and that “it is inappropriate for someone at a public university which is supported with taxpayer dollars to take positions that are generally an affront to the sensibility of most all Americans.”
State legislators chimed in, demanding Woodward’s dismissal and threatening to consider the issue when they next review the university’s budget. In some respects, the political reactions mirror those in Wisconsin, where lawmakers lined up to urge the University of Wisconsin at Madison to fire Kevin Barrett, who shared Woodward’s views and is an adjunct teaching in the fall semester. The university is letting Barrett’s course go ahead, although as a non-tenured adjunct, he has no assurance of work after this semester.