Date of Award

Winter 3-24-2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Julie Nicoletta


The attacks on September 11, 2001 were a devastating and shocking event that was observed on live television throughout the world. This event was traumatic for those that watched it on television, knew about it, and saw it in person in New York City and Washington D.C. The impacts on the American government have been profound, with emphasis placed on security, aggressiveness, war, and surveillance. These changes occurred in the United States following a studied phenomenon called cultural trauma, where a society reacts as if it were a person traumatized by an event. This can have a significant effect on both a culture’s development and the media it produces.

By examining blockbuster films produced and released before and after the September 11 attacks, one can compare them and find the differences between them. These post-9/11 films show that American society is more fascinated with the new reality of major destruction in urban centers, the possibility of imminent danger to the individual from foreign threats, and the reality of a new warlike environment within their cities. All of these effects are reflected by the media that Americans watch, and is most reflected in large blockbuster films due to their huge production costs and film crews who create spectacles to be watched by the largest audience possible. This psychological view of trauma is important in the context of history because it allows the examination of societal trauma as the world enters the twenty-first century.