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Elaine Scarry: "Nine One One: Citizenship in Emergency"

Presidential Lecturer

Harvard University's Elaine Scarry, professor of aesthetics and the general theory of value, discussed the topic of the use of United States military power. Although a professor of literature, Scarry's interests range far and wide. She has written on torture and the language of physical pain, war, nuclear weapons, airplane crashes, and on beauty and flowers. In her lecture, focusing on the events of September 11, 2001, she argued that the authority of both Congress and U.S. citizens has been eroding rapidly since the advent of weapons of mass destruction. She rejected the contention that democratic machinery works too slowly to respond to national threats, arguing that antidotes are needed to the acceleration of the action of weapons in a nuclear age. This speed has rendered meaningless the constitutional authority to declare war granted to Congress. Genuine democracy functioned over Pennsylvania on United Airlines flight 93, while the military showed little ability to respond properly to the threats to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. 



Monday, February 25, 2002. 06:00 PM