Learning How to Fall : Art and Culture after September 11 book cover
1st Edition

Learning How to Fall
Art and Culture after September 11

ISBN 9781138796898
Published December 18, 2014 by Routledge
228 Pages

USD $49.95

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Book Description

Beginning with Richard Drew’s controversial photograph of a man falling from the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, Learning How to Fall investigates the changing relationship between world events and their subsequent documentation, asking:


  • Does the mediatization of the event overwhelm the fact of the event itself?
  • How does the mode by which information is disseminated alter the way in which we perceive such information?
  • How does this impact upon our memory of an event?


T. Nikki Cesare Schotzko posits contemporary art and performance as not only a stylized re-envisioning of daily life but, inversely, as a viable means by which one might experience and process real-world political and social events. This approach combines two concurrent and contradictory trends in aesthetics, narrative, and dramaturgy: the dramatization of real-world events so as to broaden the commercial appeal of those events in both mainstream and alternative media, and the establishment of a more holistic relationship between politically and aesthetically motivated modes of disseminating and processing information.


By presenting engaging and diverse case studies from both the art world and popular culture – including Aliza Shvarts’s censored senior thesis at Yale University, Kerry Skarbakka’s provocative photographs of falling, Didier Morelli’s crawl through Toronto, and Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom – Learning How to Fall creates a new understanding of the relationship between the event and its documentation, where even the truth of an event might be called into question.

Table of Contents



List of Illustrations

Additional Citations


  1. Preface Always Ever Falling
  2. Introduction The Economy of the Event
  3. Chapter One If Not Falling Then Flying: Richard Drew’s Falling Man and The Politics of Witnessing
  4. Chapter Two The Untruth of Style: From Abramović to Bradshaw and Back Again
  5. Chapter Three Not Yet Finished, Never Yet Begun: Aliza Shvarts, the Girl from West Virginia, and the Consequence of Doubt
  6. Chapter Four Speaking Truth to Stupid: Aaron Sorkin’s Episode "5/1" and the Reassignment of Truth
  7. Chapter Five How Time Flies: A Chronometry of the Fall
  8. Afterword Afterword, After Phelan: Notes on Love, for My Students


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T. Nikki Cesare Schotzko is an Assistant Professor in the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto.