Department Chair

Lisa Berglund, Ph.D., Chair and Professor of English

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

English, M.A.


English Department


Jennifer Ryan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English

Department Home page

First Reader

Jennifer Ryan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English

Second Reader

Barish Ali, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English


Don DeLillo’s Falling Man addresses cultural changes within the age of postmodern indifference and global terror, as the reaction to the image of a falling body becomes controversial following the events of 9/11. After being initially removed by the media, Richard Drew’s provocative photo titled “The Falling Man” captures a body falling against the backdrop of the World Trade Center, and is recovered and reexamined in DeLillo’s novel. Several types of bodily disturbances are illuminated in Falling Man as the fictional bodies of both American citizens and foreign terrorists become susceptible to strange mutations and disarticulations. DeLillo uses the bodily form as a reference point to expose and analyze the hidden atrocities of American exceptionalism—a system that accepts and allows actual human bodies to become the waste by-product of these global exchanges. Image and reality have become blurred in the era of postmodernity, and the outrage over Drew’s intriguing photo immediately after 9/11 should raise suspicion as to this image’s cultural significance. By encompassing a strange mix of bodily concerns such as viral infections, detached faces, and the unique phenomenon of organic shrapnel, DeLillo unearths the suffering body from its hiding place and brings to the forefront again in Falling Man.