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Christina Simko is a cultural and historical sociologist with particular interests in political culture, collective memory, and social theory. She completed her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Virginia in May 2013.
Her current book project—tentatively titled The Politics of Consolation: Mourning, Memory, and the Meaning of September 11—is an historical and sociological account of American political consolation. Delving into the political speechmaking that has accompanied national crises from the American founding to the present, the project identifies symbolic and existential tasks at the heart of political life. Following events such as Pearl Harbor, the Challenger explosion, and the Oklahoma City bombing, Americans have continually looked to political leaders to provide orientation and solace—to reflect on the meaning of suffering and the place of evil in the world. The wide-ranging historical narrative begins with the American Revolution and culminates with the 2013 Boston marathon bombing. At the heart of the study, however, is an in-depth analysis of the rhetorical and commemorative response to September 11 that carefully documents the interplay between past and present, considering the particular challenges of political consolation our own polarized age.
Christina’s article, “Rhetorics of Suffering: September 11 Commemorations as Theodicy,” recently appeared in the American Sociological Review. This article was also awarded the 2012 Suzanne Langer Prize from the American Sociological Association’s Culture Section.