These seminars investigate how Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf coast in 2005, might be understood as an "unnatural disaster" through a consideration of the history of the city and the region. The first half of the courses provide context for the catastrophe, exploring a wide range of topics and issues, including for instance the development of the city's creole culture; the role of New Orleans in the history of slavery, segregation, and the struggle for civil rights; the evolution of the city's ethnic geography; the growth and importance of jazz in the city and region; the role of Mardi Gras and its attendant tourist economy; the enviornmental history of cthe city and its levee system; and New Orleans' history of political corruption. The second half of the courses place Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in this historical context, allowing students to explore the impact of the past in the construction of this unnatural disaster. Students engage with the social, cultural, environmental, economic, political, legal and public policy aspects of the catasrophe, and explore a range of academic, artistic, and popular sources. As Seminars in Scholarly Inquiry, the courses focus on how scholars go about their work. Students sharpen their skills in asking and answering questions, practice arguing and defending their ideas, develop their skills in collaborative learning, and present their work regularly in oral and written forms.
Affiliate department: History.