SSI1 135

Hurricane Katrina and the History of New Orleans

This course investigates how Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the 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 course provides 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 and segregation; the resulting 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 environmental history of the city and its levee system; and the New Orleans' history of political corruption. The second half of the course places Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in their historical context, allowing students to explore the impact of the past in the construction of this unnatural disaster, to engage with the social, cultural, environmental economic, political, legal and public policy aspects of the catastrophe, and to explore a range of academic, artistic, and popular sources. As a Seminar in Scholarly Inquiry the course focuses on the methods used for these explorations. Students will talk very intentionally about how scholars go about their work, sharpen their skills in asking and answering questions, practice arguing and defending ideas, and regularly present their work in oral and written forms. Satisfying the KNOW graduation requirement, the course also places special emphasis on the intersections of knowledge, identity and power and emphasizes the development of students' capacities to engage with these challenging issues. Affiliate department: History.