Dr Arin Keeble
“Katrina Time: An Aggregation of Political Rhetoric in the Cultural Response to Hurricane Katrina”
This paper argues that the cultural response to Hurricane Katrina is often characterized by an aggregation of political discourse and rhetoric, which, in addition to expressing anger at the government’s handling of the post-Katrina flooding of New Orleans, also responds to the social and political realities of the aftermath of 9/11 and the War on Terror. Hurricane Katrina, therefore, becomes a moment when the politics of 9/11, which have been buried in narratives of trauma, mourning and commemoration, rise explicitly to the surface. This paper will focus specifically on Dave Egger’s work of narrative non-fiction, Zeitoun (2009), and the way it revises the conservative rhetoric of disaster, apocalypse and regeneration in Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road (2006), offering an alternative vision of pluralism and tolerance. It will examine the way Zeitoun comments on the way The Road’’s response to catastrophe is retrograde, relying on Manichean tropes of good and evil and a clearly Christian image of apocalypse and regeneration. The comparison leaves us with a peculiar inversion: an act of extreme political violence is depoliticized by its cultural response, while a natural disaster is overtly politicized.
Arin Keeble is a Visiting Tutor at Bishop Grosseteste and a Teaching Assistant at Newcastle University where he was recently awarded his doctorate. He has published three major peer-reviewed articles on the cultural representation of 9/11 and is currently preparing the manuscript for his first monograph. Arin is also developing a new programme of research centred on the cultural response to Hurricane Katrina and is co-editing a new collection of essays on David Simon’s The Wire.
Dr Keeble’s talk will begin at 2pm. The event takes place in 217 in the Skinner Building (13.45 – 15.00) and starts light refreshments. All are welcome.