"Every hurricane leaves you with different priorities": preparation, cultural response, and narrative entitlement

Fugarino, Virginia S. (2015) "Every hurricane leaves you with different priorities": preparation, cultural response, and narrative entitlement. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The United States Gulf Coast is a region with a long-standing history of hurricanes. As such, the residents of this region have a wide variety of experiences in dealing with the threats and actualities of hurricanes. Although the region has experienced numerous storms in its history, this discussion focuses on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005) and Hurricane Ike (2008). Central to this discussion is the idea that safety is a concern important to all people involved before a hurricane but that the expressions of this concern can vary both on an institutional and individual level. In this way, this thesis looks at preparation both from a media perspective (as media presents a construction of preparation based upon using official sources) and from the residents’ perspectives. News articles from the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Houston Chronicle are drawn from the days leading up to hurricane landfall—the period when preparation messaging is prominent in the media. Content analysis of these articles (influenced by Zhang and Fleming 2005 and Choi and Lin 2008) develops a sense of the media narrative of preparation. In juxtaposition, this thesis also examines residents’ approaches of hurricane preparation through analysis of personal experience narratives. Through fieldwork interviews and archival research, this thesis analyzes narratives from the Greater New Orleans and Houston areas. The analysis of the media narratives and the personal narratives underscore that preparation is a complex issue. Using the concepts of master narrative (e.g., Lyotard 1979, Lawless 2001 and 2003) and narrative entitlement (e.g., Shuman 2005 and 2006), this thesis proposes that there are areas of resistance and cooperation between the two kinds of narratives. The media narrative, which is often constructed using the perspectives of “officials” (government, meteorologists, etc.), creates an “authoritative” messaging of how residents should prepare, but the residents’ themselves, with experiences of their own to draw from and their own perspectives on the appropriate responses to storm threats, may respond in ways that do not align with the official recommendation. As part of this interplay between official and lay narratives, the discussion proposes the idea that the “narrative of pre-victimization” may be at play in some official communications. This narrative places residents within a narrative space in which they may be doomed to fall prey to a hurricane if they do not follow official recommendations. This thesis adds to the disaster folklore literature by extending research on hurricanes by considering multiple storms in its scope. It contributes to the discussion of interactions between media and personal narrative. This discussion also opens up the discussion of hurricane stories to include preparation as a useful area of narrative study.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9738
Item ID: 9738
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 201-222).
Keywords: folklore, personal experience narrative, hurricane, preparation
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: October 2015
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Hurricanes in mass media; Hurricane Katrina, 2005--Personal narratives; Hurricane Rita, 2005--Personal narratives; Hurricane Ike, 2008--Personal narratives

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