“Of biblical proportions”: Flood Motifs in Personal Narratives of Katrina Survivors

Kate Parker Horigan (Western Kentucky University)

This paper examines flood motifs in personal narratives of Hurricane Katrina survivors, particularly Motif A1018, Flood as punishment, and Motif A1020, Escape from deluge. Contrary to expectations regarding “modern” explanations of disaster, mythological flood motifs are a dynamic resource in contemporary vernacular interpretations of catastrophe. These motifs serve survivors in at least two ways: first, they offer a category of experience appropriate in its enormous scale; second, they enable reflection on what is valuable and what is not valuable, before and after the storm—who deserves punishment, and what ought to be saved.

Part of 04-04 Weatherlore, Part 1: Weather and Belief, Friday, October 14, 8:30 am–10:00 am