Although Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on a Monday morning 10 years ago, its after-effects had been decades in the making, according to disaster history expert and Tulane School of Liberal Arts history professor Andy Horowitz.
Horowitz recently won the Southern Historical Association’s C. Vann Woodward Prize for best dissertation in Southern history. “My dissertation focused on the causes and consequences of disaster in greater New Orleans over the past century,” Horowitz explained. Horowitz, an assistant professor of history at Tulane, received his PhD from Yale University in 2014.
In awarding him the prize, judges raved about his dissertation, saying: “The project is at once timely and deeply historical, demonstrating persuasively that recent natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina need to be understood as long run historical processes and not simply as isolated meteorological events. Horowitz weaves together a dazzling variety of topics and types of history (environmental, social, cultural, and political), and supports it with suitably broad research--including oral histories he conducted himself. And he presents all those pieces with writing that is always clear, lively, and compelling.”
Horowitz brings this passion and broad understanding to the Tulane classroom. In his innovative seminar course this fall, The Katrina Disaster Now, Tulane students explored Katrina as a political, cultural and environmental event in the history of New Orleans, the United States and beyond. The dynamic class included field trips and guest lectures; it was funded through the William L. Duren ’26 Professorship and the generosity of an anonymous donor.
The culminating event in The Katrina Disaster Now course brought together an array of Hurricane Katrina survivors on Tulane’s uptown campus Nov. 17.
“The speakers who joined us that evening and at other points during the semester were all moving, generous, provocative, and wise,” Horowitz said. “We at Tulane are privileged to have such an extraordinary city to learn from.”
Participants in the Nov. 17 program included a clarinetist, a poet, public housing and environmental advocates, a Charity Hospital doctor, a Tulane alumnus, a librarian, a construction worker, a photographer and a teacher. In speeches that lasted about five minutes, each Louisianian reflected on what the phrase ‘the Katrina disaster now’ means to them.
Attendees filled Freeman Auditorium for an experience that many in the audience found to be intellectually compelling and deeply moving. They even lingered in the 1834 Club for nearly two hours to continue the discussion over dinner.