New Orleans has always been a place not only full of magnificent music but also literature. One may remember Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner as the city’s most famous literary sons, but an interesting new field of literature emerged after Hurricane Katrina. Edith Kreutner, a student from Innsbruck University is working on Post-Katrina literature for her PhD project. She looks into the cultural reception of the traumatic catastrophe of August 2005 by analyzing the unique literary works that were published about the event itself and about life in its aftermath.
Although books can travel across the Atlantic and Edith brought many of them to Innsbruck after her previous stay at the UNO in 2007, her project required fieldwork in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast. During her visit in July, she interviewed several authors, singers/songwriters, literary theorists and newspaper journalists as well as the Average Joe of New Orleans.
With Center Austria as her home base, she ventured out to meet many people who took to writing after the hurricane and she also got a very important first hand impression of what life is like in New Orleans in 2009. Edith was furthermore very happy to have been introduced to two other Austrians working on Katrina - sharing ideas and widening horizons is always beneficial. After the completion of her fieldwork in New Orleans, she travelled to those major US cities that had sheltered many of those in need after the hurricane. Katrina triggered the biggest Diaspora of US-American history and Edith also wants to include this aspect in her work.