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Katrina literary scholar to present at Louisiana Studies Conference in Natchitoches

An English professor from Plano, Texas, will give Friday’s keynote address about the evolution of the Hurricane Katrina literary genre at Northwestern State University’s Louisiana Studies Conference. It runs through Saturday, Sept. 12.

Lisa Kirby directs the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College. Kirby studies literature about blue-collar workers and class structure in America. She’s been consuming the deluge of literary works and documentaries that came after Katrina.

“It’s almost overwhelming at times to see how much has been written about it. Of course, that’s not even mentioning all the critical works that have examined the media representations of Katrina, the media response, and the political aspects of it,” Kirby said. “There’s a lot to work with there. It’s a really wonderful area to be researching in.”

Kirby says Hurricane Katrina was an event of such epic proportions that it’s difficult for writers to wrap their minds around it. She says that’s why many works embrace the human toll.

“If you break it down into the personal stories and the testimony of the victims and the survivors, I think we begin to see that it really is a story of survival and it’s a story about what it means to be an American and what our responsibilities as Americans are,” Kirby said.

Kirby hopes new works will delve deeper into the Katrina Diaspora – stories of evacuees who never returned to New Orleans.

Kirby’s 60-minute multimedia presentation is titled “The Crossroads of a Genre: Exploring the Innovation of Hurricane Katrina Literature and Popular Culture.” It begins at 6 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall.

This is the 7th annual Louisiana Studies Conference and the theme is Louisiana cultural crossroads. The conference is free and open to the public.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.