Humanities in Class: Webinar Series

Defining Disasters: How Rhetoric Shapes our Understanding and Response to Hazards

Lead Scholar: Liz Skilton (Assistant Professor, University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

January 24, 2019

We’ve all heard the phrase “”there is no such thing as a natural disaster,”” thought about the ways an event was portrayed in the media, or were impacted by an incident in our hometowns, but in what ways did the rhetoric of an incident shape your response or understanding of what was happening? Delve deep into disaster history starting with the ways we have sought to understand it: through the language we use to describe it.

This webinar reviews the impact of the language we use to describe hazards and risk on everything from our understanding and response to policy. Readings will review historical definitions of disaster, looking at the way these definitions shape our policy, perspectives, and understanding of risk, and examine key moments where rhetoric shaped disasters.

Subjects: Linguistics; History; Natural Disasters; Hazards; Rhetoric; Mass Media; Public Policy