New Orleans: Urban History

Teacher: Shannon Morocco
Extra Help: Tuesdays, Room 205, 3-4pm

Course Overview: 

In the New Orleans elective course students will  learn about the history, people and culture of this remarkable city through powerful personal narratives.  Emphasis will be placed on identifying what makes New Orleans so unique and distinct from other American cities, one that encompasses its coined phrase “Let the good times roll.”   Mardi Gras celebrations energize and fuel the city of above ground cemeteries, jazz, cajun and creole cultures and vast diversity seen in its ethnic groups and social classes.  Coursework will focus on an urban study of its history, neighborhoods, architecture and music.  As we explore the city, commonly referred to as the the Crescent City, we will immerse ourselves in the various perspectives of New Orleanians and examine its complex racial and socioeconomic dynamics.  Throughout the course, students will view numerous documentaries and read a variety of fiction and nonfiction stories.   Once we develop a deep understanding of the city itself, we will evaluate how the city was affected by, responded and recovered from Hurricane Katrina.  In doing so, we will investigate  how the disaster devastated the city, its tourism, economy and education system.  We will also analyze the government’s responsibility in natural disasters, its successes and failures regarding Hurricane Katrina and map out our own emergency response plans.  Ultimately, we will recognize  the effects of Katrina on New Orleans by reading personal narratives and watching testimonies of those who survived the storm, many whose stories capture modern heroism and are a testament to the great community and spirit of the Big Easy.  

Class Meets:

Block A - Mondays Period 1, Tuesday Period 3, Thursday Period 4

Block B - Mondays Period 2, Wednesday Period 2, Friday Period 2

Course Essential Questions:

  • What does it mean to be culturally unique?

  • What impact (both short and long-term) do natural disasters have on an urban environment, its people and its culture?

  • What is the meaning of a place like New Orleans?  What is lost if it is lost?