Emotional Public: <i>Treme</i> as Post-Katrina Trauma Narrative

  • Outi J. Hakola University of Helsinki
Keywords: Treme, cultural trauma, Hurricane Katrina, television narrative, emotional public sphere


Cultural traumas are social, discursive and narrative processes where traumatic events, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and their memories are described and interpreted. In fiction, in this case in HBO’s drama series Treme (2010-2013), trauma-related experiences are given meaning through narration, and in this mediation process collective memories are constructed. In this article, I analyze the ways in which the narration of Treme represents loss and remembering. I argue that by emphasizing sentimental nostalgia and the emotional reactions of the characters, the narration aims to create sympathy and empathy in the viewers, and in this way the drama series creates an emotional public sphere for the discussions over the rebuilding of post-Katrina New Orleans.

Author Biography

Outi J. Hakola, University of Helsinki
Outi J. Hakola is an Academy of Finland Research Fellow at the Area and Cultural Studies, University of Helsinki. Her background is in media and literature studies. Her research concentrates on questions of emotions and representations of death, and politics of humor in media. Her recent books include Death and Mortality: From Individual to Communal Perspectives (edited together with Sara Heinämaa and Sami Pihlström, COLLeGIUM, 2015) and Rhetoric of Modern Death in American Living Dead Films (Intellect / Chicago University Press, 2015). She can be reached at: outi.j.hakola@helsinki.fi.