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What is a Disaster? Or, Why It is a Bad Idea to Yell “Fire!” in a Movie Theatre.

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Presentation on theme: "What is a Disaster? Or, Why It is a Bad Idea to Yell “Fire!” in a Movie Theatre."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is a Disaster? Or, Why It is a Bad Idea to Yell “Fire!” in a Movie Theatre

2 dfk The Smiths, Panic dfk Q_A Kaiser Chiefs, I Predict a Riot Q_A H_NY Foxboro Hot Tubs, Stop Drop and Roll H_NY ymc Wakey! Wakey! 1876, The Brooklyn Theatre Fire ymc

3 Coming to Terms: Definition from the Oxford English Dictionary: “ Disaster: Anything that befalls of ruinous or distressing nature; a sudden or great misfortune, mishap, or misadventure; a calamity.” Etymology: something happening under a bad star.

4 What constitutes a disaster may be difficult to define, but examples can help us to think about what characterizes them: Spatially Temporally In terms of who is affected by them and how In terms of how people respond to them (their effect on subjects) – Individually – Collectively – Over time

5 What disasters does Joanna Bourke write about in the chapter we read of her 2005 book Fear: A Cultural History?

6 The Iroquois Theatre Fire, 1903

7 Great Chicago Fire, 1871 Taking place over two full days and killing hundreds of people, the Great Fire burned over 10 square kilometres of the city of Chicago.

8 The Tay Bridge Disaster, 1879

9 “It was sad when the great ship went down...” The Titanic Sinking,1912

10 The Halifax Explosion, 1917 2000 killed, 9000 injured

11 How does Bourke define “disaster”?

12 When Bourke writes that disasters force individuals and communities to face a corporeal, material, and moral threat (p. 52), what does she mean?

13 The natural vs. the human-made The Earthquake in Haiti, 2010: 320,000 people dead, 1 million homeless. The Hindenburg Disaster, 1937 YY0xw5r1ro&feature=fvsr

14 The Sudden.... The Boston Molasses Explosion, 1919 The Hillsborough Football Disaster, 1989. 96 people died.

15 The Chronic The Fukushima Meltdown in Japan, 2011, and the Bhopal Disaster of 1984 stand as examples of chronic or long- term disasters.

16 Affecting the few vs. affecting many The crash of US Airways Flight 1549 (Captain Sullenberger) in the Hudson River in 2009 nd the Financial Meltdown, coming to an economy near you since 2008.

17 Economies of Blame Who or what is seen to be responsible for the disaster? How does the decision about who or what is to blame influence the meaning that the disaster will be given? For some time, disasters have been thought to have a didactic function. What does this mean?

18 Bourke cites a number of different ways that the causes of and responses to disasters have been studied. What are they? What links each of them together?

19 The Social Psychology of the Disaster Gustav Le Bon The Crowd (1895) Urbanization led to dramatic changes in the ways that people live These changes meant that humans were confronted by a new social influence, that of the crowd The crowd can and does influence the responses that people will have to real and perceived threats The crowd may also be influenced by external forces

20 Stereotyping Panic Bourke outlines a number of studies that suggest that particular types of people will be more susceptible to panic than others. By the standards of today, the central assumptions of these studies would be roundly criticized. They assumed that panic was more likely to occur in certain groups of people. Which people? What stereotypes did these assumptions rely on?

21 Technologies Responding to the Disaster Architecture Law and regulation – eg. Tort Law, Building Codes Insurance Education Media Others?

22 Case Study: The War of the Worlds Broadcast (1939) QpQ QpQ

23 Hadley Cantril’s Study of the Panic Broadcast Princeton Radio Research Project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation Study on WotW Broadcast called The Invasion from Mars, A Study in the Psychology of Panic (1940) Asked who panicked and why Surprising findings that a person’s suggestibility was not based on class or gender or race, but was a result of a variety of factors that are difficult to capture empirically


25 Workshop: Writing with Concision "I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil," Truman Capote once said. In other words, what we cut out of our writing is sometimes more important than what we put in.

26 5 Strategies for Writing Concisely: 1) Use Active Verbs Whenever possible, make the subject of a sentence do something. Wordy: The grant proposals were reviewed by the students. Revised: The students reviewed the grant proposals.

27 2) Don't Try to Show Off Don't presume that big words or lengthy phrases will impress your readers: often the simplest word is the best. Wordy: At this moment in time, students who are matriculating through high school should be empowered to participate in the voting process. Revised: High school students should have the right to vote.

28 3) Cut Empty Phrases Some of the most common phrases mean little, if anything, and should be cut from our writing: all things considered, as a matter of fact, as far as I am concerned, at the present time, in society, for the most part, in my opinion, type of, it seems that, due to the fact that Wordy: All things being equal, what I am trying to say is that in my opinion all students should, in the final analysis, have the right to vote for all intents and purposes. Revised: Students should have the right to vote.

29 4) Avoid Using Noun Forms of Verbs This process is called "excessive nominalization” Wordy: The presentation of the arguments by the students was convincing. Revised: The students presented their arguments convincingly. Or... The students argued convincingly.

30 5) Replace Vague Nouns Replace vague nouns (such as area, aspect, case, factor, manner, situation, something, thing, type, and way) with more specific words--or eliminate them altogether. Wordy: After reading several things in the area of psychology-type subjects, I decided to put myself in a situation where I might change my major. Revised: After reading several psychology books, I decided to change my major.

31 Other strategies from the Handbook: 1) Eliminate unnecessary words -- does what you have written still make sense when a word is eliminated? If so, it may not be necessary. 2) Get rid of empty intensifiers – does what you are saying need to be “very”, “extremely” anything?

32 3) Reduce and shorten wordy phrases 4) Simplify complex sentences 5) Use positive constructions not not not negative ones 6) Simplify your sentence structure... But be careful. As Einstein once said, “Make things simple, not simpler.”

33 The Right Word at the Right Time Avoid colloquialisms Avoid slang Avoid being redundant Be sure you know what the word you are using means Don’t let spell-check decide the word for you; proof-read it yourself Avoid generalizations and stereotypes

34 Avoid Common Errors Such as Mistaking... Your and You’re Its and it’s Their and they’re Bear and bare Cite, sight, and site Coarse and course Council and counsel Complement and compliment Hear and here Which and witch Whether and weather Where and were Accept and except Affect and effect

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