Betsy. Camille. Andrew. Katrina. Harvey. Maria. They are names we remember, they are names we cannot forget, but why?
Tempest: Hurricane Naming and American Culture (released June 2019 by LSU Press) answers the perennial question—why do we name hurricanes—and a few more in recounting six decades of hurricane history in American culture.
A blend of gender studies and environmental history Tempest is an innovative study of Americans’ tracking and understanding of hurricanes and other disasters illustrating that hurricane names matter as they fundamentally shape our impressions of storms, for good and bad.
Praise for Tempest
From Inside the Book Cover
"Liz Skilton began her research with a simple question: why do we name hurricanes? In answering that question, she provides a fascinating tour of American government, society and culture in the twentieth century, and today. You will think differently about the next hurricane (and other disasters) after reading this engaging book." ―Matthew Mulcahy, author of Hurricanes and Society in the British Greater Caribbean, 1624-1783
“Tempest: Hurricane Naming and American Culture is an original and insightful account of gender and hurricane history―an eminently readable cultural analysis of the approximately two-and-a-half decades when these violent storms received exclusively female names.”―James Rodger Fleming, author of Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control
“Liz Skilton’s Tempest: Hurricane Naming and American Culture offers a highly imaginative blend of environmental history and gender studies. It is difficult to imagine that anyone could do a better job of turning a seemingly narrow topic into a major exploration of American cultural history in the post–World War II era. Skilton is a skilled writer and an even better historian, and the insights she offers will change the way environmental scholars deal with the cultural construction of storms and other ‘natural’ phenomena.”―Raymond Arsenault, coeditor of Paradise Lost? The Environmental History of Florida
Tempest in the Media
Listen to Liz Skilton discuss Tempest on the Bayou to Beltway program on KRVS, June 19, 2019. (Available here)
About the show — “This week Bayou to Beltway talks with historian and author Dr. Liz Skilton about her recent book, Tempest: Hurricane Naming and American Culture. Dr. Skilton's book focuses on the connection between hurricanes and popular culture, matching the history of naming hurricanes with trends in American society including disaster fiction, the Cold War, the feminist movement, and increasing technological mastery of the environment. Our interview focuses on the hurricanes that have impacted this area like Betsy, Harvey and Katrinia while talking about those whose impact extends across America (Camille and Sandy).
If you're interested in hurricanes and their connection with American culture, listen to this engaging interview with author and historian Dr. Liz Skilton on KRVS 88.7 fm right after Out to Lunch. Bayou to Beltway broadcasts at 12:30 Wednesday and 5:30 Saturdays. Also available on podcast at KRVS.org (Thursday)”
Read an excerpt from Tempest, “Feminists Prevail; Meet the Himmicane,” on blog Picturing Meteorology, June 1, 2019. (Available here)
Read an article featuring Tempest and others discussing the history of naming hurricanes after women, on The Lily (Washington Post). (Available here)
I am available to give invited lectures. To schedule one, please use the contact info through the Events & Contact Info page.
March 2018, Louisiana State University-Alexandria, Invited Lecturer
March 2018, Tulane University, Invited Lecturer
March 2019, McNeese State University, Invited Lecturer
June 2019, Octavia Books, Book Launch Event