“One of the unique and exciting things about the Louisiana Studies Conference is that it is so interdisciplinary, with scholars from a wide variety of disciplines having in depth conversations about so many aspects of Louisiana culture,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the Louisiana Folklife Center and co-chair of the conference.
“We have invited many distinguished scholars and creative writers to join in a conversation about some of the ways Louisiana’s culture, history and people have been and are perceived, especially in light of the pervasive media portrayals of the state and its people. Making sense of fact versus fiction in our lived reality versus the varied depictions of Louisiana’s rich cultures, and the impact of these depictions upon the perceptions and possibly even of the culture and people of the state will be some of the issues that we will collectively explore.”
This year’s conference theme is Louisiana Realities. Throughout the two day conference, scholars and creative writers will make presentations on topics including the reality TV show “Swamp People,” the Great Molasses Flood of New Orleans, Louisiana literature, the contributions of black women as agents of progressive change, early studies of the Caddo Indians and contemporary Cajun and Creole music lyrics.
Other presentations will discuss documentaries about Hurricane Katrina, the Breaux Act, poverty in Louisiana, Isleño culture, the construction of handmade boats, coastal wetland erosion, Lafayette’s Greenville neighborhood, Mississippi River flooding, Cammie G. Henry’s support of the arts in Natchitoches, traditional Cajun treaters, Louisiana’s festival and tourism industries, cockfighting in Southern Louisiana, and a panel on indigenous language survival programs by the Chitimacha, Coushatta, Jena Choctaw and Tunica-Biloxi tribes.
Several creative writers will also address the theme of Louisiana realities, including poets John P. Doucet and David Middleton and fiction writers Rachel Green and Robert D. Bennett.
The Friday evening keynote session, “Louisiana History in Recent Literature,” will begin at 6 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. The session will feature presentations plus a roundtable discussion by a group of writers who drew inspiration from Louisiana history for their recently published books.
Led by NSU Professor of English and former Louisiana Poet Laureate Julie Kane, writers will include Darrell Bourque, former Louisiana Poet Laureate and a professor emeritus at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Clayton Delery, director of academic services at the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, Gina Ferrara, instructor at Delgado Community College, and Mona Lisa Saloy, a professor of English and folklore at Dillard University. A dessert and coffee social will follow in the Alumni Plaza.
The Saturday morning keynote begins at 10 a.m. in Magale Recital Hall and will be delivered by Dr. Barry Ancelet, professor and Granger & Debaillon Endowed Professor in Francophone Studies and head of the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Following the keynote address will be the presentation of the winning essays from the Annual NSU Louisiana High School Essay Contest. This year’s contest theme was “Fact vs. Fiction.” Students addressed the prompt “How does the Louisiana that you know compare to the depictions of Louisiana in the mass media?” The winning essays will be presented at this conference and will also be published in the Louisiana Folklife Journal.
This year’s contest winners are Angelle Nicole Williams from St. Amant High School in St. Amant, for her first place essay, “I Am Proud To Be Louisianian,” Jacquelyn Clark from St. Mary’s High School in Natchitoches, with her second place essay “Fact vs. Fiction: My Louisiana and the Media’s Louisiana,” and Alex Thomas of Cedar Creek High School in Ruston, for the third place essay “A Bowlful of Culture.”
Three students won honorable mention for their essays: Mazie DuBois of St. Mary’s High School in Natchitoches for “What is Louisiana Really Like?,” Regan Edwards of Glenbrook School in Minden for “More Than Bonnie and Clyde,” and Nathaniel Gardner St. Mary’s High School for “The Mass Media’s Erroneous Portrayal of Louisiana.”
A complete conference schedule can be found on the Louisiana Folklife Center’s website at louisianafolklife.nsula.edu. For more information call the Folklife Center at (318) 357-4332.
The conference is co-sponsored by the Northwestern State Department of Language and Communication, the Friends of the Hanchey Gallery, the Louisiana Folklife Center, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, the NSU College of Arts, Letters, and Graduate Studies and Research, the NSU Department of Fine + Graphic Arts, the NSU Writing Project, the NSU Office of the President and the NSU Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.