Format of Louisiana Studies Conference may change


NATCHITOCHES – The Louisiana Folklife Center and Northwestern State University have high hopes that this year’s Louisiana Studies Conference will be able to be held in person on its scheduled dates of Sept. 18-19. The conference committee is closely monitoring the ongoing pandemic and is aware that uncertainties related to the continued impact of COVID-19 might potentially necessitate altering plans for the 2020 Conference.

In the event that a face-to-face conference is not a viable option, the conference will shift to a virtual delivery format via WebEx. In a WebEx format the conference would be held on Sept. 19 and Sept. 26 with individually consecutive presentation sessions rather than the usual concurrent sessions. Presenters will be given notice via email by Aug. 18 confirming whether the conference will be a face-to-face or virtual event.

The committee is now accepting presentation proposals for the upcoming conference. The 2020 theme, “Losing Louisiana,” is dedicated to exploring the ways in which Louisiana’s cultures, environment, languages and peoples are facing threats to their survival on a variety of fronts. What dangers do these threats pose to people, culture, and the environment? What solutions might be implemented to counter these threats? How can Louisiana pull back from the brink of disaster?   Presentation proposals on any aspect of this theme, as well as creative texts and performances by, about, and/or for Louisiana and Louisianans, are sought for this year’s conference.

“Although we are especially interested in proposals that deal with the theme of ‘Losing Louisiana,’ all papers, creative writing and short performances (dance, music, or theatric) that address any aspect of Louisiana studies are welcome,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, conference chair.

Proposals are being solicited for 15-minute presentations from scholars at all career stages as well as graduate students. Creative work (film, creative non-fiction, short fiction, and poetry) is welcome. Undergraduates are invited to submit, provided they are working with the guidance of a trained scholar. All undergraduate presenters under 18 years of age must be accompanied to the conference by a parent or legal guardian. Conference registration is free for all faculty, staff and students affiliated with Bossier Parish Community College, the Louisiana Scholars’ College, the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, and Northwestern State University, as well as State and National Park Service personnel situated in Natchitoches Parish.

 Abstracts (300 words max.) for scholarly proposals, creative writing, films and short performances (dance, music or theatric) should be sent as e-mail attachments to Rasmussen at Presentations should run no longer than 15 minutes. Applicants should briefly detail the audio / visual tools (laptop, projection screen, data projector, DVD player, etc.) or space (the stage in the Magale Recital Hall will be provided for short performances) each presentation will require, if any.

Applicants should also include a separate cover page with your name, affiliation, mailing and e-mail address and the title of your presentation. E-mails should be entitled Louisiana Studies Conference Submission. Each submission will receive an e-mail acknowledgement within one week of having received it. Those who do not receive an acknowledgment should resend their submission.

The deadline for submissions is July 1. Accepted presenters will be notified via e-mail by July 15, if not before.

The interdisciplinary conference will be accept proposals from the following disciplines: American studies, anthropology, architecture, archival studies, communications, craft, creative writing, criminal justice, cultural studies, cultural tourism, dance, design, education, English and literary studies, environmental studies, ethnic studies, fashion design, film studies, fine arts, folklore, gender studies, geography, heritage resources, history, interior design,  journalism, linguistics, media studies, museum studies, musicology, music performance, philosophy, photography, political science, preservation studies, psychology, queer studies, religious studies, Romance languages, social work, sociology, theatre and vernacular architecture.

Read broadly, scholars could consider the following possibilities for presentation topics relating to the theme “Losing Louisiana.” Louisiana, its cultures, history, literature, peoples, places, etc. should be an intrinsic aspect of the proposed presentation. For example, “thematic motifs in Southern literature” in itself would not be an appropriate presentation topic proposal for the Louisiana Studies Conference, while “thematic motifs in 21st century Louisiana short fiction” or “thematic motifs in the contemporary legends of Evangeline Parish” would both be highly appropriate.

The following list of suggestions is not meant to be comprehensive: archaeology, architecture (including vernacular architecture), archives, borders. the brain drain crisis, built environments, cemeteries and graveyards, climate change, coastal erosion, conservation, COVID-19, crafts, cultural drift, dancehalls, disruptions, documentation, economies (including cultural economies), ethnicities, foodways and folkways – past, present, evolving; frontiers (cultural, geographic, musical, mythic, narrative, etc.), historical landmarks and sites, language loss, legacies, literatures, Louisianan identities, main streets, monuments, murals, Native American spaces, the Neutral Strip, pandemics (preparedness, responses, effects, etc.), preservation, quarantines, raising consciousness, religion and spirituality, solutions, state and national parks, traditions and unsustainability.

A selection of scholarly and creative work presented at the conference will be solicited for publication in the “Louisiana Folklife Journal,” a peer reviewed academic journal produced by the Louisiana Folklife Center and edited by Rasmussen. Additional information is available on the website for the Louisiana Folklife Center at Northwestern State University:

Conference co-chairs are Dr. Lisa Abney, faculty facilitator for Academic Research and Community College Outreach and professor of English at NSU; Jason Church, materials conservator at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training;  Dr. Charles Pellegrin, professor of history and director of the Southern Studies Institute at NSU; Rasmussen, director of the Louisiana Folklife Center and professor of English at NSU, and Sharon Wolff, CA, assistant archivist at NSU’s Cammie G. Henry Research Center.

The conference is co-sponsored by the Louisiana Folklife Center, the Northwestern State University Department of Fine + Graphic Arts and the Northwestern State University College of Arts, Sciences, Graduate Studies and Research.