For the third year I was invited to, and did, speak at the Louisiana Studies Conference at my undergraduate alma mater Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La.
Before I discuss it I wanted to give a big thanks to all of the people involved in putting on the conference. Dr. Shane Rasmussen, the Director of the Louisiana Folklife Center, has made great efforts in developing the Folklife Center and is responsible not only for this conference but also the Folklife Festival held each summer. Although he will be the first to admit that he couldn't do it without the assistance of many others including Shelia Thompson from the Folklife Center. Dr. Lisa Abney, the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs as well as a Professor of English at NSU is also a co-chair of the seminar and a frequent speaker and/or moderator at the conference. There are many, many more people involved than I have mentioned but I wanted to be sure and name these three.
I've been to a number of legal continuing education seminars and writers conferences and have never seen one where things go as smoothly as the Louisiana Studies Conference.
The conference seems to be growing in size as well but I would really like to see more of the public turn out for this. The topics are always interesting, you can see this year's program brochure and topics at this link, and since it is free to the general public it is an opportunity that is being missed by many.
If any of my readers are interested in the conference or any other information please feel free to email me and I will be glad to discuss it with them and I'll even send them a reminder next year when the info for the conference is released. In addition to the conference being great it is held on the Northwestern State University campus so those people attending can also take the opportunity to visit Natchitoches, the oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase (300 years old this year) and a city founded by an ancestor of mine, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis.
Dr. Rasmussen announced that the theme for next year's conference is "Louisiana: A Cultural Crossroads", paying homage to the El Camino Real as well as the Mississippi and Red Rivers which provided water passages from the northern areas to the Gulf of Mexico.
As soon as he announced the theme an idea for my talk next year, as well as a paper for the Louisiana Folklife Journal, popped into my head. So next year the tentative title for my presentation will be "Voodoo, Hoodoo and the Blues", which should be very interesting to research and write and, since I'll have a lot of blues music as a part of the presentation, should be fun for the people who attend.