Sunday, January 5, 2014

Authors appearing at Historic New Orleans Collection exhibit, symposium

             In commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, The Historic New Orleans Collection is currently showcasing two Civil War-themed exhibits: “Occupy New Orleans! Voices from the Civil War” and “Civil War Battlefields and National Parks: Photographs by A.J. Meek.” The latter exhibition was originally displayed at LSU in 1995 and published in 2001 by the University of Missouri Press as “Gettysburg to Vicksburg: Photographs of the First Five Civil War Battlefield Parks,” with Herman Hattaway providing the text. It is from this published series that the present exhibition is selected, drawn from Meek’s archive, given by the photographer to The Historic New Orleans Collection. The exhibition is on view in THNOC’s Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art, 400 Chartres St., through April 5.
A.J. Meek
            In conjunction with the two exhibits, THNOC will offer spotlight Louisiana’s role in the Civil War as part of its 19th annual Williams Research Center Symposium on Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. The full-day event titled “Home Front, Battlefront: Louisiana in the Civil War,” will feature presentations on the Civil War from the perspectives of eight different scholars, who will each explore Louisiana’s experience during the war, while relating wartime events to broader and timeless themes.
             Gaines Foster, LSU dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, will serve as the symposium moderator. Speakers include Jacqueline Glass Campbell, associate professor of history, Francis Marion University; Michael Fraering, curator, Port Hudson State Historic Site; Howard Jones, University Research Professor Emeritus of History, University of Alabama; Andrew Lang, postdoctoral teaching fellow, Rice University; Kelby Ouchley, biologist and author of “The Wild Side of the Civil War in Louisiana: Considering the Flora and Fauna”; Patricia Ricci, director of Louisiana’s Civil War Museum at Confederate Memorial Hall in New Orleans; and Jeff Rosenheim, curator in charge, department of photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
             Registration is required and rates range between $40 and $85. Registration fees include the full day of presentations plus special viewings of the companion exhibitions. For more information, including a complete schedule of talks and links to online registration, visit

Word Lab
            Acadiana Wordlab is an uncensored weekly writing workshop in Lafayette that’s free and open to the public (although organizers add that it’s good to have a few bucks on hand for the presenter’s trouble). There is no formal “membership,” and Wordlab is a drafting workshop, rather than a critique workshop. Each week, a guest presenter presents a work of art (literary or otherwise), a discussion of art, or a lecture on craft. Attendees then write for 20 minutes or so. After writing, attendees read what they’ve just been working on, aloud. For more information, contact organizers Clare L. Martin and Jonathan Penton at

New releases
            Margaret Media out of Donaldsonville has published a collection of short stories by Debra Faircloth of Dry Prong titled “The Fifth Guest and Other Louisiana Stories.” The book is available early this month in eBook form with a print edition to follow.
            Also from the publisher’s web site is a “partner book” titled “Finding Octave: The Untold Story of Two Creole Families and Slavery in Louisiana” by Nick Douglas. In researching his Louisiana roots, the Oakland, Calif., native found “an America where free people of color — unfettered blacks, Indians and Creoles — had power and wealth that whites struggled to claim as their own.” He concludes with his discovery of “the vigor, heart and tenacity of my ancestors and other people of color, the vitality and determination essential to what America still can be.” The trade paperback with photos and documents is $19.95. Partner books are not published by Margaret Media but promoted by the Louisiana publisher to complement its mission and other titles.  
            The Gonzales Committee on Cultural Affairs (GCCA) has created a coffee table book titled “Gonzales, Louisiana and its Surrounding Areas,” showcasing the town and its historical and cultural sites. The book contains contributions from several South Louisiana photographers. To obtain a copy, contact Karen Hatcher at (225) 253-1675.
            O’Neil De Noux of New Orleans has published his latest novel featuring private eye Dino LaStanza in “The Blue Nude.” For information, visit

Writing competition
            The annual Caffery Competition encourages UL-Lafayette students to conduct scholarly research using primary source materials from the Special Collections of Dupré Library with a $500 prize for the winning paper. Special Collections includes the University Archives and Acadiana Manuscripts Collection, the Cajun and Creole Music Collection, the Ernest J. Gaines Center, the Louisiana Room, the Rare Book Collection, Microforms, and U.S. Government Information.
Brochures explaining the competition are available at the Reserve Desk and in the Jefferson Caffery Reading Room. The submission application and competition rubric can be found at Entries for this year’s competition must be submitted as email attachments to by March 7, 2014. Provided there is a paper worthy of the award, the winner will be announced by April 11. For more information about the Caffery Competition, contact Dr. Bruce Turner, Assistant Dean of Special Collection Services, 482-5702.

Book events
                  Dr. William B. Robison, professor of history at Southeastern Louisiana University and author of several articles on early modern England, film history and popular culture, will present a series on the life and times of “Henry VIII and His Six Wives” from 6:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 22-Feb. 26, at South Regional Library. The program will feature costumes, film clips, audience participation and readings from “The Wives of Henry VIII” by Antonia Fraser. Register online or by phone at 981-1028.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana,” both from The History Press, and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at