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First year of programming for CSNO ends with presentation by historians

Loyola press release - March 15, 2010

The Center for the Study of New Orleans wrapped up its first year of programming with the event, “Taken Against Their Will: Kidnappers, Detectives and Slaves,” Wednesday night at Loyola University New Orleans.

Historians Mike Ross and Adam Rothman each presented a paper about two kidnapping cases in 19th century New Orleans. Ross, from the University of Maryland, told of the kidnapping of the baby Molly Digby from in front of her home and the national media coverage the case generated.

“I was researching for something else and I stumbled across this story and I was just fascinated,” Ross said. “I knew I wanted to come back to it.” Ross is writing a book on the abduction.

Rothman, from Georgetown University, spoke about a New Orleans woman who accused her former owners of kidnapping her three children and taking them to Cuba near the end of the Civil War. The former slave was able to take her case to court and have her former owner arrested and tried.

“The concept of a former slave being able to get a Confederate woman on trial for stealing her children … wrap your head around that,” Rothman said.

The event was last in a series of events put on by Loyola’s new Center for the Study of New Orleans. Other events included a program about what defines New Orleans, about New Orleans in the 60s, a discussion about and a performance and discussion on New Orleans musical history that launched acclaimed author Jason Berry’s new edition of his book on music here after World War II. Another event featured Loyola University photographer Harold Baquet’s ongoing documentation of life in this city.

“We are so happy to have attracted such large audiences for all our events,” Leslie Parr, Ph.D, center director, said. “It shows the center has tapped into a real desire for this kind of programming in New Orleans.”

The center is also behind a new interdisciplinary minor at Loyola. Students can start taking classes in fall in New Orleans studies. A broad range of courses will be offered such as “History of New Orleans,” "Mississippi River Delta Ecology," "Social Justice in New Orleans" and "Race, Class and Schools in New Orleans."

The minor is the brainchild of a group of professors who talked informally about the rich array of possibilities New Orleans offers for scholarly investigation. From their discussions, Loyola created and launched the center last year in the College of Social Sciences. The center serves as a cross-disciplinary resource hub that promotes research and reflection on the history, politics, culture and environment of New Orleans, and the minor will further its mission.

Loyola Provost Edward Kvet, D.M.E, said the minor underscores Loyola’s commitment to New Orleans and its ongoing pursuit of the Jesuit ideals of education.

“The New Orleans studies minor draws on the deep expertise of our faculty in the academic study of New Orleans–its history, music, art, literature, ecology, politics and social structures. It offers students a unique chance for interdisciplinary study through the prism of place and for experiential learning in a city that’s like no other,” Kvet said.

Parr agrees. “We are very excited about the enthusiastic response we’ve received about the minor from students and faculty,” she said. “It will make a significant contribution to the curriculum by providing students with a critical understanding of the complex and endlessly fascinating city in which they live.”

The center will offer another series of programs in fall, beginning with an event in early September about the New Orleans Saints and their relationship with the city.

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LoyNews is an e-newswire produced by the Loyola University New Orleans Office of Public Affairs. LoyNews is distributed weekly to local, regional and national news media outlets, communicating the latest news and accomplishments of the university and its community.