Welcome to the Loyola University Newsroom

Print this page

Center for the Study of New Orleans hosts first event

Loyola press release - September 8, 2009

The Center for the Study of New Orleans hosted its first official event on Thursday, Sept. 3, “An Evening of Jazz and History,” to a standing-room-only crowd. The event, which featured acclaimed author Jason Berry and musicians Dr. Michael White and John Boutté, was attended by more than 500 people.

During “An Evening of Jazz and History,” Berry told poignant, sometimes funny, sometimes serious, anecdotes gathered from years researching the culture of New Orleans jazz for his book “Up from the Cradle of Jazz.” In between stories, White, a Xavier University professor and clarinetist, led Boutté and the band in songs representing the styles of music Berry described. The band played interpretations of storied favorites such as “St. James Infirmary,” “Iko Iko” and “Tipitina,” and also showcased original music by White and Boutté.

The Center for the Study of New Orleans is housed within Loyola’s College of Social Sciences and is headed by School of Mass Communication professor Leslie Parr, Ph.D. It is a cross-disciplinary resource hub that promotes research and reflection on the history, politics, culture and environment of New Orleans.

“Our first event was inspiring and exciting,” Parr said. “It was gratifying to see so many people getting into the spirit of New Orleans music and history. Jason Berry, Michael White and John Boutté offered the perfect blend of entertainment and education. It was a wonderful way to launch the Center for the Study of New Orleans.”

The center will host three more public events during the 2009-10 academic year. The programs explore New Orleans’ unique culture by drawing on the expertise of nationally known New Orleans scholars.

The center also plans to offer a Loyola minor in the study of New Orleans whereby students complete courses across the Loyola curriculum that support the CSNO’s mission.

“We think the concept of this center with its focus on a single city is unique. New Orleans is one of the few cities in the world that can sustain such intense study,” said Parr.

The plan, too, is for Loyola to be able to do something meaningful for New Orleans, Parr continued. “This center will not only serve the needs of our students, it will be of great value to the community. It’s important to us to highlight the importance of New Orleans as the city continues its recovery.”

The idea for the center was born as Loyola professors talked informally about the rich array of possibilities New Orleans offers for scholarly investigation. “I don’t know if we got the idea for the minor or for the programming first, but it all just jelled,” Parr said. “This center came together with the help of so many people. We have an impressive steering committee that represents disciplines throughout the university. They have put in many hours of planning for these events.”

All 2009-10 events will take place in Nunemaker Auditorium on Loyola’s main campus and are free and open to the public. Events scheduled include:

  • Oct. 21, 7 p.m. What is New Orleans?, a discussion on the people, culture and geography of New Orleans, featuring Susan Saulny, New Orleans native and writer for The New York Times, Larry Powell, professor of history at Tulane University, and Richard Campanella, geographer and author of “Bienville’s Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans.” Loyola professor John Biguenet will moderate the panel.
  • Jan. 20, 7 p.m. New Orleans in the '60s: A Time of Change, a panel discussion on the turbulent era of segregation, integration and emerging identity groups, featuring Alecia Long, a history professor at Louisiana State University and author of “The Great Southern Babylon: Sex, Race, and Respectability in New Orleans, 1865-1920;” Rafael Cassimere, University of New Orleans history professor, emeritus; and Kent Germany, who teaches history at University of South Carolina. Loyola sociology professor Anthony Ladd will moderate.
  • March 23, 7:30 p.m. Taken Against Their Will: Kidnappers, Detectives and Slaves. Historians Mike Ross, University of Maryland, and Adam Rothman, Georgetown University, will weave a tale of intrigue as they discuss two infamous 19th century Louisiana kidnapping cases. Loyola history professor Mark Fernandez will moderate.

For more information on the CSNO, visit www.loyno.edu/studyneworleans, or contact Laura Beatty in the School of Mass Communication at 504-865-3431 or by e-mail at labeatty@loyno.edu.

For more information on the College of Social Sciences, contact Catherine Koppel in the Office of Public Relations at 504-861-5448 or by e-mail at ckoppel@loyno.edu.