Southeastern Louisiana University Presents

Creoles in Fact and Fiction

Dr. Thomas Fick, Professor of English
Southeastern Louisiana University



What is a Creole? The answers to this question are almost as varied as the population of Louisiana. Indeed, perhaps no term has generated and continues to generate so much discussion as "Creole." When Edward Larocque Tinker introduced his novel Toucoutou (1928) by asserting that Creole "can mean only one thing and that is a pure white person born of European parents in Spanish or French colonies" he was firing another salvo in a cultural debate that began many years before and continues in the present. Today, most people would take exception to Tinker's definition, but the issue is far from resolved. The "Creole" still inhabits a uneasy space between fact and fiction that reflects debates over race, culture, and identity in the nation at large.

The goal of this Institute is to explore the rich gumbo of Louisiana culture through an examination of the debate over the meaning of Creole, and the portrayal of Creole culture in literature, history, music, and art. We will discuss some of the seminal works dealing with Creoles, from the first work by an African American--Victor Sejour's "Le Mulatre," published in 1837--to George Washington Cable's short stories from Old Creole Days and his novel The Grandissimes, to Lalita Tademy's Cane River and Anne Rice's The Feast of All Saints. Along the way we will look at literature and historical documents authored by both white and Afro-Creole writers as well as Creole music and art, and will explore contemporary efforts to revive and promote the Creole heritage. Participants will have the opportunity to share their own experiences and to pursue individual research interests.


  • Thomas Klingler, professor of linguistics at Tulane University and author of a book on the Creole language of Pointe Coupee Parish (LSU Press), will discuss the history and development of the Creole language, as well as issues having to do with its representation in literary and other texts.
  • Mary Pichon Battle--teacher, playwright, and founder of the Northshore organization Creoles Sans Limites--will discuss her original plays in Creole, her research into the Northshore and surrounding Creole communities, and her efforts to revive and preserve Creole traditions, language, and culture.


The Institute is open to all K-12 teachers in language arts, social studies, art, history, music, and related fields in public, private, and parochial schools of Louisiana. Twenty-five teachers will be admitted based on interests, letters of application, and ability to contribute to the Institute.

The Institute will be held at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond between 9 a.m. and noon on Wednesday and Thursday, June 2 and 3, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between June 7 and June 24, and Monday and Tuesday, June 28 and 29 (a total of 16 sessions). Sessions will be primarily discussion; each participant will prepare class presentations on selected works or topics and write a final paper. Participants will be invited to attend a pre-Institute orientation in May and a post-Institute evaluation session in October and field trips will be scheduled to the New Orleans Historic Collection, the French Quarter and Faubourg Treme, with a possible optional weekend trip to the Cane River Creole National Historical Park.

Each participant will receive a $500 stipend. An instructional packet will be provided at no cost and many readings will be available through on-line reserve from the SLU library. The cost of required purchase texts will be about $50.


All participants will receive a tuition scholarship for three hours of graduate credit in the English Department at SLU.

How to Apply

Fill in the application form on the brochure, or the on-line form at Be sure to include the names and phone numbers of two references who know you and your work. Write a one page letter of application. Try to give a sense of yourself and your interests and the ways you see the Institute contributing to your professional development and teaching goals.

If you do not apply on-line, just mail the completed application form and letter as soon as possible to: Professor Tom Fick Department of English, SLU-10861 Southeastern Louisiana University Hammond, LA 70402 The deadline for application is April, 16 2004. Applicants will be notified of their status by April 23, 2004.

Contact Dr. Tom Fick at 985-549-2104/2100 (work), 985-893-1157 (home), or (email).

Thomas H. Fick
Professor of English
Department of English
Southeastern Louisiana University
Hammond, LA 70433

This institute is funded by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and the generous support of the state of Louisiana.

Visit the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Home Page
Visit the Center for Regional Studies Home Page
You can read and/or print selected readings for the institute from the SLU electronic reserves in Sims Memorial Library.  If you are not already a student at SLU you will need to get a password to access the files.  Please e-mail me at and I will send you the passwords and instructions.
Visit the Online Reserves at Sims Memorial Library