News release
Public Information Office  SLU 10880   Hammond, LA 70402   phone: 985-549-2341   fax: 985-549-2061 Spring 2004 news releases Public Information home News archive

Contact: Christina Chapple
Date: 3/24/04
      HAMMOND -- What is a Creole? A special Southeastern Louisiana University summer institute for teachers will examine the meaning of the often-debated term and the portrayal of Creole culture in literature, history, music, and art.
      “Creoles in Fact and Fiction,” directed by Southeastern English professor Tom Fick and funded by a Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities grant, is open to Louisiana kindergarten through high school public, private and parochial school teachers in language arts, social studies, art, history, music and related fields. The deadline for application is April 16.  Twenty-five teachers will be selected to attend the institute, which will include 16 sessions between June 2- 29. 
      Selected teachers will receive a $500 stipend and a tuition scholarship for three hours of graduate credit. Applications can be submitted online at or can be printed and mailed to Fick at SLU 10861, Hammond, LA 70402. In addition to the application form, applicants must submit two references and a one-page letter describing ways the institute may contribute to their professional development and teaching goals. 
      Fick, who previously has directed three Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities seminars for secondary school teachers, said the definition of “Creole” “is almost as varied as the population of Louisiana.
      “When Edward Larocque Tinker introduced his 1928 novel ‘Toucoutou’ 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,” Fick said. “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.”
      To examine the debate, Fick said the institute 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 and novel “The Grandissimes,” to Lalita Tademy's “Cane River” and Anne Rice's “The Feast of All Saints.”
      Participants will also look at literature and historical documents by both white and Afro-Creole writers as well as Creole music and art. They will explore contemporary efforts to revive and promote the Creole heritage, and will have the opportunity to share their own experiences and pursue individual research interests. 
      The institute also will feature two visiting scholars. Thomas Klingler, professor of linguistics at Tulane University and author of a book on the Creole language of Pointe Coupee Parish, will discuss the history and development of the Creole language, as well as issues dealing with its representation in literary and other texts. 
      Mary Pichon Battle, a teacher, playwright, and founder of the north shore organization “Creoles Sans Limites,” will discuss her original plays in Creole, her research into the north shore and surrounding Creole communities, and her efforts to revive and preserve Creole traditions, language, and culture. 
      Those chosen for the institute will also be invited to attend an orientation in May and a post-institute evaluation in October, Fick said. Field trips will be scheduled to the Historic New Orleans Collection, the French Quarter and the city’s Faubourg Treme, with a possible optional weekend trip to the Cane River Creole National Historical Park.
      For additional information about the institute, contact Fick at 985-549-2104/2100 or