Becoming Louisiana: 11th Louisiana Studies Conference Looks at State’s Unique Cultures

By Kevin Shannahan

The Annual Louisiana Studies Conference, now in its 11th year, took place September 20-21 at Northwestern State University. The theme of this year’s event was “Becoming Louisiana”. Our state is a truly unique place whose many different cultures have been shaped by history, geography, the peoples who have made their home here and a host of other factors. Scholars from 7 different states were joined by NSU faculty who gave presentations centered around the conference theme.

One of the more noteworthy events in the conference was the announcing of the winners of the annual high school essay contest. Students from all over the state submitted essays addressing one or both of the following questions: “How has growing up in Louisiana shaped you into the person that you are today?” and “What makes you Louisianan?”

This year’s contest winners were Hana Le of Ruston High School for her first-place essay “That Gray Area: A Self Reflection on Culture and External Factors,” Emily Savell of Grant High School in Dry Prong for her second place essay “Bayou des Glaises” and Timmie Harris of C.E. Byrd High School in Shreveport for his third place essay “The Dirty South.” Two students received Honorable Mention: Sydney Hedrick of Grant High School for her essay “A Boot-Shaped Mark” and Summer Netterville of C.E. Byrd High School for her essay “What Makes My State So Great.”

Along with the NSU Folklife Center, the conference was co-sponsored by the Department of English, Foreign Languages, and Cultural Studies, The Friends of the Hanchey Gallery, the Louisiana Folklife Center, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, the NSU Center for Inclusion and Diversity, the NSU College of Arts and Sciences, the NSU Department of Fine + Graphic Arts, the NSU Office of Recruiting, the NSU Writing Project and the NSU Office of the President.