Centenary French professor presents at symposium in Paris
SHREVEPORT, LA — Dr. Dana Kress, professor of French and chair of the department of foreign languages at Centenary, recently spoke on Louisiana Creole literature at an international colloquium celebrating the tricentennial of the founding of New Orleans. The colloquium, held November 27 through 29 at the Académie des sciences d’outre-mer in Paris, brought together an impressive group of scholars to discuss the history, economics, literature, and culture of New Orleans and its enduring connections to France.
“The event was amazing because it collected scholars from all over the world and brought them to Paris,” says Kress. “It was a group of people who were really interested in knowledge and learning in general, and in this case it was exciting to see so many people focused on the history of New Orleans.”
The colloquium was organized by two French scholars, Dominique Barjot of the Sorbonne and Denis Vialou of the Museum of Natural History. Speakers and participants came from universities, museums, and archives across France as well as Canada, Ireland, and the United States. Kress represented Centenary and Louisiana alongside scholars from Tulane University, the Historic New Orleans Collection, and the LSU School of Law.
The colloquium opened with a ceremonial event at Paris’s city hall, the Hotel de Ville, attended by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, and Vincent Sciama, the new consul general of France in Louisiana. A closing reception was held on November 29 at the United States Embassy in Paris.
Kress presented a talk entitled “Neither French nor American: Three Hundred Years of littérature louisianaise.” His presentation gave him the opportunity to highlight efforts to collect and preserve Louisiana French literature through Les Éditions Tintamarre, Centenary’s heritage language press. Kress also shared insights and examples from “Paris Noir,” the course he teaches during the annual Centenary in Paris program for first-year students.
“Paris Noir” examines the achievements of a few of the countless African-Americans, many of them writers and artists, who sought refuge in Paris during a time when their own country denied them both basic human dignity and opportunity. Kress elicited an emotional response from the audience during his presentation when he explored these themes through a moving excerpt from a poem entitled, “Resentment of a Man Without a Country,” by the 19th century poet Pierre Aristide Desdunes, a Louisiana native.
Kress also used the colloquium to introduce the newest Tintamarre project, the Anthologie vivante de la Louisiane française, or Living Anthology of French Louisiana – a digital, online collection of books, poems, songs, videos, and other French and Francophone material that can continue to grow and evolve over many years. Dozens of Centenary students over several years were involved in bringing the anthology project to fruition.
More information about Les Éditions Tintamarre is available at french.centenary.edu/editions.