News Release

Teachers sought to participate in summer institute on African American women in literature

Contact: Rene Abadie


     HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University will offer an institute for teachers for advanced studies on African American women in literature June 9-July 3.

     Entitled “Searching for Our Mothers’ Gardens: African American Women in Literature,” the institute is sponsored by the Southeastern Department of English with support from a Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Grant. Applications are currently being accepted for area teachers, librarians, administrators and other educations from grades 6-12 in public, private and parochial schools in the state.

     Up to 20 teachers will be able to participate in the program where they will earn three hours of credit in English 621from Southeastern and 45 continuous learning units, said Ruth Caillouet, assistant professor of English and coordinator of the institute. Full tuition waivers are offered to participants who will also receive a $750 stipend upon completion of the course.  Participants will be required to pay university fees.

     Application deadline is April 15. Forms and additional information on the process can be obtained by contacting Caillouet at 985-549-2100 or

     The institute will meet from 9 a.m. – noon on Mondays through Thursdays. A pre-institute reception is planned for May 24.

     “We are seeking to prepare educators with the background and tools that are necessary to serve the diverse needs of today’s young adults,” said Caillouet, who serves as the English Education Program coordinator at Southeastern. “It should provide teachers with a chance to enliven their classrooms with new approaches to literature and writing that will capture the minds and hearts of today’s young adults. The participants will have the opportunity to work together and develop units of study ready to use in the middle and high school classroom.”

     In addition to Caillouet, other institute scholars include Nghana Lewis, assistant professor of English and African Diaspora Studies at Tulane University; Barbara Holland, master teacher and curriculum specialist; John Lowe, professor of English at LSU and nationally recognized scholar in African American studies; and other lecturers from Southeastern’s interdisciplinary project on Civil Rights involving the Department of English, Department of History and Political Science and the College of Education and Human Development.

     The title of the institute is taken from an essay written by Alice Walker, considered one of the most admired African American writers and author of “The Color Purple.”

     “Her essay, ‘In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens,’ presents African American women as the ancestors of creative spirit and courage who inspire strength and energy in the art of writing,” Caillouet said. “We hope to explore the portrayal of these women in literature written by men and women and ranging from slave narratives to modern fiction and from classic works to young adult novels. The class discussions are intended to raise important themes and issues for relating these works to other literature and the world around us.”

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