News Release

Southeastern celebrates Women's History Month in March with lectures, exhibits

Contact: Christina Chapple


     HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University will celebrate women’s history in March with a free lunch time lecture series on campus and art exhibits in Hammond coffee houses.

     The Women’s History Month series is partnering with the National Women’s History Project’s celebration, incorporating its theme “Women’s Art: Women’s Vision,” said Natasha Whitton of the Southeastern Department of English. The theme honors the originality, beauty, imagination, and multiple dimensions of women’s lives.

     To tie in with the national theme, Whitton said Southeastern’s Women’s History Month celebration will feature three guests artists – photographer Julia Sims of Ponchatoula, who has been acclaimed for her photographs of the Manchac Swamp; New Orleans artist Dorit Pittman, whose colorful still life paintings capture the fruits and vegetables of her adopted home and whose sculptures reflect her heritage as a child of Holocaust survivors; and mixed media artist Juliette Hare O’Connor, who specializes in vintage images of historic New Orleans, including works incorporating the photographs of Storyville prostitutes by E. J. Bellocq.

     The artists’ work will be featured throughout the month at the Green Bean Coffee Bar, 1000 N. Oak St., and PJs Coffee and Tea Co. locations on West Thomas Street and University Avenue.

     Each will also present a Women’s History Month lecture – Sims, "Manchac Swamp: Louisiana's Undiscovered Wilderness," March 3, noon; Pittman, “The Legacy of Holocaust Survivors: One Artist's Journey,” March 6, 12:30 p.m.; O’Connor, “Those Naughty Women of Storyville: Historic Red Light District of New Orleans,” March 11, 12:30 p.m. All lectures are on the third floor of Sims Memorial Library.

     The Women’s History Month is also partnering with the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival at Southeastern, which will feature as its special guest award-winning novelist Valerie Martin, author of “Mary Reilly,” “Property,” and “Italian Fever.”

     Martin will present readings from her works on March 31, 7 p.m., in the Student Union Theatre as the culmination of a day-long series of Tennessee Williams-related panels and readings, hosted on campus as part of the university’s sponsorship of the 22nd annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival in New Orleans March 26-30.

     The heart of the Women’s History Month celebration is a series of lunch time lectures and panels on topics ranging from education pioneer Maria Montessori to female assassins and suicide bombers to women composers in the French revolution.

     Unless otherwise indicated, Women’s History Month events are free and will be held on the third floor of Sims Memorial Library’s third floor.

     March 4, 12:30 p.m.  -- Elisabetta LeJeune, “Maria Montessori: The Woman Behind the Method.” LeJeune, a member of the Southeastern English faculty, said Montessori is a fitting topic for Women’s History Month “because of her legacy, her unconventional life for a woman of her times, and her impact on early education.” Last year was the centenary of the opening of the Casa dei Bambini (Children's Home) that applied her method to educate children.

     ▪ March 5, noon – Joan Faust, “Magdalen Herbert’s ‘Autumnal Face’: Art Meets Life.” English professor Faust will discuss John Donne's poem "The Autumnall," which he purportedly addressed to his good friend and patroness Magdalen Herbert, mother of 17th-century British metaphysical poet George Herbert.

     “The poem,” Faust explained, “celebrates the more moderate, ‘shadowy’ loveliness of a mature woman over the golden-haired youthful mistress of conventional Petrarchan poetry. My study explores Donne's poem in reference not only to changing taste in portrait miniatures to a more realistic, shadowy style but also to the actual life of Magdalen Herbert, which had its own dark corners.”

     March 12, noon, Writing Center (D Vickers Hall 383) – A reading by award-wining Southeastern poet and English faculty member Alison Pelegrin. Pelegrin will read from her new book of poetry, “Big Muddy River of Stars.”

     March 13, 12:30 p.m. -- Margaret Gonzalez-Perez, “Female Assassins and Suicide Bombers.” A Southeastern history professor, Gonzalez-Perez has extensively researched the roles that females have played in domestic and international terrorism, from the “Freedom Birds” of Sri Lanka to the “Water Buffaloes” in Central Asia. Her book on the subject, “Women Terrorists: Female Activity in Domestic and International Terrorism,” will be released in June by Routledge.

     March 18, 12:30 p.m. -- Natasha Whitton, “’Mary Reilly’: A Community Read Discussion.” In preparation for the March 31 visit to campus by author Valerie Martin, Whitton will lead a discussion on her novel, a retelling of the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde story, and show scenes from the 1996 movie starring Julia Roberts and John Malkovich.

     “This would be a great event for local book clubs to attend or for students who are reading the book in their Southeastern English classes,” Whitton said.

     March 19, noon -- Katherine Kolb, “Raising Their Voices: Women Composers of the French Revolution.” “Women composers are still an under-recognized breed and women opera composers thought virtually non-existent,” said Kolb, a Southeastern foreign languages professor. “But, during the 50 years leading up to, during, and just after the French Revolution, a strong tradition of women opera composition existed in France, as a result of the turbulent conditions of the time and the openings they afforded women.”

     March 20, 12:30 p.m. -- Irene Nero and Amy Morris, "Pioneers in Art: The Evolving Role of Female Patrons and Artists." Two members of Southeastern’s visual arts faculty will team up to discuss the importance of two 19th century artists, French Impressionist Berthe Morisot, and the American Mary Cassat, who created Impressionist works in France.

     “Morisot was a founding member of the French Impressionists,” said Nero. “Her work was highly innovative in an era where women were not expected to become professional artists.” Nero said Cassatt was also discouraged from becoming a professional artist, but moved to Paris and became friends with and exhibited with the Impressionists. 

     “The talk,” Nero said, “will reveal the powerful artists' journeys to artistic fame, while examining some of their significant art works.” 

     For additional information about Southeastern’s Women’s History Month, contact Whitton at 985-549-2413,, or Judith Fai-Podlipnik, 985-549-5388,

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