News Release

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival coming to Southeastern March 31

Contact: Christina Chapple


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(1) Valerie Martin (2) Tennessee Williams

(1) Valerie Martin; (2)Tennessee Williams

HAMMOND – The renowned Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, scheduled March 26-30 in the Crescent City, will go on the road March 31 to Southeastern Louisiana University, one of the festival’s corporate sponsors.

     The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival at Southeastern will feature a series of panel discussions for Southeastern students and the general public and an appearance by one of the main festival’s guest artists, Valerie Martin, author of novels such as “Italian Fever,” and “Mary Reilly.”

     “Southeastern faculty and students have a long history of participating in the New Orleans festival’s readings, panels, master classes and other events,” said David Hanson, head of the Southeastern English Department. “Now, hundreds more will benefit from our hosting some of the festival’s major writers and scholars at Southeastern.”

     As a preliminary to the festival, many of Southeastern’s English classes have been reading Martin’s novels and short stories as well as Williams’s plays, Hanson said. Some local book clubs have also elected to read Martin novels.

     “Because of the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival at Southeastern, our students will have the rare opportunity to talk with the author of one of their required readings and with scholars about Williams’s plays,” said Tammy Bourg, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. “We are very happy that the festival has such a strong educational component, an explicit tie to what students are learning in the classroom.”

     Hanson said the public is invited to a morning panel discussion on Williams’s life and works and to an evening reading by Martin.

     The panel discussion, “Tennessee 101,” is scheduled for the Student Union Theatre at 10 a.m. Martin’s reading, followed by a reception and book signing, will take place at 7 p.m., also in the theater.

     Reared in New Orleans, Martin is the author of eight novels, three collections of short fiction, and “Salvation,” a biography of St. Francis of Assisi. She has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Kafka Prize for “Mary Reilly,” a retelling of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story that was made into a 1986 film starring Julia Roberts and John Malkovich. She also received Britain’s Orange Prize for her novel “Property” and published her latest book, “Trespass,” last September.

     Martin has taught in writing programs at institutions such as Mt. Holyoke College, the University of Massachusetts, and Sarah Lawrence College.

     The Southeastern Writing Center, located in D Vickers Hall, room 383, will host three sessions for Southeastern English majors and creative writers, “A Conversation with Valerie Martin” for English majors and creative writers at 11 a.m., a scholarly panel on Williams for English majors at noon, and “An Insiders Guide to Publishing” at 2 p.m.

     The panels will feature three guest scholars from the Tennessee Williams Festival.

     Middle Tennessee State English professor Robert Bray is founding editor of the “Tennessee Williams Annual Review” and founding director of the New Orleans Tennessee Williams Scholars Conference, now in its 13th year. His extensive writing on Williams includes two books, “Tennessee Williams and His Contemporaries” and the upcoming “Hollywood’s Tennessee: The Williams Films and Postwar American Cinema.”

     A specialist on 20th century drama and performance in general and Williams in particular, Annette J. Saddik is a faculty member in English and theater at New York City College of Technology. She edited a collection of Williams’ previously unpublished later plays, and is the author of “Contemporary American Drama,” which explores the performance of American identity on the stage since WW II, and “The Politics of Reputation: The Critical Reception of Tennessee Williams’ Later Plays.”

     Thomas Keith is editor at New Directions Publishing in New York, as well as the production manager and art director. He has been involved in the preparation of 17 Tennessee Williams titles from New Directions. He has also edited the poetry of Jimmy Santiago Baca, Tennessee Williams, and Dylan Thomas.

     The university has also been screening films based on Tennessee Williams’ plays during February and March. The final installment of the film series, “Suddenly Last Summer,” will be shown March 19 at 5 p.m. in McClimans Hall, room 116.

     For additional information on the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival at Southeastern, contact the Southeastern English Department, 985-549-2100.

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