News Release

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival coming to campus March 25 and 30

Contact: Christina Chapple


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Richard Ford

     HAMMOND – The renowned Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, scheduled March 25-29 in the Crescent City, is going on the road 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 led by renowned scholars for Southeastern students and the general public on March 25 and additional presentations for students and a public reading by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford on March 30.

     “Southeastern has a strong focus on student engagement and goes to great lengths to provide an intellectually stimulating environment,” said Bryan DePoy, interim dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. “The Tennessee Williams Literary Festival at Southeastern is a wonderful example of this commitment. We are very pleased and excited to bring some of this famous New Orleans-based festival directly to the university community.”

     David Hanson, head of the Southeastern English Department, said that, as a preliminary to the festival, hundreds of Southeastern English students have been reading Ford’s novel “Wildlife” and stories from his collection “Rock Springs.” For the scholars’ panels, students have read Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and plays by Tennessee Williams. The scholars include specialists in American drama and in film adaptation of drama.

     “Southeastern faculty and students have a long history of participating in the New Orleans festival’s readings, panels, master classes and other events,” Hanson said. “Last year, we brought a portion of the festival to Southeastern, and students were enthralled to read novels by famed writer Valerie Martin in their classes, and then meet with her and hear her read on campus. This year, we are thrilled to repeat this successful venture by hosting such a distinguished writer as Mr. Ford, along with such interesting scholars.”

     While classes will participate in a variety of panels on both days, two events are open to the public.

     Ford will comment on and read from his work in the Student Union Theatre at 6 p.m. on March 30. A book signing and reception will follow his hour-long presentation.

     On March 25, a trio of guest scholars from the Tennessee Williams Festival will present “Tennessee Williams and the Hollywood Production Code.” The presentation is scheduled for 9 a.m. in the Student Union Theatre and will feature R. Barton Palmer, Robert Bray, and Annette J. Saddik.

     The presenters will bring to light the details of the arduous screenwriting process Williams experienced, with special emphasis on the Production Code Administration -- the powerful censorship office that drew high-profile criticism during the 1950s -- and Williams’s innovative efforts to bend the code.

     Ford is the author of six novels and three collections of stories and is best known for his trilogy of novels: “The Sportswriter,” “Independence Day,” and “The Lay of the Land.” He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for “Independence Day,” making him the first writer to win both awards for a single work. His short story collection, “Rock Springs,” contains several widely anthologized stories.

     Among his many awards and honors, Ford has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, and the 1994 Rea Award, which is given annually to a writer who has made a contribution to the short story as an art form.

     Palmer is Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature at Clemson University. He is the co-author with Bray of the new book, “Hollywood’s Tennessee: The Williams Films and Postwar America.” His writing on American films also includes “Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird: The Relationship Between Text and Film.”

     Bray, a Middle Tennessee State English professor, is founding editor of the “Tennessee Williams Annual Review” and founding director of the New Orleans Tennessee Williams Scholars Conference. He has written extensively on Williams, including “Tennessee Williams and His Contemporaries.”

     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.”

     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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