OVERVIEW: Louisiana Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Activities

Presented by:
Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
Current Initiative: Centennial Campfires National Partner: The Pulitzer Prizes Local Partner: Nonprofits, Other Subject: History, Journalism, Performing Arts, Poetry, Varies Audience: All

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities celebrated the Pulitzer Prize centennial by conducting programming centered around four Louisiana-inspired Pulitzer winners, which were  Wynton Marsalis (Music, 1991), John Kennedy Toole (Fiction, 1981), Tennessee Williams (Drama, 1955 and 1948), and Robert Penn Warren (Poetry, 1958 and 1979 and Fiction, 1947). The council produced four feature length articles in the council’s award-winning quarterly magazine, three public panel discussions at popular festivals, a digital platform recreating an iconic fictional character’s world, and an event for an experiential walking tour led by a humanities scholar.

LOUISIANA CULTURAL VISTAS ARTICLES

LEH published four articles about Lousiana’s Pulitzer winners in the 2016 issues of their quarterly magazine. This magazine reaches an estimated 35,000 readers each issue.

March Issue: “The Room Must Evoke Some Ghosts” Lisa D’Amour- An essay about Tennessee Williams and his treatment of female characters.

June Issue: “Homegrown Privileges Vanish in Exile: The History and Systems of Slavery Behind Wynton Marsalis’ Blood on the Fields” Dr. Ibrahima Seck- An exploration of the African slave trade reflected in Wynton Marsalis’ piece,  Blood on the Fields.

September Issue: “Segregation” Nathaniel Rich- This essay revisits Robert Penn Warren’s Segregation.

December Issue: “Ignatius in the New New Orleans” Maurice Carlos Ruffin- A contrasting look at the New Orleans portrayed in A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole, and the modern time Big Easy.

An Ignatian Journey: A Confederacy of Dunces Walking Tour

Based on the work by John Kennedy Toole, LEH created a mobile map of 35 sites related to the novel and Toole’s life in New Orleans, and an audio tour of those sites, narrated by Christopher Champagne, a New Orleans-based actor and poet and the author of “The Yat Dictionary”. The audio tour delivers the sounds of Toole’s youth to users, while the archival photographs and scholarly descriptions of each site on the mobile map give students, scholars, and visitors to New Orleans a new resource for understanding both novel and novelist. More than 1,000 users viewed the map during its first week online.

PANELS AND PUBLIC PROGRAMS

“Celebrating 100 Years of the Pulitzer: Tennessee Williams and Contemporary Theater” (April 1)

At the 30th Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival in the Hotel Monteleone, LEH parterned with the festival to put on a panel based on the works of Tennessee Williams. Williams received two Pulitzers: for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948, and in 1955 for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Reporter John Pope, a member of The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com team that received a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s Hurricane Katrina coverage, served as moderator. Louisiana Cultural Vistas contributor and Pulitzer nominee Lisa D’Amour and playwright Beth Henley, winner of a 1981 Pulitzer for Drama for her play, Crimes of the Heart, discussed the impact of the Pulitzer recognition on their careers, as well as the influence of Williams on contemporary theater. Thomas Keith, editor of over a dozen titles by Williams for New Directions Publishers and the scholarly editor of publications of two Williams plays, discussed Williams’ award-winning plays and Williams’ reaction to winning the Pulitzers. An audience of 152 attended and took part in a Q&A with the panelists.

2016 Satchmo Summerfest Pulitzer Panel (August 7)

LEH partnered with the music festival to put on a panel that explored the influence of Louis Armstrong on Wynton Marsalis, both musically and in their respective roles as ambassadors of jazz and New Orleans. The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com reporter James Karst moderated a discussion with saxophonist, educator and longtime Marsalis collaborator Victor Goines, who joined music historian Dr. Bruce Raeburn, and award-winning jazz journalist Dan Morgenstern. The panelists discussed Marsalis’s emphasis on classical music education, his work to elevate the presence of jazz in American life, and his dedication to preserving the traditional roots of the music. An audience of 150 people listened to the panelists.

2016 Louisiana Book Festival (October 29)

The LEH and The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com developed a panel featuring political reporters discussing the influence of Robert Penn Warren’s All The King’s Men (Pulitzer for fiction, 1947) on political writing and the place of Louisiana in the national imagination. Gary Richards, scholar of southern literature and professor at University of Mary Washington, moderated the conversation between: Tim Morris, project editor for several of the newspaper’s award-winning efforts, including “Oceans of Trouble,” an eight-part series that won The Times-Picayune its first Pulitzer Prize in 1997; Julia O’Donoghue,  a journalist covering the Louisiana governor and state legislature for three years for The Times-Picayune; and Dr. Alecia P. Long, a professor of history at Louisiana State University and author of The Great Southern Babylon: Sex, Race, and Respectability in New Orleans, 1865-1920. The panelists discussed the intoxication of power for both politicians and reporters, the relevance of the novel to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the enduring image of Louisiana as a corrupt state. The conversation was held in a chamber of the State Capitol building for an audience of 35.

An Ignatian Journey (December 8)

LEH and the LSU press debuted the digital walking tour app, An Ignatian Journey: A Confederacy of Dunces Walking Tourat Bevolo Gas & Electric Lights in the French Quarter. An audience of 100 attended the reception, where copies of Louisiana Cultural Vistas were distributed and Dillard University English Professor Dr. Nancy Dixon led a walking tour using the mobile map. The event was originally scheduled to be held at the LEH’s headquarters, but was relocated to be closer to the locations on the map.

PARTNERSHIPS:

  • Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival
  • Satchmo Summerfest Pulitzer Panel
  • Louisiana Book Festival
  • LSU Press

EVENT LOCATIONS:

  • New Orleans, LA
  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • Online

PULITZER PRIZE PARTICIPANTS:

  • John Pope (Breaking News – The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com, 2006)
  • Beth Henley (Drama, 1981)
  • Tim Morris (Editorial Writing, 1997)