March 7, 2003

Good Morning:

I want to invite all of you to a special event that will examine the ways in which the South continues to influence and define American culture. The event, Southern Roots, American Culture: A Conversation about Region and Identity, is the fourth installment of the Tulane University Presidential Symposium, an ongoing series in which the Tulane and New Orleans community discuss important research, ideas and issues. The symposium will take place March 13 at 4 p.m. in the Freeman Auditorium of the Woldenberg Art Center. The event is free and open to all.

The symposium's panel will include:

William Christenberry, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and one of the most influential Southern artists working today. His photography, painting and sculpture has been exhibited in museums throughout the world. He currently teaches at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and is an artist-in-residence at Dartmouth College.

William Ferris, a native of Vicksburg, Miss., and an expert on blues music. His 1983 documentary "Mississippi Blues" was featured at the Cannes Film Festival. A recipient of the Charles Frankel Prize, the highest U.S. award in the humanities, Ferris is currently the Joel R. Williamson Distinguished Professor of History and senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Nick Spitzer is a professor of folklore and cultural conservation at the University of New Orleans and the producer and host of American Routes, a weekly two-hour Public Radio International program devoted to American music and culture from a Gulf South perspective. Spitzer also served as the first Louisiana State Folklorist, and as a senior folklife specialist at the Smithsonian Institution.

Noel Polk is a professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi and is considered to be the world's leading authority on William Faulkner and Eudora Welty. He edited "Mississippi's Piney Woods: A Human Perspective" and most recently has written "Outside the Southern Myth," a personal narrative of growing up in Picayune, Miss.

Natasha Tretheway is an award-winning poet who grew up on Mississippi's Gulf Coast and is now an associate professor of creative writing at Emory University. She is known for her brilliant historical poetry, which, while recreating lives from the past, initiates conversations about current culture. Her book "Domestic Work" won the Cave Canem Prize, the Pushcart Prize and the Lillian Smith Book Award.

You can read more about this Presidential Symposium and those we have held previously at

As you can see this is quite an impressive panel. No doubt the discussion will be lively and engaging. I hope to see you (y'all) there.

Have a great weekend,


Office of the President Emeritus, 1555 Poydras St, Suite 700, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-274-3638