Dr. Michael White, Professor of Spanish and African American Music, is widely acknowledged as an expert in the field of traditional New Orleans jazz. White performs and tours worldwide with his own Original Liberty Jazz Band, writes and lectures on the unique music, and is among a select few clarinetists to develop an original, authentic interpretation of New Orleans jazz.
Ron Bechet, Professor, Department of Fine Arts. Visual Arts is a unique language designed to communicate the abstract in non-linear terms and to understand thoughts and relationships that are not literally apparent. Ron Bechet’s research involves how to use this language not necessarily to make art but to understand how it is made. In his research, Bechet studies how visual language is a form of communication, using visual means in symbolic or metaphoric ways. One focus uses an example of dove-as-a-bird and cultural significance of dove as a symbol of peace or religious symbol of the Holy Spirit. By combining imagery, Bechet explores philosophical concepts and symbolic meaning.
Dr. Ross Louis, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Communications, Communications Studies. As a performance studies scholar living and working in post-Katrina New Orleans, Dr. Ross Louis studies the meanings, practices, and functions of cultural citizenship in the city. The ways residents understand and demonstrate citizenship have drastically changed since August 2005. Dr. Louis explores how the citizens’ identification as New Orleanians is reflected in their public performances, including Mardi Gras, civic participation in neighborhood associations, increased displays of pro-New Orleans recovery slogans, and the rise of a tight-knit blogging community that tracks cultural and political issues. In each of these cases, performance could provide a vehicle for defining, learning, and transforming citizenship.
Kathryn Krotzer Laborde, Associate Professor of English, examines areas that are uniquely New Orleans, capturing what is special about the city, Xavier, and the diverse people here. Much of her recent work has focused on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Laborde worked as an ‘exterior damage assessor’ for the city, documenting New Orleanians’ response to the disaster, writing down their stories, collecting oral histories, taking hundreds of photographs. Some of the most compelling responses were in the messages scrawled, painted and etched on the thousands of ruined refrigerators across the city. In “Do Not Open: The Discarded Refrigerators of Post-Katrina New Orleans” (2010 McFarland & Co.), she writes about how these appliances became message boards for the deeply wounded, angry, resilient people of New Orleans.
Dr. Elizabeth Manley, Assistant Professor of History, and two undergraduate students spent a two-week research trip in the Dominican Republic in the summer 2010. Dr. Manley is standing at the memorial to the Mirabal Sisters on the road where they were assassinated by the dictator Trujillo in 1960. Funded by the Mellon Foundation through Xavier’s Center for Undergraduate Research, the trip facilitated a joint faculty-student research project with students Benjamin Moore and Catherine Pena. They visited Santo Domingo, Santiago, and Salcedo and a number of memorial sites, inquiring into national historical memory. This was particularly engaging and relevant in a country plagued by a thirty-year dictatorship and subsequent slow transition to democracy.
Dr. Michael Homan, Professor, Department of Theology. During the summer 2010, Dr. Michael Homan, right, and Shavonda Wilson, who had just finished her first year in the College of Pharmacy, visited Petra, a Nabatean city carved in stone. The visit to Jordan included an excavation in Barqa, about 20 kilometers from Petra. Dr. Homan teaches in the Department of Theology, where his research focuses on how people lived in the ancient Near East. He has more than 20 years of archeological field experience supervising excavations in Israel and Jordan.
Dr. Gary Donaldson, Director of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Professor, Department of History. Dr. Gary Donaldson’s scholarship focuses on 20th Century U.S. history and post-World War II foreign policy and politics. He teaches courses in Modern America (since 1945), Historiography and Research, U.S. History survey (since 1865), and World Civilization. Dr. Donaldson was a Senior Fulbright Scholar in China in 1991-92 and 1997-98, where he taught 20th Century American foreign policy at Beijing Foreign Studies University. His works include “The Making of Modern America” (2009) and “Modern America: A Documentary History of the Nation since 1945” (2007).
Dr. Susan Spillman, William Arceneaux Endowed Professor of French, records, videotapes, and researches oral histories. Currently, Spillman is collecting videotaped oral histories in French and Spanish, primarily from peoples in Louisiana, delving deep into their cultures to increase their audio and video interactions and responses. She posts 30-second and 2-3 minute segments from each interview on the Web, thus allowing her subjects to be seen and heard by viewers.